Carrier Quals


There is a well-kept secret among aviators that very few people know about, and even fewer actually witness. It is kind of like the green flash that supposedly can be seen at sunset. People have heard about it, many have claimed to have seen it, and a much smaller number actually have.

The secret is called Carrier Quals, and it takes place in bars where aviators hang out. There are only two things needed to play Carrier Quals: a long table and alcohol. The idea is to run toward the table, jump on it and slide forward until your feet catch the edge. If you miss with your feet you keep sliding and land on the floor.

If you were the player, you would be the jet in this video. Your drunken buddies would be the flight deck crew.

I have never participated in Carrier Quals, because (a) I drove ships and (b) I guess that’s it. I drove ships.

But they are real, and as the song says, they have been the ruin of many a poor boy.


The other communities do not have equivalent traditions, which probably explains scenes like this:


That I have witnessed.

It is important, though, that aviator traditions stay with aviators. I say let the other communities come up with their own. To try to copy one that is not uniquely theirs just makes them look foolish.


The closest thing to a Surface Warfare tradition that I saw was probably karaoke (also known as ripping the microphone out of the singer’s hands in mid-song). There was one officer in our wardroom who, in every liberty port and after getting sufficiently intoxicated, would jump on stage and sing the same song before getting kicked out by security.

The song?

House of the Rising Sun, of course.


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