Reader voices: Seeing, both physically and spiritually

By Richard D. Calderwood

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, Oct. 20 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

We have two kinds of eyes: physical eyes, which we can knock out with a sharp stick, and spiritual eyes, which we can knock out with sin.

Physical eyes

With our physical eyes, we see things around us in our daily activities such as walking, reading, working, etc. Many of us go to an eye doctor to have our eyes examined, then wear glasses to be able to see better.

In many of the stories by author Louis L'Amour, he mentions how important it is to not look into the campfire at night because it lessens the ability to see clearly at night.

As a highly trained Navy night all-weather, radar, special weapons pilot, I had made 120 landings on aircraft carriers, 20 of which were at night, in my short career as a Navy pilot.

To adapt our physical eyes to the pinnacle of efficiency for night flying, we wore red goggles for 30 minutes before leaving the pilots' ready room where the regular white lights were on. This adaptation was to help the rods and cones in our eyes perceive things better in the dark. When we were called to man our planes, we left the ready room and crossed the passage way to the flight deck. All lights on the flight deck were red, the lights on the instrument panels in the planes were also red. There was to be no white light visable on the flight deck, even the flashlights were red light!

The plane captains helped us get comfortably seated in the cockpit with our seat belt and shoulder harness in place. We then started the engines and tuned in the radio, then taxied onto the catapult. The deck crew rolled under the plane and attached the catapult bridle to the plane. The deck launch officer instructed us to run up the engines to full speed and to check all the gauges and set the flaps for takeoff.

When all was correct, having your left hand on the throttle fully forward, you saluted the launch officer, and dropped your right hand to the control stick, put your head back on the head rest and your feet on the rudder peddles.

They then fired the catapult.

In 120 feet, you were going about 135 mph air speed, the ship was doing 25 to 30 mph. We then would climb to 250 feet altitude, while "cleaning up the bird" — folding wheels and adjusting the flaps. We then would count off 17 seconds and roll into a left-hand standard rate turn for 34 seconds.

If you were launched going east, this turning would mean you were now going west, maintaining 250 feet altitude. When the radio compass — called the bird dog needle — reached the 9 o'clock position, you had turned 180 degrees and were directly abreast the carrier, going in the opposite direction.

All of this time you were scanning the instrument panel, altimeter for height above the water, compass for heading, airspeed indicator for speed and attitude for wing level.

When the bird dog needle reached the 9 o'clock position, we had been highly warned to not look for the position of the carrier, but to rely on the gauges. They were your lifeline. Do not interrupt your scan pattern!

At the 180 degree position, you were to call the tower, telling them all was down and locked. This meant that you had dropped the wheels and hook, set the flaps for landing and had reduced power to 68 percent. You then rolled into a left-hand standard rate turn.

Because of the turn, reduction of power, and with the wheels, hook and flaps down, you would be loosing altitude. At the 90 degree position, you would be at 125 feet above the water. In about five seconds, from the corner of your left eye, you could see the fluorescent glow of the seawater, turned up by the ship's screw propellers.

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