This is what it looks like when you land an E-2C Hawkeye on an aircraft carrier at night

E-2C Hawkeye Night Carrier Landing from the cockpit. With radio comms.

The following video was filmed on Apr. 16, 2013, and shows a night (let’s say a sunset) carrier arrested landing by a VAW-121 E-2C Hawkeye’s pilot at his last night trap with the squadron.

The video is particularly interesting as it includes radio comms (both with the ship and Landing Signal Officers), the PLAT (Pilot Landing Aid Television) from about a mile to the touchdown.

The PLAT system gives a hint of the horizontal visibility on the flight deck and 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 would mean “Waveoff.”

The pilot in command is the one in the left seat (with the camera), whereas the pilot in the right seat is handling radio calls, coordination with the CIC (Combat Information Center) crew. You can also hear the chat with the LSOs (Landing Signal Officers) providing final approach assistance to aircraft.




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. Indexers – Angle of Attack (AOA) indicator you can see on top of the dash. Yellow “doughnut” in the center shows the pilot he’s “On speed”. Also has a repeater in the nose wheel well to show the LSOs AOA.
    Needles – Automatic Carrier Landing System (ACLS) indicator on the attitude gyro. Consists of vertical and horizontal lines (needles) showing aircraft relationship to proper glideslope (up or down) and glidepath (right or left).
    On and up – Indicates needles show aircraft “On centerline” (left or right) but the proper glideslope is above the aircraft. Actually the aircraft will fly straight and level until intercepting the glideslope and then start a decent to remain on the proper decent angle.
    Mode 2 – The backup system to ACLS, similar to ILS.
    Wing down, Top rudder. There is apparently a cross-wind at the altitude(1200ft) requiring the pilot to dip the wing “into the wind” and use “top” rudder to keep the nose of the plane pointed at the carrier. Standard crosswind landing technique. Typically, as the aircraft descends toward the carrier, the crosswind will decrease (as carriers must drive into the prevailing surface level wind) and the pilot can reduce the Wing Down, Top Rudder correction.

    A landing at dusk is referred to as a “Pinkie”. The LSOs will make a decision on whether the landing counts as a “Night Landing” for pilot currency depending on how dark it is. Pinkies are very desirable because it may not be very dark but the pilot gets credit for a night landing.

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