Scoop Deck blogger Lance M. Bacon just completed a 24-hour embark aboard the carrier Harry S Truman. This is the play-by-play.
The view from the Mini Boss’ seat in Pri Fly as Rockhound launches from catapult 1. (Photo by Lance M. Bacon)
Scoop Deck has copped a squat in Ready Room 7, home of the VFA-105 Gunslingers, based out of Naval Air Station Oceana, Va. This F/A-18E Super Hornet squadron boasts a storied history, and a number of “nuggets” – junior pilots on their first operational deployment.
We strike up a conversation with Lt. Cmdr. Edward “Rockhound” Ward, who is 240 traps past his nugget days. The squadron’s safety officer and fourth in seniority, Rockhound calmly watches as pilots record the day’s tally. The squadron is between 30 and 60 days since its last quals, so all pilots have to get two day and one night trap, as well as two “touch-and-go” landings.
When the electromagnetic catapult planned for the forthcoming Ford-class carriers is brought up, the subject doesn’t spark a lot of excitement. The pilots say they think it’s a great idea – there would be less stress on the aircraft and the gradual acceleration would offer more control during launch – but the pilots are not confident it will happen on schedule.
It has no bearing on the upcoming float, but if the new catapult delays Ford it could affect the carrier deployment rotation. After all, delays with Big E has delayed Truman’s cruise by months, and will likely keep them at sea for an extra two months when they do go.
But one thing is clear in Ready Room 7 – these aviators are ready to get to work in the AOR.
The Mini Boss records traps and touch-and-gos on the Pri Fly window that overlooks the flight deck. (Photo by Lance M. Bacon)