In the fall of "64" VMA-225 had a requirement for all its special weapons delivery pilots to refresh their carqual records with 2 traps & 2 cats. We were flying out of either Naha or Kadena on Okinawa and caught the "Connie" in transit back to the states. I'm sure the last thing those 'black-shoes' wanted to see was a herd of Jarheads coming to their boat and smashing into the deck, especially since it delayed her transit to CONUS. I was flying #2 in the first flight. With our Marine LSO aboard the ship, I picked up the ball on my first pass. With a center-ball, I remarked to the LSO that I felt 'flat.' "Oh, yeah," he said, "I forgot to tell you guys, that's a spad ball on the mirror - it's a 3 degree slope and only gives you about 5 feet hook-to-ramp clearance." I immediately adjusted my pass to accept a slightly high ball. No big deal.
After trapping, I cleared the gear and was directed to the starboard cat with my flight lead on the port. As I approached the cat a "Grape" held up the blackboard with "Fuel" printed on it. I replied with my actual fuel state of about 1,800 pounds. Lead and I both cranked up to 100% with tension on both cats. He fires first and appears to just "stagger" into the air. At this point, I've already saluted the Cat Officer when lead comes up and tells Pri-Fly that he only had 100 knots over the bow. Pri-Fly casually answers, "You had sufficient end speed." Whammo, off I go, same thing about 105 knots. The valiant little A4-C struggles into the air, accelerates, and is climbing. I come around for my second trap, clear the gear, see the same "Grape" with his little blackboard, and promptly indicate my fuel weight is now 4,500 pounds. He holds up the board with 4,500? Yes, I indicate 4,500! Nice smooth, comfortable cat shot with an end speed of about 125 knots.
God, Naval Aviation is a joy, isn't it?
Arthur Padios (2002)