Thursday, September 24, 2009

Colors of the Flight Deck – Blue and Purple

In a continuing series on my humble electronic home, I want to introduce you to the many and varied colors of shirts worn on the Flight Deck of your typical Aircraft Carrier. The color is significant in what the people are doing and even within the color there are differences.
Explained herein Today's lesson: The Blue and Purple Shirts.
The Blue Shirts, like the Yellow Shirts are Aviation Boatswains Mates (H) and are members of the ships company assigned to the Air Gang (V1 division usually) and work with the Yellow Shirts when aircraft are moved by tractor. It is the Blue Shirt that pulls the chocks and chains off the aircraft and act as spotters during the move. They ensure the aircraft under tow does not hit anything while it is being moved. At the completion of the move, they reinstall the chocks and chains and move on to the next aircraft move.
A Blue at the wheel of a tow tractor during respot of a War Hoover. (USN Photo)

After sufficient training Blue Shirts move to being tractor drivers and eventually, they move up to and become Yellow Shirts. You find Blue Shirts on the Hanger Deck as well (V3 division), assisting in the move and spotting of aircraft down there is even more perilous than up on the flight deck because of the closeness, the tight confined space. Blue Shirts are also tasked with the operation of the large aircraft Elevators which move aircraft from the flight deck down and into the hanger.

A pair of Blue's have pulled the chains off this Marine AH-1 Cobra, it is typical when launching any helo to show the crew that their chains have been removed. Thus the one holding them up, inventory. (USN Photo)

Blues tinkering with the Chains on this V-22. (USN Photo)

A pair of Blues waiting for their next assignment. Note the wheel chock. (USN Photo)

The Purple Shirts or 'Grapes' are also Aviation Boatswains Mates but of the 'F' variety for Fuels. These men and women haul large and heavy hoses to each aircraft and pump them full of gas. This is done almost as soon as the engines are shut down after a flight.

A 'Grape' in their natural pose,

bent with the weight of the fuel hose. (USN Photo)

The fuel hoses are rolled up on large reels that are stationed every 100 feet around the edge of the flight deck. From each of these stations the Grapes control pumps down inside the ship that will pressurize each fuel hose forcing the JP5 fuel into the aircraft. Usually each aircraft is topped off with gas and in only a few instances are the Grapes called upon to 'de-fuel' an aircraft, bringing it down to a specific fuel load.

This is a long run out of hose here. (USN Photo)

The Blue and the Purple, vital personnel in the mix, the salad of the flight deck.

BT: Jimmy T sends.


Buck said...

Reading your flight deck entries caused some long-unused synapses to fire off... specifically about some Navy aircraft carrier guys who were "in port" at Yokokuska back in the day when I was stationed in Tokyo. A whole gaggle of them came to a party thrown by one of TSMP's college buds (one of the Squids was a high-school bud of TSMP's class-mate). It was a BIG party... a couple of hundred attendees, with lots of girls. The interesting thing? These guys couldn't stop talking about WORK and wound up spending the evening getting famously drunk and talking among themselves, when there were all these cuties hanging out... just ripe for the picking. Towards the end of the evening TSMP remarked to me about just how "different" they were compared to the Zoomies she knew and loved... well, ONE particular Zoomie, anyway. :D

Sorry about the digression. "Stuff happens."

JimmyT said...

Buck, I think it is the adrenaline that you have in you when you work up there or even fly off there. You have to be so keyed up all the time or die, that its hard to get it out of your system. At least for me and the crowd I hung around with. Good hard work.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Bag Blog said...

Your talk of colored shirts on deck reminds me of the flags we saw on the Lexington. My daughter was fascinated. When we go camping every fall, my daughter and her friends make a sign for their tent. The first sign years ago said, "No Boys Allowed." After the tour of the Lexington, Jesse made a sign/flag from what she had learned that said something about "needing a pilot."

I figured if Buck could tell a tale, so could I :)

JimmyT said...

Lou, Us sailors called them "Sea Stories", the Marines call them "War Stories", the Army calls them "Land Fables" and the Air Force calls them "Fairy Tails"!!

I guess we have to come up with something for what the Civilians can call them! No matter you can post them here, all are welcome.

BT: Jimmy T sends.