F-35C Back at Sea for 3rd Round of Carrier Tests
Two F-35C carrier variant versions of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) lined up Monday on catapults one and two of this aircraft carrier steaming about 75 miles off the Virginia coast. Blast doors lifted from the deck and the aircraft’s control surfaces wiggled as the pilot ran through final checks. The engine revved, the launch shooter saluted and pointed go, and the jets roared down the cat tracks to leap into the air.
Once airborne, the planes circled left into the approach pattern, a maneuver known as the racetrack for its resemblance to the oval outline. Landing gear down, flaps down, the 35Cs – “Charlies” in Navy parlance – lined up on the angled flight deck and came in for a trap, or landing, aiming to catch the third of fourth arresting gear wires with their tailhook and lurch to a sudden stop.
Once on deck, the tailhook released the wire, the aircraft moved back up to the catapult, and the cycle was repeated. Over and over and over again.
And this was only Day Two of nearly three weeks of expected flight operations aboard the George Washington.