Military Career: Aircraft Launch and Recovery Specialists
The military operates thousands of aircraft that take off and land on aircraft carriers all over the world. The successful launch and recovery of aircraft is important to the completion of air missions and the safety of flight crews. Aircraft launch and recovery specialists operate and maintain catapults, arresting gear, and other equipment used in aircraft carrier takeoff and landing operations.
What They Do
Aircraft launch and recovery specialists in the military perform some or all of the following duties:
- Operate consoles to control launch and recovery equipment, including catapults and arresting gear
- Operate elevators to transfer aircraft between flight and storage decks
- Install and maintain visual landing aids
- Test and adjust launch and recovery equipment
- Install airfield crash barriers and barricades
- Direct aircraft launch and recovery operations
Branches of the Military
Helpful school subjects include shop mechanics. Helpful attributes include:
- Ability to use hand tools and test equipment
- Interest in aircraft flight operations
- Interest in working on hydraulic and mechanical equipment
Job training consists of 9 to 13 weeks of classroom instruction, including practice in maintaining launch and recovery equipment. Course content typically includes:
- Operating and maintaining launch and recovery equipment
- Installing crash barriers and barricades
Normal color vision is required to work with color-coded parts and the wiring of launch and recovery equipment.
Aircraft launch and recovery specialists work outdoors aboard ships while operating and maintaining launch and recovery equipment or holding visual landing aids for incoming aircraft. They are exposed to noise and fumes from jet and helicopter engines.
There are no direct civilian counterparts to military aircraft launch and recovery specialists. However, many of the skills learned are relevant to jobs performed by ground crews at civilian airports.
Below is a list of similar civilian occupations:
The services have about 2,500 aircraft launch and recovery specialists. Each year, they need new specialists due to changes in personnel and the demands of the field. After job training, specialists are assigned to an aircraft launch and recovery section aboard an aircraft carrier or at an airfield. Initially, they perform maintenance and repair on equipment, working under close supervision. With experience, they perform more complex activities. In time, they may train and supervise other specialists. Eventually, they may supervise activities on carrier flight and storage decks.
Source: U.S. Department of Defense, Washington D.C.