Controlled Chaos. Aircraft carriers are the most lethal weapons in the Navy. If needed, they can put 70 of the most lethal airplanes into the skies in a very short period of time. To make this idea even more impressive, with four catapults and landing areas, they can both launch and recover aircraft at the same time. If you can imagine this, you can see why I call it “controlled chaos.”
This video will give you a clear sense of that. It is not excessive to call the flight deck of an aircraft carrier in the middle of a launch-and-recover mission the most dangerous place to work in the world. The complexities of launching, recovering, refueling, and rearming fighter planes, aerial controller planes, refueling planes, etc. are almost beyond belief. While the flight deck of a carrier may appear huge, it is, in real terms, very small for what actually takes place there. Just launching or recovering one plane is complex enough, but when there is a need to launch one after another on a mission, those complexities become exponential. In order to keep things clear and in order, the flight deck crews have dozens of completely unique responsibilities, and they must be carried out in unison. In a very real way, the art of doing this is an extremely complex dance, a ballet, that must be choreographed with minute precision. Everything has to work properly, in its own fashion and its own timing. It has to be meticulously coordinated, or things can go very wrong. As is explained here in the video, the flight deck crews all wear different colored shirts to signify their specific duties and responsibilities. The purple shirts, for example, are the fuelers, the red shirts are in charge of aircraft bullets, bombs, missiles, and rockets on the flight deck, the green shirts are maintenance personnel maintaining launch and recovery equipment and aircraft, and the white shirts are in charge of the safety and quality assurance of each launch. The blue shirts are plane handlers, under the direction of yellow shirts, who help in maneuvering planes up to and around the flight deck. The brown shirts are solely responsible for preparing and inspecting individual planes for flight, and the yellow shirts are the officers and other crew who act as supervisors. They are the “big cheeses” on the flight deck, like the Aircraft Handling Officer, or the Catapult and Arresting Gear Officer.
You can clearly see here in this video how incredibly controlled this chaos is during launch-and-recovery operations on a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier. This video will bring back some memories to those who have worked on the flight deck of one of our nation’s aircraft carriers. These flight deck crews have good reason to be proud of their role in one of the most critical missions of the United States Military. It is their work that makes the United States Navy one of the most respected and effective fighting machines in the world.
The Veterans Site honors all who serve and who have served as flight deck crews on our United States Navy’s aircraft carriers. We can imagine that the pilots that you launch and recover have a special respect for each and every one of you. You are the best!