LCDR John A. Williams, USN (Ret.)
1959, as an enlisted bombardier/navi
gator (AQC) in VAH-6, our whole
squadron of 12 A3D-2s was deployed on
USS Ranger. The deck was certainly full.
This was the first WestPac deployment
of the new Forrestal class super carriers.
Our Skywarriors were usually the first
launched and last recovered.
air wing was flying off to shore prior
to the carrier's arrival in Yokosuka, Ja-
pan. Just as one of our A3Ds was in ten-
sion and powered up, the ship ran into a
heavy rain squall and PriFly ordered the
the rain became heavier the pilot
raised his flaps and was spun off the cat
and directed aft of the island, one of our
parking places. No sooner was the bird
back there the ship broke into the clear.
The air boss said, "Put that Whale back
on the track and let's get rid of him!"
the Skywarrior returned to the cat,
was hooked up, and the pilot went to 100%
power. He issued a salute and off went
the A3D. WITH THE FLAPS UP! The air-
craft dipped so low it left a wake in the
water but staggered to gain altitude and
headed for the beach.
hell broke loose in PriFly. The Air
Boss called our skipper, the catapult of-
ficer and our line chief to meet with the
ship's CO on the bridge ASAP. Ranger's
(later admiral) was A.M. Noel
Gayler. He put the cat officer, our pilot
and a few others in hack.
day of flight operations we
saw white flight deck jerseys all over the
deck during launches. The men wearing
them were from each squadron's Quality
Control branch. Stencilled across the front
of each jersey was the word "FLAPS" in
four-inch letters. These white-shirted sail-
ors were to stand close to the cat officer
on each and every launch. Shortly, the
additon of a black checkerboard pattern
was added to the shirts. Therefore, I be-
lieve the spring of 1959 saw the birth of
the first white-shirted "safety checkers."
note: LCDR Williams re-
sponded to a query concerning the ori-
gin of colored jerseys on the flight deck.
His article focuses on one of the colors.
Williams served in the Navy for
29 years and rose from Seaman to LCDR.
and plane captain to Maintenance Of-
ficer, among many other accomplish-
ments. He logged over 2,500 flight hours.