Extremely rare: U.S. Navy plane lands on snow-covered aircraft carrier’s flight deck

Arrested landings on the moving flight deck on an aircraft carrier can be extremely tricky in several conditions.

At night, when the horizon is not clearly visible and pilots have almost no visual reference until they are on short final. In bad weather, especially when there are low clouds, thunderstorms, fog, etc. Or during a snow storm, when the flightdeck is covered and made slippery by snow.

The photograph in this post is one of the few you can find online showing an aircraft landing on a snow-covered flattop’s deck.

It was taken on Jan. 21, 1987, and it depicts an A-6E Intruder of Attack Squadron (VA) 52 on final approach for recovery on the snow-covered flight deck of USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) operating in the Bering Sea.

Image credit: U.S. Navy


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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.


  1. BTW, who is that standing by 112? That is a big no-no. And with frozen ice on the deck, did anybody check to see if they could deploy the barricade stanchions? It doesn’t look to good in that photo.

  2. Very ballsy, Ray. Great story… I was flying P-3’s out of Adak at that same time and would often come back to land with a totally iced runway. We would use all 8,000 feet of the runway getting the beast to stop. No braking just reverse pitch on the props. I flew C-2’s later and collected a few traps…

  3. I was on that cruise, VS-29 SENSO. Cold! I think that’s the cruise where seven guys got swept off an elevator at the hangar deck – all recovered thankfully.

    I had a chance to go out on Vinson for three days in September 2011. Our ready room, Ready 4, had been assigned to HS-15, with only a few big changes made over the preceding 24 years. I managed to score a three hour plane guard flight. Nice to fly off the Chucky V’s flight deck again, even if it wasn’t a cat shot.

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