Gut-wrenching landing

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Aviation Editor Geoffrey Thomas launches a new series covering some of the bizarre, crazy and humorous things that have happened to him covering aviation over the past 48 years...

A wild July storm in 1984 heightened the tension for the upcoming assignment to cover the arrival of the USS Carl Vinson, one of the US Navy’s new super carriers.

I was going to fly out to the giant flat top, not in a benign helicopter to be gentled place on the deck but instead in a twin-engine Grumman C2 transport, dubbed the COD for Carrier Onboard Delivery, that would virtually crash onto the deck and pull a gut-wrenching 4Gs as it picked up the arrestor wire.

You see I suffer — badly — from motion sickness and nothing I had heard of what was to come gave me the slightest comfort.

The nerves took a battering as I boarded the C2. Instead of spacious 747 cabin I was seated in what seemed like a flying coffin — cramped, dark, just two windows and all passengers faced backwards.

Before I sat down, I had to don a lifejacket, helmet and ear muffs to suppress the noise as there is no insulation on the C2.

Our loadmaster delivered the safety drill in a very nonchalant tone.

“If we crash into the water right ways up the exit is here in the ceiling — if we are upside down it’s in the floor,” he said.

Dread fill my mind and I felt sick and we hadn’t even left the ground.

Read the full story here.


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