Navy photographer Patrick Althizer documented action aboard two U.S. aircraft carriers

Patrick Althizer

From 1965 to 1967, Navy photographer Patrick Althizer sailed in the Gulf of Tonkin aboard USS Hancock and USS Midway, where he took photos that vividly show what he describes as the “controlled chaos” of aircraft takeoffs and landings. Althizer, who served in the Navy from October 1963 to August 1967, was assigned to photo school in Pensacola, Florida, after training in San Diego. In August 1964, he began a tour aboard the Midway, flagship of the 7th Fleet. Subsequently he lived and worked on the Hancock for about two years and completed two additional Vietnam tours.

  • A catapult officer signals a pilot to go 100 percent on the engine just before launch.
  • An F-8 from squadron VF-53 traps the No. 3 wire upon return from a combat mission.
  • “Tilly Bars,” aircraft tow bars, are being taken to small tractors that will tow jets around the deck.
  • An A-3 Skywarrior bomber, nicknamed “the Whale,” from heavy attack squadron VAH-10 rolls down the catapult.
  • Crewmen on the starboard catapult appear ghostly as they prepare hookups for a launch.
  • A catapult crew waits for the sled to return and the next aircraft to be brought forward for launch.
  • A flight deck director, a position marked by yellow shirts, signals a pilot to brake the left wheel and rev up the engine to turn an aircraft as it approaches the launch catapult.
  • A plane captain—a deck crewman in charge of an aircraft’s maintenance and preparation—signals his plane’s pilot to start the engines to prepare for launch.
  • A catapult officer aboard USS Hancock gives an F-8 Crusader from fighter squadron VF-211 the “go” sign.

After his discharge, Althizer applied his photography skills in industry, advertising and real estate. His work took him inside the Apollo 11, 12 and 13 space capsules during their assembly.

In 2009, he created Photo Safari Yosemite Private Tours and today employs five guides who give tours of Yosemite National Park to visitors interested in photography. V

This article appeared in the October 2020 issue of Vietnam magazine. For more stories from Vietnam magazine, subscribe here and visit us on Facebook: