Is there any military movie that has as iconic an opening scene as Top Gun? Okay, maybe Patton, but we're getting sidetracked. The Tom Cruise/Val Kilmer epic about naval aviators starts on the deck of a carrier, before launching into the wild blue yonder with a soundtrack that goes from zero to 150 as fast as the F-14 Tomcats that star alongside Cruise and Kilmer.

But as Hollywood has a way of glossing over the intricacies of certain things, you don't quite get the whole picture of what the enormous effort it takes to launch a two-seat, twin-engine interceptor from the floating fortress that is an American aircraft carrier. If, however, you want to know about the nitty gritty of launching a plane like the F-14 from a flattop, you'll want to head over to Foxtrot Alpha, where the team has scored a first-person account of the experience.

The walkthrough from LCDR Joe "Smokin" Ruzicka, a F-14 radar-intercept officer, is informative, covering everything from pre-flight procedures to the sensation that comes when the steam-powered catapult zooms the F-14 from zero to 150 miles per hour in less than two seconds. Oh, and the launch that Ruzicka is talking about takes place at night. It's very much worth a read, so head over and take a look.

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