One of the things I throughly enjoyed about my USMC career was flying and being deployed aboard ship. Being on a big boat in the middle of the ocean and flying around offered plenty of good teaching moments as well as imprinting a strong respect for the ocean and mother nature. And of course I’ve always loved the water so that was a big reason why I liked it so much.
I snapped this pic in 1990 aboard the USS Belleau Wood (LHA-3). I would often go topside during flight ops to watch and ‘critique’ my fellow pilots on their flying, or more specifically, on their landings. Plenty of good ready room chatter ensued…
In this pic a CH-46E is coming in to spot 6 under direction of the LSE (partly obscured by shadow out to the from and right of the aircraft). The idea is to get your landing gear in the little white boxes painted on the deck. You can see he’s slightly aft and left of them at the moment I snapped the pic. Landing ‘in the paint’ ensured you had adequate clearance between spinning helos on the spots in front of and behind you. You can see judging by the spinning CH-46E on spot 5 that there wasn’t a ton of room between spinning rotors so getting in the paint or at least near it was kind of important and a bit challenging depending on sea state. And quite sporty at night I might add.
It occurs to me that this ship is now at the bottom of the ocean (intentionally) and none of these helicopters are still in service. Does that make me old?