Dangerous Beautiful Sight

My home for 3 years
In 1974, I was in the U.S. Navy serving on  an aircraft carrier, the USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63). We were in the middle of the Pacific Ocean a thousand miles from the nearest scrap of land when late one evening a Battle Stations drill was conducted. My battle station was at the top of the crow's nest, a position far, far, way-the-hell far up in the air at the top of the ship. Nobody and nothing was above me except the sky and the top part of a communications antenna. From this lofty perch I was supposed to record the action of the battle we were always preparing for or enemy planes flying over and at us or enemy ships firing missiles at us miles away. Since it was just a drill and none of that was actually happening, I was left alone to ponder life and watch all the action of planes taking off below me.

An F-14 "Tom Cat" taking off  from an aircraft carrier with
full afterburners
















When in Battle Station condition, all external lights are eliminated so after the sun set, it became black ink dark. The sea is black, the sky is black, your whole world is black and you can't tell where the ocean waters stop and the horizon begins. It's like being inside a huge ball lined in black velvet. Within a few minutes though, the stars began shining; more stars than can be counted, more stars than can be imagined by anyone who has not been in the middle of an ocean on a cloudless night. The last plane of the exercise to launch was an F-14, a beautifully designed and very deadly twin engine fighter jet. The "Tom Cat" as it was called, took off and with afterburners on full, went straight up into the sky. Nothing in my world was visible except those two bright yellow-orange fireballs going straight up into the blackness and a billion twinkling points of light. Other than my wife on our wedding day and my children when they laugh, it is still the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

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