Stunning cockpit footage aside, there are lots of interesting things in the latest Diamondbacks cruise video.
VFA-102 have just released a video that shows what a Strike Fighter Squadron does on a daily basis when deployed at sea with its F/A-18F Super Hornets. The clip is a compilation of footage filmed on the flight deck and in the cockpit during the Indo-Pacific Deployment aboard USS Ronald Reagan.
“I began the project back in April of 2019. VFA-102 hadn’t had a cruise video in almost 2 years so I figured we were due,” PR3 Richard Warren, who produced the video told us in an email. “I brought it up to get approved and the squadron had no problems with it so I got to work almost immediately. I was night shift so I would stay up almost every day shooting on the flight deck and I would do most of my editing on free time during shifts and during ports where I could get access to WiFi. I got approval from flight deck control the first couple times I went out there but eventually the entire flight deck recognized me because of how often I was out there. I got shots of almost anything I could get. Cat shots, traps, LSOs, directors, plane captains, final checkers, you name it. I used my GoPro along with other pilots GoPros to get my in the canopy footage.”
Indeed, the footage has everything you want to find in a cruise video: flight deck activity, launches and recoveries, night gun strafing, aerial refueling, pattern activity, formation flying and dogfighting. Among all the interesting things, the following ones are worth of remark:
At 00:39 you can see two F/A-18s (an E in the background and an F in the foreground) during simultaneous catapult launches. Simultaneous launches can be carried out using the two catapults on the front that are parallel to each other (whereas the two on the angled deck converge). However, normally, the catapults are cycled so that while one is firing, the other is being prepared for launch. This is done to help deconflicting the airspace immediately in front of the carrier, and allows maximum focus on the launching aircraft. Still, as explained, simultaneous launches of up to three aircraft, albeit usual, can happen every now and then.
At 02:14 you can see the pilot throw up finger guns before takeoff: it means they’re fully arming the jet just seconds before it launches.
At 03:40 mark you can see one of the F/A-18Fs venting/dumping fuel on its way back to “mother”. Each vertical fin has a vent outlet.
At 04:14 you can see the Super Hornets refueling from a non-US tanker: an A330 MRTT Multi Role Tanker Transport, an aerial refuelling tanker in service (in the Indo-Pacific region) with both the Republic of Singapore Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force.
At 07:40, you can see the “happy hand” at work. There’s a lot of static electricity build up on the canopy during flight. The “happy hand” removes it so it’s safe to touch after the aircraft has landed.
Not only is a cruise video a nice visual experience for those who watch the video but also for those involved in the filming: “As a PR, I don’t get on the flight deck unless absolutely necessary, so getting this experience was absolutely incredible for me. I learned so much and saw almost every aspect of the flight deck; day and night. I have plans for a more in depth video next year with live audio and interviews, so it should turn out pretty rad,” Warren commented.