# How does a pilot aim for an aircraft carrier?

This answer suggests the FPV is aimed ahead of the ship. But it doesn't make sense.

A runway running away at 25 knots, is the same as a stationary runway plus 25 knots headwind.

The relative ground speed is the same, i.e., the rate of closure, and the glide-slope is consistent. Shouldn't the FPV be targeted at the touchdown zone?

Perhaps a bit to starboard, toward the island bridge, because that runway is crabbed. What am I missing?

• The picture comes from a FSX sim forum, not sure this is the way it is done actually. – mins Jul 1 '16 at 6:13
• No, the FPV shouldn't be on the touchdown spot. This is because the ship is moving. It really isn't the same as a 25 knot headwind because a headwind slows your approach ground speed, it doesn't change your touchdown point. You have to imagine that the runway you are about to land on isn't where it is right now, it will be where you are aiming for (in the water) when you get there. If you chase it with the FPV you are going to be very low. – Ron Beyer Jul 1 '16 at 16:40
• @ymb1: As I watch that video, it does appear to me that the FPV is ahead of the ship, especially around 20 seconds, all the way up to about 30 seconds. It is only just before touchdown that it moves closer to the actual touchdown point. In the screenshot in this post, the FPV is way too far ahead of the ship, but its reasonable for illustration purposes. – abelenky Jul 2 '16 at 18:57
• @ymb1, no, in that video there is a completely new symbol that compensates for the cross-wind and runway motion, so that one is on the deck. It is not FPM, however (it looks quite similar, but the centre part is a trapezoid (resembling the runway) rather than circle used in FPM). – Jan Hudec Jul 4 '16 at 9:00
• Back before HUDs, the pilots somehow managed to land in the carriers. Lineup, ball, airspeed, AoA. No FPV needed. Rate of closure takes care of itself if you are "on" with those four parameters. No cheap shots regarding HUD cripples will be made, since the HUD/upgraded T-45C substantially increased boarding rates among aviators on their first CQ: it makes the job easier. – KorvinStarmast Nov 19 '16 at 15:35

Hopefully this is a better view of what one should see on approach to a carrier.

Above is a typical textbook case approach to a carrier in an F/A-18E strike fighter. I chose a picture at dusk as it is a little easier to see all the symbology and optical lights more clearly.

Note the jet is aligned with the centerline of the landing area. The optical landing sight or 'ball' can be seen to the left of the landing area with the center amber light aligned with the green row of lights, indicating the jet is on a 3° glide-path and should allow it to touch down between the #2 and #3 cross deck pendants for a good 3-wire approach.

The flight path marker is centered in the 'E' bracket indicating an ideal Angle of Attack for the approach; this is also verified by the amber AoA indexer light to the left of the HUD.

The pilot will do a cyclical scan of the line up, ball and E-bracket, making corrections to the control inputs on each pass. In close, over the ramp, and in the wires this cycle shifts over to a focus on the ball, tracking it all the way to the deck such that touchdown should come as a surprise.

• Welcome Carlo! The site doesn't work like a forum with posts interleaved. You should have only one answer. You may edit your first answer using the editbutton below the answer body. In theory, you could post two answers in some cases, to express two different views, but this is not the case here. – mins Jul 1 '16 at 6:52