Jets on the Lex
The Little Red Corvette beneath the wing of an A-3 Skywarrior aboard USS Lexington. Launched during World War 2, when good men were hard to find, "Lady Lex" was 90% built by women. In postwar years she became better known as the US Navy's training carrier. As a training ship, Lexington was the first aircraft carrier to have women in the crew. Naval Aviators, including many future astronauts, learned the difficult art of carrier landings on this deck.
Lexington was berthed in Pensacola, Florida, cradle of Naval Aviation. At "P-Cola" the candidate experienced the discipline of Marine Gunnery sergeants and the famous obstacle course. She would get basic flight training in a Cessna 172, followed by the T-34 Mentor (right). Jet training was in the T-2 Buckeye (left), culminating in carrier landings on the Lexington.
The top of the flight school class aimed for the F-14 Tomcat. The coolest squadron markings were worn by VF-84 Jolly Rogers, part of Carrier Air Wing 8. VF-84 and USS Nimitz were featured in the time-travel movie THE FINAL COUNTDOWN. The colour scheme even ended up on the space fighters of MACROSS. Real Space flyers Alan Shepard, John Glenn, Neil Armstrong and many other wore the gold wings of the Naval Aviator. The skills and discipline of Naval Aviation have been a huge contribution to Spaceflight.
Labels: aircraft carrier