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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.
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.
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
This is an ongoing project, if you have any opinions or ways I can improve
it, please contact me: David McCandless
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