In the following frames, you can see a guy in green showing a panel-like device with numbers on it to the pilot of the Super-Hornet that is about to launch from the carrier USS John C. Stennis.

  • What is this panel for?
  • What information is the pilot given?
  • Why just before takeoff and not while boarding/briefing?

enter image description here

Edit: I won't accept this question as a duplicate. It may contain the answer

Taxiing up to the catapult, a green shirt will hold up the weight board. If the weight on the board matches the weight on the weight chit, acknowledge ...

but the question isn't really about that part and quite "hidden".

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    $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of What is the force exerted by the catapult on aircraft carriers? $\endgroup$
    – fooot
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 16:37
  • $\begingroup$ @fooot I assume you are saying that he is showing the set catapult force to the pilot for verification purposes? I read the linked answer but it does not address what is displayed on that box. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 16:48
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ In the accepted answer, a green shirt will hold up the weight board, which is what your pictures illustrate. $\endgroup$
    – fooot
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 16:52
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    $\begingroup$ @fooot, ah, got it. The "possible duplicate" really isn't a dupe, but it is definitely related and happens to contain the answer. $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 17:16
  • $\begingroup$ If you're happy to consider Wikipedia as being accurate, and articles like this do tend to be since many people would correct and there is little motivation for others to mislead, then this article will help. $\endgroup$
    – Simon
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 18:10

1 Answer 1


That's a weight check. The sign has the weight of the aircraft in pounds. The catapult crew guy first shows the presumed weight to the PIC who must give a thumbs up, agreeing, "Yes, that is the weight I believe my aircraft to have."

The crew guy must then show the same exact set of numbers to the catapult chief operator, who must also approve it: "Yes, the catapult is set to launch that weight.

You can actually see both verifications happening in the two photographs above, the first one is to the PIC, the second to the catapult operator. Only when both verifications have occurred will a launch be permitted.

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    $\begingroup$ I have no reason to doubt you, I'm just curious what your source is for that? $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 17:07
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    $\begingroup$ @FreeMan I am a civilian, but I do a lot of advanced research for the navy so I know exactly how CVN systems work, including their flight operations. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 17:10
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    $\begingroup$ Whats the units of that number? $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 17:38
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidGrinberg Pounds. At 44k that would suggest just a patrol flight or training flight with no ordnance. When an F-18 is loaded up with bombs it can be well over 50,000 lbs. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 17:43
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    $\begingroup$ @DasBeasto The CV NATOPS says Weight board will be changed in 500- or 1,000-pound increments in accordance with applicable aircraft launch bulletins CV NATOPS pages 4-4 and 4-5. (There's an old copy on line in pdf form circa 1997). This particular practice hasn't changed. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 13:59

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