I’m not sure if you know this yet, but I’m a fan of everything aviation related. My wife graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and I was her first private pilot student. My childhood dream of flying finally became a reality in the mid 90’s. And I suggest anyone interested in becoming a pilot to go out and pursue that dream as well. Totally worth it. Although I didn’t fly in the military, it’s hard not to appreciate the skill necessary to land an aircraft on the deck of a ship. Below is a video containing a few routine landings, along with a couple unconventional landings.
What you’ll notice from the F-18 pilots cockpit videos are the control inputs on the stick and throttle. While most general aviation aircraft use pitch to control the rate of descent, the F-18 pilots use the throttle. Add gas to decrease the sink rate and flatten out a bit, reduce gas to continue descending. It takes a ton of concentration, hand-eye coordination and some seat-of-the-pants feel to make a safe landing. Throw in night operations and foul weather and I’ll bet the pucker factor increases a bit.
What blew my mind is the C-130 landing on the aircraft carrier. No tail hook to slow it down and no catapult to launch it. It looks like the pilots were able to stop the large C-130 aircraft in a couple hundred feet!