Hi, I’m Eric Boehm, curator of aviation here at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space
Museum. Welcome to our second installment of our behind the scenes series,
“Conducting a Mission”. Today, we’ll be talking about readying the plane.
I’m on the hangar deck during Intrepid’s service career and during deployments
like to the Vietnam War. This would have been a very busy place.
It woudl have been crowded with airplanes and maintenance crews preparing
airplanes for missions.
All levels of maintenance and repair would take place in here.
From routine checks to battle damage repair to complete engine changes.
This is the portside aircraft edge elevator.
There are three elevators capable of bringing the airplanes up to the flight
deck. Another one is further aft on the starboard side and the third is
all the way forward, right in the middle of the deck, right between the catapult
tracks. Today, if you’re a visitor, you can ride this elevator.
But back during service time, it moved much faster.
During flight operations, the flight deck is a frantic place.
The men all wearing brightly colored shirts of yellow, red, green, blue and
purple. Each color signifies particular job of that man.
The yellow shirts were worn by aircraft movement directors, handling officers,
The blue shirts had the job of taking care of the wheel chocks and the tie down
chains. They also took care of the tow bars, the aircraft elevators, deck
tractors and forklifts.
Green shirts were worn by the catapult and arresting crews, as well as
photographers’ mates and postal clerks when they were working on the flight deck.
Plane captains, the guys in charge of making sure the aircraft was ready for each
mission wore brown shirts.
Safety and medical personnel, catapult final checkers, and catapult and arresting
gear quality assurance inspectors, wore white shirts.
The crew that was in the purple shirts did the refueling of the aircraft.
They had the nickname of “grapes”.
Ordnance men that loaded the aircraft with munitions, crash and salvage teams and
flight deck fire truck crews all wore red shirts.
So once the aircraft were fueled and armed, they were ready to launch.
So check out our next installment where we’ll talk about launching the plane.
And also go to IntrepidMuseum.org for more behind the scenes videos.