Monthly Archives: October 2009

CVW-11 patches

The following patches were among those worn (and sold) by the crews of the various squadrons of the CVW-11 aboard USS Nimitz during my recent visit. The CVW-11 composition was:
100 VFA-41 F/A-18F
200 VFA-14 F/A-18E
300 VFA-97 F/A-18C
400 VFA-86 F/A-18C
500 VAQ-135 EA-6B
600 VAW-117 E-2C
610 HS-6 SH-60F/HH-60H

Nimitz by night

The following pictures taken from the Vulture’s Row, the narrow balcony on the ship’s island, don’t give the exact idea of the darkness that surrounds an aircraft carrier at night. The flight deck is illuminated by a soft sodium-vapor light and by the runway lights. The aircraft are surrounded by many coloured shirts performing the usual tasks needed to launch and recovery aircraft in safety. The afterburners create a bluish-white glow that disappears immediately after launching from the catapult. Combined with thousands of stars clearly visible above us, the sight is absolutely stunning.

My father in law is an amateur poet. After my visit to the USS Nimitz, he wrote the following poem. When he read it to me for the first time I immediately recalled the atmosphere of the flight deck at night:

La Portaerei
Un buio avvolgente
Un mare increspato
Un lieve rumore di onde
Ad un tratto un boato
Una luce improvvisa
Un aereo prende il volo
Un rumore assordante
Una scia di fuoco nel cielo
Il chiarore si allontana
Il buio ed il silenzio tornano a possedere il mare

F. De Santis (ottobre 2009)

The Aircraft Carrier
A winding darkness
The rippled ocean
The gentle sound of waves
Abruptly a rumble
A sudden light
An aircraft takes off
A deafening sound
A trail of fire in the sky
The glimmer of light fading away
Darkness and silence continue possessing the ocean

F. De Santis (Oct. 2009)

Flying to/from an aircraft carrier with a C-2 Greyhound

After my recent visit on board the USS Nimitz, many readers of this site asked me to describe a flight on the C-2 Greyhound COD (Carrier On-board Delivery) and in particular the trap landing on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier. I thought that the best way to describe the flight was through some pictures I took with a small Powershot camera I had inside my cargo pants.

As you can see from the pictures I took during my 3 hours flight from Manama, all the passengers were required to wear the life jackets, the “cranials” and seat backward! Dealing with the trap landing, the video is self-explaining: everything happens very fast and the strong deceleration make you feel like you are laying on a floor looking at the roof!

In my opinion, departing from an aircraft carrier with a catapult launch is even more exciting than arriving. Unfortunately I have no video available to show you this experience. It would have been almost impossible for me to keep the camera in my hands as the acceleration of the C-2 Greyhound being catapulted off the flight deck, reaching 150 miles per hour in 3 seconds, is unbelievable. Opposite to what I felt when we landed, I felt like I was hanging inside a wind tunnel looking towards a floor (that was actually the seat in front of me) with my arms and legs pointing at it. The following pictures were taken during the return flight. I was lucky enough to get a seat next to one of the two small windows even during this flight that gave me the chance to see Dubai from above.

Compressor stall…in the worst case scenario (part 2)

In the previous post “Compressor stall…in the worst case scenario” I explained what a compressor stall (or surge) basing on a picture I took aboard USS Nimitz. I uploaded an image within that post that I created by merging two pictures I took one after the other. Since that picture provided a view of the last few seconds of the catapult launch by a VFA-86 F-18C, I thought it could be interesting to publish the whole take off sequence that you can find here below.
Compressor stall sequence

F-18 rudders during take-off

Some visitors of this site that analysed the pictures I took on the USS Nimitz (, asked me why the F-18 (both C, E and F versions) has the rudders deflected inwards during catapult launches.
That position of the rudders is common to all the Hornets, not only those departing from the flight deck of an aircraft carrier: the rudders are deflected to help the nose raising as the aircraft leaves the ship. Since the vertical fins are angled outwards, deflecting both rudders inwards gives a downward component of lift, which acts behind the centre of graviting generating a momentum that assists the elevators.