Squadron Family Day

This past Friday was Family Day for NavyGuy’s squadron.  It was their last day of preparations before they head to San Diego for a boat det.  So on their last day of “bouncing” (FCLPs, or field carrier landing practice), they invited any interested family members to come in, observe a brief, and then view the flights from the LSO (landing signal officer) shack.  Basically, it’s the closest a civilian can be to watch a flight.  The LSO is a pilot who stands on the ground (or on the deck of the carrier) to guide the pilot who is flying; the LSO gives him information on how high or low the plane is, or generally how accurate the landing will be.

I arrived at the squadron ready room (lounge) around 9:30a, and listened to the LSO give the brief to all the pilots and NFOs who would be participating.  Afterwards, they sorted out who had family visiting and ran through the order of flights.  NavyGuy got assigned last (blergh), so we had lots of time to sit around.  And I discovered the truth of what NavyGuy spends most of his work day doing during a bounce period…

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…drinking coffee and watching ESPN!  Such a hard life.  Sit around in pajamas, drink coffee, maybe grab a donut, watch a little news, shoot the shiznit with your fellow aviators who are also sitting around.  🙂  I’m told that the hours of relaxing balance out against the forty minutes or so of intense flying, but I’m still not sold 😉

20140117_105418Proof he did a smidge of work outside the airplane; here he’s covering for one of the officers at the duty desk.

Eventually, it was NavyGuy’s turn to fly.  His pilot, call sign Job, also had family visiting.  NavyGuy and Job went down to the hangar to get suited up and into the jet, while Job’s family and I hopped into a van and were driven out to the LSO shack.

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Here’s the LSO (and the shack) lined up on the runway as a Growler comes in for a touch-and-go landing.  When the pilots are bouncing, they literally just fly around and around in a circle, and land for a split second, then take off again.  It’s all to practice their landing for when they have to do it on the aircraft carrier.  The runway has markings to show the pilots where the carrier deck would be.  The LSO uses “the pickle” (the long cord thing he’s holding in the photo above) to flash various lights on a light board.  Those different lights indicate landing information to the pilots.  The LSO is also observing the pilots’ landings overall to provide feedback and grades.

1506128_10202188289563905_1465021107_oPhotograph taken by another friend who was at Family Day – a Growler taxiing.

1498018_10202188291363950_1431745162_oThe Growler (friend photo).  The Growler is a two-seater, with the pilot in front, the NFO behind.

1599862_10202188291723959_358961121_o(Friend photo)… a Growler that’s just landed, using their afterburners (the red thing) to quickly get a lot of thrust for the coming take-off.

1015408_10202188292043967_1713096479_o(Friend photo)… the light board thingy is called the IFLOLS (improved fresnel lens optical landing system).  It’s what the LSO is directing with the pickle.

20140117_133318The sun had popped out by the time it was NavyGuy’s turn.  We watched them fly the pattern and bounce for about twenty minutes.  It is unbelievably loud (it would put Century Link / 12th Man nonsense to shame), especially when the LSO signaled a wave-off.  You could feel it in your chest and stomach, and hear it even with ear plugs.  I’m very happy I went – probably the coolest “take-your-wife-to-work” day you could get.

 

 

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