A VF-143 F-14A+ (later to be a “B” designation) Tomcat is a second or two away from landing onboard USS GEORGE WASHINGTON in the fall of 1992. The crewman in the yellow shirt is the Arresting Gear Officer, the individual responsible for ensuring the arresting gear and flight deck is ready for landing. The green shirted crewman is the enlisted Gear Petty Officer. He communicates by various means to the below deck arresting gear operator what sort of aircraft is coming in to land so the arresting gear engines can be set for the correct weight. When all is ready he communicates to the gear officer with a call “Gear Set, Tomcat!” and both sets of eyes sweep the landing area to make sure it stays clear. The Gear Officer has a pickle switch in his hand that when depressed, turns a set of lights green, signaling a clear deck. A foul deck would be red, where the pickle switch is not depressed, meaning the landing area is not clear.
Might not sound like the most interesting job in the world, but when your job is the safe landing of jet and prop aircraft every 45 seconds on a 700 x 110 foot landing area in they middle of the ocean with sometimes a pitching deck , there isn’t much room for error.