Impressive: F/A-18 Hornet jets recovering on aircraft carrier in bad weather

This video was recorded on USS Theodore Roosevelt on Sept. 14, 2003.

The flattop found itself in a extremely bad weather and heavy rainfall in the middle of a recovery: sevaral planes had to land but visibility was extremely poor and there were also problems with the Automatic Carrier Landing System (ACLS).

LSOs (Landing Signal Officers) assistance was paramount to help pilots land their planes safely.

The PLAT (Pilot Landing Aid Television) system gives a hint of the horizontal visibility on the flight deck. As pointed out in a comment of the Facebook page that posted the video, the “C” (or flashing “F”) in the upper screen of the PLAT is for “Clear” deck, or “Foul” deck, whereas the “W” in the bottom is for Waveoff.

Then, talking about the radio chatter, if you hear a pilot say “Clara”, it means that he can’t see the ball of the IFLOLS (Improved Fresnel Lens Optical Landing System).

Towards the end of the clip you can hear a pilot who asks the to take his wingman to the tanker and wait the for the ship to clear the weather “…so we don’t have to do a section approach.”

A section approach means that the lead would fly the ICLS (Instrumental Carrier Landing System) until about 3/4 mile from touchdown where it would leave the wingman to continue the approach on his own.

What the video shows is that under bad weather, naval aviators need calm, concentration and…huge balls, to land the plane on the deck.


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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.