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A Flight Deck Odyssey

Flight Deck


A Pictorial Essay Of A Day In The Life Of An Airdale

Anchors Aweigh!

Be sure your computer audio is on so you can hear the military band.

USS Antietam

This absolutely unique book contains 355 superb full-size photographs (Part 1 has 204 and Part 2 has 151) which document life on the flight deck of a fleet WWII aircraft carrier where the Airdale (flight deck crewman) goes in harm’s way each and every day, such as during aircraft launch operations (among the slashing 13-foot diameter propellers powered by 2,000-hp engines), during aircraft landings (putting out conflagrations from possible aircraft crashes) and during the parking of aircraft (when standing but a few feet from a possible hail of shrapnel).Then one should not omit the devastation of possible Kamikaze (suicide) assaults from above. Each of the 355 photo(s) has a fulsome caption, in the first-person, describing in detail, both subjectively and objectively, the contents of the picture. Many, many of the photos are deserving of being shown in their own frames of wood or displayed on large TV screens (the naval “photographer mates” who took these pictures are indeed outstanding craftmen). Finally, this book (Parts 1 & 2) is quite literally one of a kind for ALL time (being the first, and the last, one EVER written about this subject (in the 1st person).

There they stand, row on row, column on column, that phalanx of behemoths daring you to advance into that fearsome and fearful realm, that dismal and daunting domain of the beleaguered Airdale.

[“Hell yes, the (U.S.S. Antietam) Airdales were ’nervous in the service’” (but hey, it was just another day at the office.) (Remember, the Battle of Antietam was the bloodiest single day in American history)].

Flight Deck

“Stand clear of propellers. Prepare to start engines. Start engines” intones a stern voice over the PA system. And so starts another daily drama on the flight deck of a WWII aircraft carrier for that intrepid band of Airdales as they go forth in and amongst that menacing and unforgiving phalanx of fired up aircraft. It has been said that “the flight deck of a WWII carrier was one of the most dangerous places in the world“ (I didn’t think this at the time but with time I won’t contend it). Come on aboard, up close and personal, and then you decide for yourself. I promise that you won’t get hurt. Now check out the videos below of the four aircraft that were carried by the U.S.S. Antietam, my constant home during those days of 1945-1946. They filled my life in a way that was and always will be indelible.


The author, kneeling at the left, one week after having been transferred to the Airdales and just before having been given the Airdale’s blue shirt, blue clothe helmet, goggles and brown flight deck shoes. Shown is the “lean, mean fighting machine” named the F4U Corsair whose 13-ft. diameter propeller, powered by a 2,000-hp engine, stirs up quite a storm. Unless and until the Airdales pull the wheelchocks there will be no aircraft leaving the flight deck thus rendering this huge ship’s purpose useless. But be assured, these carriers were the “point of the spear” as the U.S forces fought their way westward across the Pacific.

Edward Atkins

The author grew up in Upper Montclair, NJ where he attained the Eagle Scout Badge with Bronze Palm at 14 years of age. He attended Newark Academy from 1939 to 1944 where he played on the varsity football and basketball teams. He then served in the navy during the latter stages of WWII after which he graduated from Yale University with a BS degree in Business Administration. Next he worked in NYC banks and several electronics firms which fabricated military equipment. With this he returned to college to earn a BSEE degree (1957-1959). He then went to work for a company managing the Polaris Missile System for the U.S. Navy. This led to working for the Navy Department (Naval Electronic Systems Command) in Washington , DC as a management engineer until retirement in 1991. His outside interests centered on the field of robotic devices for use in manufacturing companies (nonprofessional). He also spent time learning how to use neural networks for applications in medical diagnosis, maintenance, decision-making and other IF-THEN problems. Then, starting in 1998 he devoted himself to producing a Trilogy. The first volume of this Trilogy is titled "On Which We Serve"; the second and third volumes are finished and awaiting publication.


Part 1 Shield Part 2

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