With the Osprey Waiting on Deck, Delivery Service to Carriers is About to Change

Dawn has barely broken and Rawhide 78, a Northrop Grumman C-2 Greyhound, is already dodging storm clouds on its way to the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman, about 100 miles off Florida?s northeast coast. The Truman is gearing up for a nine-month cruise and is chock-full of airplanes, but they aren?t launching and landing. Today is a change-of-command ceremony. Rawhide?s load is light: one bulky access panel for an F/A-18, a couple dozen personal packages for the carrier?s crew, 28 empty seats, and one nervous writer. A few-minutes? flight ahead is another C-2 full of command staff for the ceremony.

The C-2 is?with its close cousin, the E-2 Hawkeye?the heaviest airplane to board the carrier, but its pilots take pride in a crisp ?break? over the ship. They make to overfly the carrier at an 800-foot altitude but, midway down the deck, throw their airplane into a hard left bank, lowering the flaps and landing gear as they descend and bleed off speed. When the Greyhound rolls level, it is on glideslope for the Truman?s angled landing area, and as aircrew in the back signal to brace, Rawhide 78 catches the three-wire and jerks to a halt. The pilots fold the wings immediately and taxi to its parking area.