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A Day In The Life Of A Carrier Pilot

A Day In The Life Of A Carrier Pilot


0400 - Awakened to sound of power buffers banging against your stateroom bulkhead.

0515 - Awakened again to the 1-MC, for "Sweepers, sweepers, man your brooms. Sweep down all passageways and ladderways. Give the ship a clean sweep both fore and aft. Now sweepers, away."

0600 - Alarm clock goes off. Reset alarm for 0900.

0730 - Sleep through breakfast. Most aviators don't even know that the ship serves breakfast.

0800 - Reset alarm when alarm accidentally goes off prior to 0900.

0900 - Begin hitting snooze every 7 minutes until roommates complain.

0930 - Stagger into shower. Forget soap. Go back and get it. Realize you left your key in your flight suit again. Pound on door until sleepy roommates wake up to let you in. Return to shower. Forget Shampoo. Use soap to wash your hair instead.

1000 - Walk to the squadron ready room to see if anybody wants to go to lunch. Receive annoyed looks by Lieutenant Commanders who have been there since 0730.

1030 - Lunch.

1045 - Lunch is over. The day officially begins.

1100 - Back to stateroom for a quick nap.

1300 - Get up and walk to the ready room for a meeting. Drink coffee with the other junior officers until the skipper shows up.

1345 - Squadron Duty Officer calls skipper to remind him that the meeting was supposed to start at 1300.

1346 - Skipper walks in. 1300 meeting begins.

1346-1530 - Some Lieutenant Commander or other drones on and on about some project of his. Amuse yourself trying to tie a noose out of your shoelace.

1525 - The Lieutenant Commander is finally cut off so that the flight crews can use the ready room to brief for the first mission.

1526 - Begin flight planning. Realize you do not have time to be thorough. Decide that your key phrase in the brief will be to "remain flexible."

1530 - Brief your crew/flight on what is expected of them. Remind them repeatedly that in today's rapidly changing environment, it is important to "remain flexible." Act like you know what you are doing.

1600 - Finish brief. Walk down to the mission planning office to find out all the information you should have just briefed your crew on.

1615 - Go to Maintenance Control to read the Aircraft Discrepancy Book to find out what other pilots have found wrong with your plane.

1630 - Preflight and start aircraft. Listen to the Air Boss scream on tower frequency at some other pilot whose fly-by was a little too aggressive.

1715-Begin taxiing to catapault. Realize you should have used the head after drinking all that coffee in the meeting.

1730 - Catapult shot. Pressurized steam accelerates you from 0 to 135 mph in 0.8 seconds. The coolest feeling in the entire world. It requires the same force needed to launch a VW Beetle straight up 6 miles.

1730-1830 - Perform a one-hour mission flawlessly. Bombs on target. CAP in position. Everybody has plenty of fuel. Life for one hour travels at the speed of sound.

1830 - Get set up in the "Marshall Stack" to await your turn at a night landing on a pitching carrier deck. Fly a "rails pass" for an OK 3-wire. Mission is over. Just in time to get some dinner before the evening movie.

1845 - Debrief with the Landing Signals Officer on the outstanding pass you just flew. Use both hands to simulate your approach. Lots of back-slapping all-around, and it's off to dinner.

1900 - Dinner complete, stop by the mini-mart for a bag of microwave popcorn. Proceed to the back of the ready-room, where 12 others aviators are already in line with their own bags.

1915 - The skipper arrives, and the 1900 movie begins. The whole wardroom knows all the lines, because it is one you've all seen at least a dozen times so far this cruise. Every two minutes the sound is blanked out by the crashing sound of landing gear hitting the deck seven feet over your head.

2115 - The movie is over. Sign three training forms with yesterday's date. Put them in the bottom of a Lieutenant Commander's inbox so it looks like he ignored it until it was overdue.

2130 - The junior officers debate the merits of sleeping or waiting until the chowhall opens again for midrats. Hunger wins out over fatigue, and you wait up another hour playing Duke-Nukem in the ready room.

2230 - Everybody still awake goes to midrats for a slider (a greasy hockey-puck-like hamburger) . Washing it down with a bowl of "auto-dog" (soft-serve ice cream) you head to the rack for some much-needed sleep.

2300 - Fail asleep to the sound of your roommate yet again telling you all about the trials and tribulations he is having with his girlfriend back home. You stopped caring three months ago.

2300-0400 - Dream about your next port of call.

Repeat cycle 180 times until end of cruise.





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