The Aviation Boatswain's Mates, otherwise known as airdales, play a vital role in the operations of an aircraft carrier. They are responsible for aircraft movement throughout the ship, operating the four giant aircraft elevators, refueling the planes and helicopters, and directing the catapult launches. They also get to clean up the mess whenever a plane crashes on the deck.
The airdales are the most visible segment of a carrier's flight deck crew, and they essentially "own the flight deck". There are very few places on the flight deck which the airdales don't control, one of which is the Aviation Ordnancemen's Bomb Farm. As an AO3, I once had to pull rank when a very insubordinate airdale apprentice refused to acknowledge the boundaries of my bomb farm.
Aviation Boatswain's Mate Third Class Randy Higham sent me all these terrific photos, which were taken during the same time frame as my photos throughout the rest of this site. Higham and myself worked together in 1994 in the SFOMS/Berthing department during the final months of Big E's four-year shipyard overhaul.
These photos are all of airdales in their natural habitat: in the catapult control and machinery rooms, in the catwalks, and on the flight deck...
All photos on this page provided courtesy of ABE3 Randy Higham. Thanks, Randy!
Big E |
Ordies II |
Portsmouth II |
AO3 Smitty's USS Enterprise Logbook
message board and guestbook