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Flying Off An Aircraft Carrier In The Caribbean

   You are so lucky to be sailing on this beautiful sea with its calm green waters (unless a big storm hits.).  From 1968 to 1969 I sailed on this sea with the US Navy. I started on the destroyer USS Haynesworth (DD-700). Our home port was Galveston, Texas. We spent a lot of time in Jamaica and in Guantanimo Bay,Cuba (Before the prison was there.)
        I was then sent to the aircraft carrier USS Lexington (AVT-16).I was assigned to a squadron flying Grumann S-2 Tracker anti-submarine planes. I was the computer operator on the plane. Everyday we would fly over the Caribbean looking for Russian submarines. It was beautiful flying. Our pilot and other crew members were real professionals and great people.
        One day Elena and I were visiting the aircraft carrier USS Hornet in Alameda, California. As luck would have it, an S-2 was on the flight deck and its bottom hatch was open. I showed Elena the inside of the plane and the seat where I sat.
        If you came into our bedroom, you would see a model of a gray plane with US Navy markings and two piston engines. That was the plane that I flew on. Anna that model is your after I die.It will be something for you to remember me.
         Flying from an aircraft carrier is an amazing and sometimes terrifying experience.You land at a normal airport on a very stable runway that stays in the same place. On an aircraft carrier you take off and land on a flight deck that is always pitching, yawing , and rolling.
          When you take off, they attach the plane to a steam catapult on the flight deck. Your flaps are down all the way and your engines are running at full power. The catapult blasts you to 60 miles per hour and you launch off the flight deck. As you go off the end of the ship, the plane drops below the carrier deck for just a second. This is the most dangerous moment when you can go into the water and drown. When the air catches the flaps you climb quickly. It is wonderful fun.
          Landing is wild and dangerous. Imagine that you are driving your car at 200 kilometers per hour(120 mph). You slam on the brakes and have to bring the car to a complete stop in 300 feet (about the length of an American football field.) When you approach to land on an aircraft carrier, your plane has to be going precisely 120 mph. If you are flying slower you will crash on the flight deck and be smashed into thousands of pieces. If you are going faster you will miss the three arresting cables to stop your plane and over shoot the flight deck.

About tatamkuluafrica

I am a man who has lived n 6 of the 7 continents. I first arrived in Africa on April 18, 1981. Africa has been a part of my life since. I spent 8 months living in a Xhosa village in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. I was given he nickname Tatamkulu Africa. In Xhosa it means "Grandfather Africa." In April of 1994 I was allowed to vote in the first democratic election in South Africa..I was honored to be part of such a historical moment. It was a beautiful and a magical day.

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