On the Line 3.5

by Steve on January 17, 2008

ED: The old laptop finally checks 4.0 and the data back-up was successful so we will resume where we left off. Admittedly it was an awkward place to break but rather than shift it and really confuse everyone I’ll leave it as-is for now – this should have been part of 3.4 – you may want to go back and refresh your memory. Baby steps here as we get back up to speed.

Back to 3.4

“Okay, see you then.” Ted headed to maintenance control to make sure his chiefs in the Avionics and Ordnance shops had everything under control for the day. As the AV/ARM Division Officer he managed over one hundred twenty enlisted personnel plus two of his fellow junior officers and reported to his department head, LCDR Robert Baker, the squadron Maintenance Officer. Ted was never quite sure which was more important: his tactical proficiency in the jet or leadership skills in managing his people. He knew that if he neglected either one his career would suffer.

He actually enjoyed working with his enlisted troops. There were a few problem children, as Ted referred to his repeat offenders, but for the most part the personnel of the AV/ARM Division admired and respected their Division Officer. Whenever he had the opportunity he would spend time in the shop or up on the flight deck with his people. He wanted to know what they dealt with day in and day out so that he had a better understanding of the problems they faced.

One night shortly after he was assigned as the Division Officer he walked into the Avionics shop just prior to a launch. The chief had been apprehensive when he noticed that Ted was dressed in flight deck gear and became agitated when Ted announced that he was going on deck with his Final Checkers as an observer. The chief had practically begged him not to go up on deck at night but Ted persisted. He didn’t realize that the chief had assigned an additional man to the deck crew that night whose sole responsibility was to bring Mister Gordon back down in one piece.

Ted didn’t understand what all the fuss was about until they cleared the hatch and exited the safety of the ship. It was so black on the catwalk that for a few short seconds he knew what it must be like to be blind. Without his familiar flight gear and helmet he felt naked, vulnerable. He could hear the ocean working against the hull below him and gear being moved around the deck just above his head but he couldn’t see his own hand. Ted grabbed hold of the float coat on the man in front of him until his eyes adjusted. Once that happened it wasn’t so bad. Then the engines started. The wind down the deck combined with the scream of thirty turning aircraft on the crowded deck made conversation impossible. The exhaust burned his eyes and throat. Everywhere he looked he saw danger: intakes that could suck a three hundred pound man right out of his boots and shred him into mush, roaring exhaust that could blow you overboard into the dark frigid water. All around him things were moving and happening with the same speed and precision that took place in broad daylight. He usually saw the flight deck from the safety of his cockpit. It was a whole different world outside the jet. After spending several launches with his people Ted understood why the deck of an aircraft carrier was considered one of the most dangerous places to work for a living. If your mind wasn’t focused on the job and the environment, death was only a step away.

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{ 1 comment }

Steeljaw Scribe January 21, 2008 at 18:28

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