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

Dec 30 2013 - 5 Comments

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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  • Doug S

    That’s astounding instrument practice! I have a feeling this will be used in some tutorials soon enough.

  • This is 10 yrs old…

    • Scott

      Umm yes it is. Did you read the very first sentence?

  • michael

    I have the feeling, that a drone would have failed.

    The Idea of replacing plaines (especially fighters) with drones is ridiculous!

  • Vishnu

    Amazing control and coordination!..