What is control line "Carrier"?

Photo of an F8F Bearcat, A Class I (Nostalgia) Carrier, built by
 Keith Trostle, photo by Ted Kraver, SW Regionals, Tuscon, AZ

"Cougar, this is Maverick, we've had enough fun for one day, don't ya think.
I'm gettin a little low on fuel, so, we're headin home.......we'll see ya on deck."

Right out of "Top Gun" the movie, you've gotta remember those frightening words as Maverick had to coach the well experienced, yet thoroughly scared out of his wits, Cougar onto the deck of their aircraft carrier.

Could there be a more challenging experience in the entire world? Maybe, maybe not. But let's just say landing an airplane on the deck of an aircraft carrier has got to be one of, if not, the most hair raising experiences anyone could endure in their lifetime.

And yet we've got ordinary everyday folks doing this very difficult maneuver everyday. And they survive, in one piece, their airplane intact, on deck, ready for the next sortie. How can this be?

Through the fifty plus year old hobby/sport of Navy Carrier Control Line flying, that's how.

In Navy Carrier you have the men and women who like the challenge of landing a small scale size flying model airplane on the deck of an equally small but scale size aircraft carrier. This aircraft carrier however, is not in the middle of one of the world's oceans, but rather it is right there in the back yard of a neighbor or perhaps set-up at some local Control Line flying field.

Photo of a Brewster Profile Carrier model built by Gary Hull, Muncie Nationals. Center Judge is Doc Holiday

And the excitement begins with the first flight of the day. Will this loved pilot, a family person, return from their mission to land safely on the deck of their home carrier? Will they be missing in battle, or perhaps perish in attempting the most difficult aircraft landing known to man?

No pain, no bruises, no fuss, with just the right amount of anxiety. This is Navy Carrier Control Line. Here you or anyone else can experience the thrill of landing an airplane on the deck of an aircraft carrier. Come join in the fun, the excitement, the most thrilling challenge known to man, be a carrier pilot. Take home a trophy without putting your life or limb on the line, and be able to laugh about and enjoy the experience later with all your friends.

The Navy Carrier event came into being in the early 1950's with the first National Model Airplane Championships including Carrier in 1952. This National Championship event was sponsored by the U. S. Navy. Today the Carrier event is sponsored at the National level by the Navy Carrier Society, a group formed in 1977 to promote this activity.

In Navy Carrier the pilot uses a 3 line handle, one line being a throttle control for the engine on the aircraft. The airplane is also equipped with a tail hook, customary for all full scale Navy Carrier aircraft. By way of controlling the speed of the plane with the throttle control the pilot is able to deploy the tail hook just before landing and control the aircraft to an arrested position on the deck of the simulated aircraft carrier. No small amount of skill is involved in this endeavor, yet thousands of participants practice this activity across the world today.

Here's a really cool shot of Gary Hull's "Brewster" where you can see the carrier deck below the airplane. The arresting cables can clearly be seen with the sandbags holding them in place.

Dick Perry photo

If that's not enough, how about this 2006 United States Nationals Championship view of Gary Hull's WWII SBD Dauntless snagging the second cable for a perfect carrier landing. Talk about a good feeling, this is as high as it gets !

Dick Perry photo

There's something for everybody to enjoy in Navy Carrier, if you'd like to pursue this exciting hobby/sport a subscription to Control Line World would be a great first step. You'll be introduced to Navy Carrier and all the other disciplines of Control Line Model Aviation, and at the same time receive a wealth of information about building, engines, testing, trimming, flying, and much more. You can also follow the links below, one of which will take you to the Academy of Model Aeronautics webpage, the internationally recognized organization of model enthusiasts in the United States, and the other to NCS, the SIG (Special Interest Group) for the Navy Carrier Society webpage.

AMA, the Academy of Model Aeronautics

NCS, the SIG (Special Interest Group) for Navy Carrier Society