Landing and launching takes place only after the ship is turned into the wind. Each of the four catapults on the Enterprise can launch an F-14 every one minute and 45 seconds, for a total rate of about one plane every 30 seconds. A heavily-trained flight deck crew orchestrates the operation of the catapult, a giant steam-driven slingshot that hurls the jet off the short runway.
The launching process really begins in the navigation tower. The carrier must be steered into the wind, so that air passing over the wings of the planes creates enough lift at take off.
The catapult officer, or shooter, (far left, in yellow) stands in the center hatch of the runway and orchestrates communication between the pilot and deck crew. The roar of the engines is so loud, the crew members must use hand signals to communicate.
Even pilots agree that at peace-time, it's more dangerous to be on the flight deck than in the air. Deck members must actively avoid accidents such as: getting an arm sucked into a jet engine intake, being run over by a safety truck backing up, running into propellers, or being blown overboard from walking behind a jet exhaust.