Closing eyes….spinning mouse wheel…and here it is…!
Us catapult officers can get a bit animated in our actions and gyrations on the flight deck while in the midst of launching aircraft. Part of it is personality and part of it is making sure there are no questions about the signals we are giving to anyone – flight deck personnel, aircrew, the Boss up in the tower, anyone.
Here, the bow Cat O is giving his signal to take tension…the first major step in the actual firing of the steam catapult that drags a 37,000 lb hornet to 150 knots or so. That signal – a sort-of “pull the trigger” type of motion, tells the deck edge operator to take tension, where a big ol’ plunger under the deck is extended that pushes the catapult shuttle forward until there is no slack anywhere between the aircraft launch bar and the catapult shuttle. Everything is as tight as it can be, and from here goes the engine run-up, everyone checks everything, and if all is well, *boom* – the aircraft goes flying.