Lt. Carol Watts and Lt. Lyndsi Bates

Pilots : F/A-18 Hornet

Lt. Carol Watts and Lt. Lyndsi Bates

Lt. Carol Watts (center) flies with her hands as she discusses with Lt. Lyndsi Bates (right) her night-time strike against Iraq on Dec. 17, 1998, after returning on board the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65)


Lt. Carol Watts and Lt. Lyndsi Bates

Enterprise and its embarked Carrier Air Wing 3 are operating in the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Desert Fox. Watts is an F/A-18C Hornet pilot from the "Ragin' Bulls", Strike Fighter Squadron 37, (VFA-37), Naval Air Station Cecil Field, Fla.

DoD photo [981217-N-33962F-002] by Petty Officer 3rd Class Tedrick E. Fryman III, U.S. Navy. (Released)

"A Time for Grades"

By tradition this month is a time for our sons and grandsons to bring home their final grades from school. Those among us who have children in high school or college are familiar with this annual ritual. Younger members have little ones who troop home from grade school with year end proof of their progress and ability. Dean's List, Honor Roll, or the pangs of summer school allow all to "get it right" or get a second chance.


Lt. Lyndsi Bates*

Our young carrier pilots forward deployed on ships on station in the Kosovo conflict under NATO sanctioned Allied Force flights are "graded" every time they return to their ship and land. Here, on the heaving flight deck of the USS Teddy Roosevelt, there is no room for "second chances." Lives are at stake during day and night operations, no matter the weather.

Navy pilots fly twice a day to maintain skills honed to the sharp edge necessary to meet their missions and return safely. Landing an F-14 Tomcat at 120 knots in 350 feet of pitching deck is, at best, a controlled crash. Each and every landing is scored by officers tasked with grading every pilot's landing. (see U.S. Navy photo).

Millions of dollars in equipment and years of training are at risk along with the lives of the flight crew and personnel on board. Few of us could meet the daily stress of flying missions and being graded for our landing efforts. Here comes another landing. He calls the "Ball" and is caught by the tail hook. It's a time for the grades, Dad.

R. Michel, NNN0ASP/UXM-WI.

* not identified in the article but believed to be the same girl as in the first image

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