Photo: Spectacular F/A-18C low fly-by above the flight deck of USS Nimitz

When I first saw the following picture, I thought it was taken after a “bolter”.

In naval aviators slang, a bolter is when an aircraft attempting to perform an arrested landing on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier, touches down but fails to catch the arrestor cable and come to a stop.

However, as the picture below shows, the F/A-18C Hornet from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 323 did not bolter while attempting to land, as it is depicted well above the flight deck.

Actually, it “simply” performed a low fly-by above the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) with full flaps, extended landing gear and hook down, the same configuration used for final approach.

A bit unusual, but quite cool if you manage to get a shot or two from the flattop.

Image credit: U.S. Navy

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. Aren’t these kind of flybys often performed if there is a lit warning lamp or some other reason to believe landing gear (or some related equipment e.g. the hook) might not have deployed properly? A close, slow fly by allows the air control crew perform a visual inspection of the airframe and see if a landing gear is not in it’s expected position.

  2. They were probable waved off by either tower or the LSO. Foul line incursion or the arresting gear was not properly set, no big deal this happens alot espically during CQ.

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