Marshaling in the 'Stack'

So I want to try out a bit more procedural flying in the Hornet (will the fun just ever start!), and am enjoying reading the surprisingly readable Naval Air Training Command CV Procedures as part of my braining up on the LSO script new bits on ‘the stack’ here.

One question I have is around the fact that I obviously have to fly a reliable distance from the Carriers TACAN, so for the ‘Stack’ at 5 NM DME in my assigned altitude. Here’s the diagram of entering the pattern:

So it makes sense, in that hold like this:

I descend in the dark blue bits and exit the pattern at point ‘3’ at about 210 degrees off the Base Recovery Course (BRC) of mother. That I can do, I just need to remember to drop down to the next level in the stack in behind the carrier at each interval as others leave the stack.

Q1. What I’m not sure about is what sort of turn rate or things should I be monitoring to make sure I am in that circular 5 NM pattern? Is there a ‘standard turn’ bank indicator in the Hornet I should be using? I can use the distance measure value in the HSI for the 5 NM bit and eyeball where the TACAN is (or just look out the window), I just want to make sure I’m not missing anything just trying to manually circle the ship properly. As I understand it point ‘1’ on the diagram is over the ship, and this is a Port pattern, right?

Q2. The docs talk about maintaining ‘Max Conserve Fuel Flow’ while marshaling. What’s that for the Hornet, or is that in some MFD page that isn’t done yet? What is a good rough value for this, 300 KTs? I understand that when in the pattern I need to maintain distance, i.e. 180 with 2 of us etc so will speed up/down, but more just for idling in the stack then what is good?

Q3. If someone waves off / bolters, are they in priority if someone else is entering the pattern? As in if I get a ‘Charlie’ call from the stack at 2000 ft, I’m heading 210 off BRC, down to 800 ft heading away and someone bolters then do I ‘Spin’, as in climb to 1,200 ft and just circle in the pattern (above their 600 ft I guess) until numbnuts finally gets a hook? Don’t they ever have to spin or is it loser first?

Thanks for any help or insight. I do enjoy these bits.


Found some similar questions here:

The VFA 113 Stingers did a diagram that helps a lot:

The answers from others seem to be:

A1. 250kts 30° AoB works ok. Around ‘the post’ you just eyeball it, with point ‘3’ being 5 NM DME and 2 and 4 being 3 ish.

A2. Dependent on weight but 250kts is ok.

A3. Not sure. It looks like whoever is first gets to go to the break first, as in people just slot in with a maximum of 6 in the pattern at a time.


It depends. If you’re forward of the bow when they bolter, you’ll have priority for the break and they’ll have to follow you.

If you’re aft, they’ll have priority but if he’s the only guy in the pattern, you should be able to proceed for a normal break provided he turns early enough.

As a general rule, if there are two other aircraft forward of the bow as you’re about to break, it’s time to spin.


Thanks @boomerang10. So just to confirm some typical procedure / radio steps in all this:

  1. Red Crown check-in at 50 NM+ so as not to get shot down.
  2. Strike check-in, with the ‘no alibis’ to say all is good and to say hi. Strike is the mission coordinator?
  3. Marshal check-in, where you confirmed it’s a Case 1 and a stack entry altitude?
  4. A Marshal ‘See you’ report at visual/10 NM or so.
  5. Tower check-in where it’s your time to leave Stack after the general ‘Charile’ starting time and then into pattern? I’m unsure of when the Marshal hands over to Tower… I think most of the time radio calls are minimal (ziplip etc) but again unsure.
  6. LSO calls in groove.

Also, as an aside and as stupid as it sounds in practicing this, I’ve also just realized that the bank angle scale ticks are at 5 (the two small ticks just off center), 15, 30, 45 marks. Sounds obvious in retrospect but maybe it’ll help someone else. :blush:

(I’m writing numbers with a mouse, I don’t have anything wrong with me, at least not like that).


This all great stuff, thanks for asking and digging up the info.

However, I do feel the pejorative “numbnuts” is punitive and slightly unfair considering the frequency I get assigned a jet with a defective tailhook.


1/2- sound about right, the no alibis part would just indicate to your squadron and maintenance if there’s any issues with the jet coming back so they can get ready for troubleshooting, etc.

3/4- You’ll get the weather and recovery info, but stack altitude is determined by your squadron. Typically a squadron will share an altitude with one of the other squadrons. If you want to have a lower entry, it’s up to you to have awareness to the schedule and any cancellations to know if there’s room. You’ll give a “see you at XX” and if it’s case one, you’ll switch to tower and you’re done talking. Getting into the pattern is looking at your radar, L16, and visually to find the other traffic at your altitude and do some of that pilot stuff to sequence yourself in appropriately.

5- You’ll be listening to tower but you won’t talk. Whoever is in a position to come down from 2k when the deck opens, goes. It’s purely visual and about knowing gouge timing for how many jets are left to launch before you come down if you’re “breaking the deck”, IE the first one to break once a recovery period starts. After that, it’s a toilet bowl effect for the stack coming down. Generally speaking, with a hole at 2k, someone from 3 will come down, and the other aircraft originally at 2 will commence once they’re aft of the ship. (Remember they would have been cross circle at point 1/2 as the first aircraft was commencing to break the deck.)

6- LSO calls daytime are only when required when you need a correction and they don’t see you making it. Ideally you’ll hear and say nothing.


What happens (or should happen) when you are told to wave off. I pressed my landings before because I was not sure what to do. Do I just go around and immediately enter into the break pattern again? Gear up, flaps up and back at it or do you exit and re-marshal?

1 Like

From the procedures PDF link in the first post I got the impression you didn’t clean up the jet, but climbed out and kept in the pattern at 600 ft and then just joined in the interval with a break to have another go.

Waveoff. Waveoffs are MANDATORY. All waveoffs are made up the angled deck
unless otherwise directed by the LSO or the tower (i.e. “waveoff starboard side”). All
aircraft must comply with waveoff signals, whether they are verbal or solely with the
waveoff lights on the lens. Waveoffs may result from a fouled deck, winds out of
limits, or aircraft not being set up for a safe landing.

To perform a waveoff, simultaneously advance power to MRT, retract speed brakes,
maintain landing attitude (not to exceed optimum AOA), level wings, and climb up
the angled deck. Verify a positive rate of climb and maintain optimum AOA. Once
you have established a positive rate of climb and you are abeam the bow, use a
shallow right turn to parallel the ship’s BRC. Climb to 600 feet and turn downwind
with proper interval

Same sort of thing with a bolter or touch and go.

1 Like

The Fighter Pilot Podcast episode entitled Night Carrier Landings covers this topic from about the 18 minute point on. Granted different than Case I, but some of the concepts are the same. Worth a listen, IMHO.

1 Like