Photo by C. Jeff Dyrek
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is the Alert 5 and is moving onto the cats to wait for action.
pilots take a four hour shift.
You commonly see them reading a book
while sitting in the cockpit.
An Alert aircraft is an aircraft
which is ready in a moments notice for takeoff to defend the ship.
In this case, the alert 5 must be off the deck within five minutes of an 0008903ALT="F-14 Tomcat Balsa Wood Kit photo" HSPACE=10 VSPACE=10 BORDER=2 height=88 width=250 align=RIGHT>alert
of an aircraft coming toward the ship.
These incoming aircraft must
be intercepted before they reach the 200 mile defensive radius.
aircraft carriers maintain a defensive radius and consider any unidentified
aircraft approaching the ship hostile.
These aircraft must be intercepted
at a safe defensive range from the ship.
There is also
an Alert 15, where the pilots stay suited up in the ready room, and an
I don't know where these pilots wait.
A Letter from Mike, one of our readers
The metal fingers that made up the back end of the tail pipe were called turkey feathers. Also you mentioned that this was the first cruise using the Tomcat. You are correct. Another problem that was encountered was that the JBD's, (jet blast deflectors). They weren't big enough to protect you from the jet blast put out by the Tomcats. The flames would come over the top and around the side of the JBD's, effectively cooking the hell out of anyone in that area. I was working the flight deck as a flight deck trouble shooter at the time. I quickly learned to seek cover when a Tomcat went to full military prior to launch. I recall one incident when I was working on one of our A-6's on the starboard bow. A Tomcat cam by on its way to the bow cat and turned. The ship took a starboard list just at that point so the pilot gave it some throttle to keep from rolling backward. I and my partner had to grab onto the main strut of our plane to keep from being blown over the side. I recall the heat as being intense. You could not breath, your neck and other exposed skin was being fried, but there was no way you were going to let go, as the alternative was not pleasant.
Another bit of trivia. We joked
that the tail letters on the aircraft,
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