Air Operations



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Air operations is what Hancock was laid down for in the very beginning, back in 1943. This ship has always been proud of her record, from the get-go.

A Signalman is about to hoist the Air Ops Launch Flag on the halyard... and Air Operations begin.

As soon as Flight Quarters is called, the ship changes it's mood. The point of attention is shifted from typical shipboard life to one of excitement and purpose. The Ship is on a Mission, and all hands rise to the occasion, no matter what their billet is, or where their jobs take them, they are there to see that Air Operations become a smooth operation on ship, and that the purpose of being at this condition, is carried out successfully and without incident.

Pilots in Ready Room One are discussing the morning's launch procedures...

The general atmosphere in the Air Ops Department is a frenzy of activity...


Each Squadron of CAG-21 is readying their crews and planes for eventual launch, as the ship turns into the wind.

The atmosphere on the Bridge becomes tense and often exciting, as does also pri-fly and air operations. The voice-operated phone lines are busy with conversations buzzing here and there around the ship, and watches are set, fore and aft.


Air Operations

The color coded men in shirts on the Hangar Deck and Flight deck are now busy about their duties. They work very hard - sometimes I felt that they were the hardest working men on ship. I'd like to remember these men with gratitude for their labors.. some lost their lives during these very dangerous activities...

A Greenshirt on the Flight Deck of the USS Constellation

Did you know that the Hancock was the first American Carrier to incorporate the new C-11Steam Catapult system? Take a look...

First Steam catapult launch off the deck of the Hannah

The Hancock Tradition was established in WWII and continued throughout her 32 year career. Here she ventured into the Steam catapult age, being the first American Carrier to use them Pictured is the first aircraft launched off of the flight deck of the Hancock, an S2F-1, piloted by Cdr Henry J. Jackson on 1 June 1954


The E1-B Tracer is ready on the Port catapult...

This plane was always referred to as the 'Willie Fudd'. This one was from Attack Early Warning Squadron VAW-11, detachment Lima is ready on the Port catapult...



The following pictures depict Flight Deck activity during Air Operations on the Hancock...


An A3D Skywarrior from VAH-4 Detachment Lima, is being readied for Launch...


and still another, and another, until all are airborne...


A crew member of VA-212, must have lost his screwdriver in the cockpit of an A4D Skyhawk

Launch the Spad! comes the message from Air.

These planes were faithful prop planes from another era, but they proved their worth during low altitude strafing runs and anti-submarine search and destroy missions. I think they were one of my favorite planes, for some reason or another. Perhaps they brought to mind what the Navy was like back before jets came into the picture. Planes like the F6F Hellcat, the SBD3 Dauntless, and many others. These graced Hannah's Flight deck long before the jets came aboard.

If you would like to view the aircraft Gallery, which depicts aircraft which were launched from the Flight Deck of Hancock, I invite you to visit there.

I will add planes from every Era that Hannah was on Line, as I receive good quality pictures of them. I realize my vantage point for this website is rather slanted to the Vietnam Era Hancock, it's men and planes, but I wish to be fair and include all Era's that Hancock set sail.

Links to the Hancock Memorial's Photo Galleries are below...

If you ever wanted to know what it was like to land a fighter, tanker, Bomber, or COD on the Flight Deck of the Hancock, here's a bird's eye view of this exciting experience taken during a normal approach... remember Hanna, to a pilot, is a little speck on the surface of the ocean! Exciting? Risky? Now compound this experience by a setting sun, and all you see are the LSO Mirror and lights flashing at you. Darken Ship has been called when the sun hit the horizon and sank below the waves.. you are running low on fuel, you have to make this approach or go into the drink... Let's salute our Naval Aviators! They're the best in the business and the Right Stuff!

Catch the Launch to the Hancock Galleries




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