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 Carrier Aviation News: A Night Aboard Kitty Hawk    Wings

Part 1

Some pictures can be viewed full screen by clicking on them and display best on a 24 bit screen

The C-2A Greyhound, engines pounding, swept into a 3G turn on a path for the carrier, the USS Kitty Hawk 240 miles off the Western Australia coast. It was around dusk and I'd just finished throwing up into a plastic bag, a combination of over-heating in the cabin and turbulence on our descent.

The COD (Carrier On-board Delivery)

I couldn't see out, there were no windows near me and I was facing the back of the aircraft, in full harness, blue life jacket and helmet. The chair was surprisingly comfortable, more leg room than the 737 I flew into Perth in the day before.

There were 12 of us in the little Greyhound called a COD (Carrier On-board Delivery) used for transporting people and, more importantly for the crew, mail to and from the carrier. We were there by invitation from the Commanding Officer (CO) of the boat to the local branch of the Association of Naval Aviation - Squadron 55. I was lucky, I only joined a few weeks before....but such are dreams made of.

Military Class

We were descending and suddenly a thud as the wheels hit, clang of the tailhook as it grabbed the wire and we were stopping, very fast! With a cheer you could hear through the helmets and over the engines at full throttle, we experienced our first trap!

As the C-2 swung around out of the way, the clam shell doors at the rear began opening and to me it looked like a scene from a movie, in the soft blue light of an overcast dusk with aircraft lined up the sides of the flight deck, crew huddled waiting for the next aircraft to recover, then suddenly....THUD.................WHOOOOOSH as a jet trapped, it was a huge noise. The C-2 came to a rest and we streamed out a short distance to a door in the island, the wind was blowing 40 knots across the deck, a quick look around to see what was going on...THUD.................WHOOOOOSH as another jet trapped. We found ourselves being led down very steep ladder with just a chain to grab hold, down, down. I was woozy again and sweating profusely still going down. Finally we came to a cabin, the CO's in-port cabin, that only slightly muted THUD.................WHOOOOOSH every minute or so.

      F-14 Tomcat

We were at least 5 decks down (or at least it seemed that we were) and the cabin consisted of a large formal round table with straight-backed chairs separated by a glass wall from a modular lounge area with seating for about 15 people, in one corner was a television, showing the recovery of the remaining F14's and F18's.

We were divided into 2 groups, our escort was the congenial Lt 'Frankie' Pemberton and, once we got ourselves together with press kit and schedule in hand proceeded to our cabin. We used a card key to enter the six-man cabin 2 tiers of 3 bunks...and they weren't big. I grabbed grooming kit and a middle bunk, a little later I got quite used to sleeping in it.


pictures and text copyright David McCandless 1997

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