What is it like to land on an aircraft carrier?
Landing on a flight deck is one of the most difficult things a navy pilot will ever do. The flight deck only has about 500 feet of runway space for landing planes, which isn’t nearly enough for the heavy, high-speed jets on U.S. carriers.To land on the flight deck, each plane needs a tailhook, which is exactly what it sounds like — an extended hook attached to the plane’s tail. The pilot’s goal is to snag the tailhook on one of four arresting wires, sturdy cables woven from high-tensile steel wire.It is precision flying at low speed and a high angle of attack. It is the definitive skill that sets Navy carrier pilots. the principle on landing is to Fly the plane aboard the ship at the slowest speed at which it can be done safely.
Steps by step procedure of landing a fighter jet on an Aircraft carrier
Carrier Landing Procedures video
- Approach turn/ 180: The approach turn itself is a 180 degree turn (190 degrees at the boat because of the angled deck) that is usually broken down into 5 segments: the 180 position, the 135, the 90 (halfway through the turn), the 45 and the groove. Each respective position indicates the number of degrees left in the turn prior to rolling out in the groove.
- The Ball or Meatball: an orange orb of light emitted from the IFLOLS. A green horizontal row of lights (known as the datum) indicates proper glide slope. If the ball is below the datum, the aircraft is low, and if its above the datum, the aircraft is high. Aircraft should strive to keep the ball on the happy side.
- Ball Call: Format: ” Side-number aircraft type ball, fuel-state, auto-throttles”Example: “123 Rhino ball, 9.0“
- Carrier Break: A type of left-hand overhead performed at 800ft AGL and 350+kts (for hornet guys)
- BRC: the basic recovery course. The course at which the ship is currently traveling, which does not include the offset for the angled deck.
- Groove: the final portion of the approach (what civilians might call short-final)
- Initial: on BRC, 3-5nm behind the ship, 800ft AGL, 350+kts, the starting point for the day approach
- Interval: the specific aircraft in the pattern whose approach will commence just prior to yours, and whose separation you are responsible for not violating.
- On speed: the proper AoA that will achieve the correct hook angle to catch the target wire of the carrier. On speed airspeed can be approximated by the aircraft weight, but the term on speed does not refer to airspeed specifically, but units of AoA.
- Side number: The 3 digit number assigned to the aircraft. This is not the buno number (military aircraft don’t have N numbers), it is a squadron specific identifier. I will hence refer to ‘123’ as the default side number.