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Home >> Standard Operating Procedures >> Carrier Ops >> CASE 1

This section holds all CASE 1 procedures that are relevant for our use in DCS.

Main Sources: and replies from GB.

Important note: IRL the procedures during carrier quals differ quite a bit from cyclic ops. The procedures here are based on cyclic ops procedures, but have elements inspired by CQ procedures, in the ambition to have procedures that work well in our context where DCS visibility is limited, the skill level of individual sim pilots may vary and so on.

What is CASE 1?

CASE 1 is the state when it's daytime and the weather allows for good visibility around the boat. Formally, it's "during day VMC (Visual Meteorological Conditions) conditions (WX 3,000-5 or better)", meaning the ceiling is no lower than 3,000 feet, and the visibility is no less than 5 nautical miles.

Short Summary


  • Take off and perform a small clearing turn.
  • Continue along BRC (the carrier's heading) at 500 ft and 300 kts until 7 nm DME.
  • Climb freely.


  • Flight leader contacts Marshal (Ch 16 261.00) at ~50 nm DME. Report flight members, position, altitude and lowest fuel. Hook down!
  • Approach the carrier, making sure you're on assigned altitude before 10 nm DME.
  • When visual (typically 10 nm DME) report "see you at X nm". Switch to Tower (Ch 1 305.00). Go Fingertip Left formation.
  • Tangentially enter the 5 nm diameter port hold (see image) at 250 kts at any point in this circle. Maintain Fingertip Left formation. Note that the image shows this circle a little off. The port hold circle is located to the left of the ship, with its rightmost point (point 1) being right above the boat.
  • When Tower says "Your signal is Charlie", commence at point 3 in the hold, going Echelon Right formation and accelerating to 350 kt, slowly decending to 800'.
  • Break at 800 ft and 350 kts shortly after the bow. 15 second intervals between each break.
  • Aim for 1.2 nm from the boat when abeam, at 600 ft. Turn final immediately (i.e when you got the boat on your 9 o'clock) and land.


Detailed Instructions

Overhead port hold
Port hold and exit
Break and pattern


On The Boat

  • Set radio to Tower Ch 1 305.00.
  • When your flight is ready to depart, ask Tower for taxi clearance to the catapults (Cat 1 is the right-most, Cat 4 is the left-most).
  • Taxi to the cats and request takeoff.


  • With ~10 second intervals, call out your launch, ex "Enfield11, taking off" and take off.
  • Call airborne. Ex "Enfield11, airborne!".
  • Make a small clearing turn to the right (if on cat 1 or 2) or left (if on cat 3 or 4).
  • Turn to the BRC. Climb to 500 ft and accelerate to 300 kts.
  • At 7 nm DME, start climbing to desired altitude.
  • Flight lead decides when to leave the frequency and go to the package channel.
  • Form up with your flight.


Arriving to the Carrier Control Zone

  • Perform HAIL-R checks:
    • H - Hook down.
    • A - Anti-skid off / Altimeter. (Also set/confirm Hook Bypass to CARRIER)
    • I - Instruments. (Turn on ILS, general checks)
    • L - Landing weight / Lights For Hornet: Max 34k lbs. Full position lights (for DCS visibility reasons)
    • R - RADALT (Pilot preference. 380' is recommended)
  • At 50 nm DME, switch to Marshal channel Ch 16 261.00.
  • Flight lead contacts Marshal stating your flight's members, position, altitude and lowest fuel state. Marshal will provide your Marshal instructions.
  • Comms example:
    • You: "Marshal, Chevy11" (i.e Chevy One One)
    • Marshal: "Chevy11, Courage Marshal"
    • You: "Chevy11 holding hands with Chevy12, marking Mother's 070 for 48, angels 14, low state 6.5"
    • Marshal: "Chevy11, Case 1, BRC is 264. Expected Charlie time 22. Report see me."
  • If you haven't already gotten a pre-briefed holding altitude, Marshal will provide you with one (anything from angels 2 and above, in 1000 foot increments).

Entering the Port Hold

  • If available, set your course line to BRC, scaling the HSI to 10 nm.
  • Decend to the holding altitude before you have reached 10 nm DME.
  • When visual (typically 10 nm DME) report "see you at X nm".
  • Switch to Tower Ch 1 305.00.
  • Enter the holding pattern from any direction, tangentially on the 5 nm diameter circle on the port side of the ship. Fly 250 kts IAS.
  • Wingmen should fly in parade formation. #2 on the right side of lead, 3# on the left side of lead, and #4 on the left side of #3 (like an Air Force "fingertip left" formation).

Exiting the Port Hold

  • Tower may give a global "99, signal is charlie", upon which the flight at angels 2 may commence, and the stack above decends and commences at their own will when it looks clear below. However, normally we do not use zip-lip procudures.
  • In our case, because of the limited visibility in DCS, we are not zip-lip and Tower instead controls the stack, giving "your signal is charlie" to one flight at a time, and explicitly instructs other flights to decend.
  • When you exit the holding, you should be on the left-most end of the circle (i.e point 3). Call out "Chevy1 commencing" and exit backwards in a tear drop-shaped style.
  • Accelerate to 350 kts IAS. #3 and #4 crosses under to the right into an Echelon Right formation.
  • While gradually decending towards 800', smoothly turn left into the BRC, ideally ending up around 3 nm behind the boat. At this point, call out "Chevy1, initial".

Entering the Break

  • Pass the ship in Echelon Right formation at 800'. 350 kts IAS.
  • Lead should break left shortly after having passed the bow. Wingmen break in 15 seconds interval, making sure nobody proceeds farther than 4 nm ahead of the ship before breaking.
  • At the break, go idle and extend speed brakes, turn hard left maintaining 800'. A rule of thumb is holding G equal to 1/100 of your speed. So at 270 kts, hold 2.7 G.
  • Regardless how you perform the break, make sure you extend gears and full flaps as soon as you're below 250 kts, and make sure you end up at 1.1 - 1.3 nm from the course line when downwind.
  • As you're entering the downwind, decend to 600' and add trim to fly on-speed.

The Final Turn

  • When abeam (i.e passing the ship again), start turning final right away! Do NOT delay this turn as it will cause trouble for the aircraft behind you! A 30 degree bank is a good rule of thumb. If it's relevant for the situation to make people aware of where you are, you can callout "Chevy11, abeam" at this point.
  • Decend slightly. Ideally you should be half-way through the turn ("at the ninety") at 450-500'. Take a look at the ship and start correcting your turn so you cross the wake and end up behind the angled deck ("entering the groove") around 15-18 seconds before wheels down.
  • As soon as you see the meat ball, call out [Callsign] [Aircraft Type] Ball [Fuelstate]. For instance "Chevy11, Hornet Ball, 4.5".
  • Fly the ball all the way to touchdown.
  • As soon as you touch down, ALWAYS add full power or even afterburner. Don't anticipate that you have caught a wire.

Bolters and Waveoffs

  • If you get waved off, add full power and fly over the angled deck.
  • If you bolter (i.e miss the wires) or get waved off, as soon as you have cleared the ship's bow, make a small right turn to align yourself with BRC.
  • Climb to 600'. Keep gear, flaps and hook extended. Continue flying on-speed.
  • Visually scan the situation around you.
  • When clear, turn left and re-enter the pattern downwind towards the abeam position, and try again.

On the Deck

  • If you get caught in a wire and it won't release from the hook, wiggle the nose wheel right and left until it releases.
  • Raise the hook, fold the wings, and quickly but carefully exit the runway to the right.
  • Contact tower and ask for parking instructions, or, if the situation doesn't allow, just park at any available spot.


  • We don't do shit-hot-breaks. If you come into the break alone, or as a flight lead, and you are VERY skilled in this technique, you may do a SHB. But if you do, do NOT screw it up.
  • If somebody is in the groove, pause radio comms until they are down, have boltered or have been waved off. You don't want to step on an important LSO call.
  • For practical reasons, we use tactical callsigns, like Chevy11 around the boat, instead of board numbers (as in real life).
  • Because of the poor visibility in DCS, we are not zip-lip during CASE 1. The radio callouts are there to improve everyone's SA.
  • The CAG (i.e the mission planner) may decide a tank limit and a number of additional passes required when you first show up at the ball. For instance, "Hornet Tank 3.0 and T + 2". Each pass is assumed to consume 500 lbs (1000 during night). So in the 3.0 T + 2 example, you need to have 4000 lbs when showing up on the ball for the first pass, 3500 on your second and 3000 on your third. If you bolter a third time you need to go to the overhead tanker.
  • If no limits are pre-briefed, make sure to show up at the ball with at least 3000 lbs, and always hit the tanker if you go below 2000 lbs.

Question Marks and Discussion Points

  • IRL, during day-time carrier ops, all aircraft have all their lights turned off. Should we use this procedure, or keep position lights on? The DCS visibility is poor enough as it is. But do lights currently even help with visibility in daylight?
  • Would it be fun/cool/interesting to use board numbers instead of tactical callsigns around the boat for the sake of more realism, or would it just be to put unecessary requirements on pilots, carrier personel and mission builders to remember this?