Military aviation sifts with the finest of mesh screens for judgment and skill, leaving only the best qualified in the cockpit. The US Navy has an even finer mesh screen with fewer aircraft to command than the men and women in blue. Since the end of the Cold War, we have witnessed the “Incredible Shrinking Navy” with fewer billets for pilot trainees with fierce competition for one of the most challenging jobs in the world. Plenty of lessons to be learned with lives and assets at stake in the air and on the ground. Courage is tested, missions completed and sometimes people even shoot back.
Naval Aviation is unique given the precision required during trapping an aircraft on a pitching deck. Arguably aviation’s toughest maneuver is measured in inches and microseconds at the moment a jet lands crashes on deck. Add darkness for more excitement. A coworker dreaded night landings which never got any easier as he flew F-4’s off Yankee station. By his account, the preoccupation with landing accuracy at times overshadowed the importance attached to delivering ordnance on target (which is a little strange when you think about it). “No Easy Days” is a pretty good description and also a riveting movie and book. If you want more current (and excellent) sea stories, spend some time at this place.
As for WWII action, there’s a bit of it here:
Of course tearing off the empennage is plenty dramatic but some of the most visceral footage (for me) is half way into the clip. – Flying into a barrage of artillery during strafing missions. A gunfight with the Quick and the Dead.
I can shoot an ILS without it shooting back. Landing to minimums in IMC can lead to sweaty palms but that beats heck out of a steep approach into a hail of lead. So a big thanks to all our military aviation heroes, both past and present. Air superiority makes all the difference.