Scoop Deck blogger Lance M. Bacon just completed a 24-hour embark aboard the carrier Harry S Truman. This is the play-by-play.
“Taps! Taps! Lights out! All hands return to their racks and maintain silence about the decks. Taps.”
Scoop Deck makes one more trip to Pri Fly to see how the evening’s quals are going. So far, so good. Tonight, the pilots will wrap up two days of carrier landings. Tomorrow, they will shift into cyclic flight operations, which are mission oriented.
We’re about 50 miles east southeast of the Outer Banks. As such, the fighters will take advantage of the target ranges at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C. They will conduct some bombing runs and close-air support. “That’s important because that’s a lot of what’s going on in Afghanistan,” said Capt. Joe Clarkson, Truman’s skipper.
Scoop Deck has retired to the “St. Louis” stateroom to get a little work done. Just a few feet above me is the jet blast deflector of Catapult 1. The rack rumbles as one Hornet after the next throttles to full power. Suddenly, the catapult accelerates the aircraft from 0 to 185 mph in under two seconds. Each launch concludes with a jarring thud as the shuttle’s spear-tipped piston plunges into a water brake at the end of is its 300-foot shot, and the jet launches off the bow of the ship. Moments later, the next contestant takes position.
This is scheduled to continue well past 0100 – and Scoop Deck couldn’t be happier.