Job Family: Aviation Aircraft Launch and Recovery Specialists
Services Offering this Occupation
 | Navy  | Marine Corps  | Coast Guard

Supplemental Information
Profile  |  Career Path
Photo 1: Airman standing on deck of aircraft carrier. Photo 2: Airman clears aircraft for launch.

James DiMarco
Occupation: Aircraft Launch and Recovery Specialist

I joined the Navy with the idea of becoming an electrician. But, after basic training, I was assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea, where …

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Short Description
The military operates thousands of aircraft that take off and land on aircraft carriers all over the world. The successful launch and recovery of aircraft is important to the completion of air missions and the safety of flight crews. Aircraft launch and recovery specialists operate and maintain catapults, arresting gear, and other equipment used in aircraft carrier takeoff and landing operations.


What They Do
Aircraft launch and recovery specialists in the military perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Operate consoles to control launch and recovery equipment, including catapults and arresting gear
  • Operate elevators to transfer aircraft between flight and storage decks
  • Install and maintain visual landing aids
  • Test and adjust launch and recovery equipment
  • Install airfield crash barriers and barricades
  • Direct aircraft launch and recovery operations
  • Operate and service aircraft ground-handling equipment and machinery
  • Operate and service aircraft crash, firefighting, and rescue equipment

Helpful Attributes
Helpful school subjects include shop mechanics. Helpful attributes include:
  • Ability to use hand tools and test equipment
  • Interest in aircraft flight operations
  • Interest in working on hydraulic and mechanical equipment

Training Provided
Job training consists of classroom instruction, including practice in maintaining launch and recovery equipment. Course content typically includes:
  • Operating and maintaining launch and recovery equipment
  • Installing crash barriers and barricades

Work Environment
Aircraft launch and recovery specialists work outdoors aboard ships while operating and maintaining launch and recovery equipment or holding visual landing aids for incoming aircraft. They are exposed to noise and fumes from jet and helicopter engines.


Civilian Counterparts
There are no direct civilian counterparts to military aircraft launch and recovery specialists. However, many of the skills learned are relevant to jobs performed by ground crews at civilian airports.

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