Friday, May 22, 2009

Aboard the Aircraft Carrier USS Nimitz: Part 2.

It took me a couple days to catch my breath after spending about 30 hours aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz, a floating city with a punch.


As I blogged last week, the tail hook landing was something else. One second you’re flying, and the next second you’re stopped. But the entire crew at NAS, San Diego prepared us for the experience.

(An F/A-18 Hornet prepares to grab the 3-Wire.-Photo by John W. Scherer)


As soon as we landed, flight operations continued with fighter jets landing and taking off within a few feet of us.


We were quickly ushered inside for a briefing. When you’re on an aircraft carrier there are a lot of do’s, and especially a lot of don’ts. Aircraft carriers are warships, and they are dangerous places to work regardless of what your job is on the ship. Operations continue 24 hours a day and crewmembers work 12-hour shifts, seven days a week with no days off.


Our first stop was the bridge, which is a great place to observe flight operations. The captain of the Nimitz, Michael A. Manazir, showed us around. Seeing how the crew's focus was on the bridge (and everywhere onboard) was incredible.

(John W. Scherer with Captain Michael A. Manazir)

(The discipline, organization and pride are evident.-Photo by John W. Scherer)


The world situation being what it is, we were on an official wartime footing while at sea. No room for mistakes. And they don’t make any aboard the Nimitz. Many of the crew are just kids in their late teens or early 20’s. We don’t pay them nearly enough for the sacrifices they make to keep us safe and free. Their families make huge sacrifices, too. Imagine having a loved one gone for six months at a time.


With over 1,100 feet of length, a flight deck 4.5 acres in size and a crew of some 5-thousand men and women, everything about the Nimitz impresses. The enemy never sleeps, and neither does the United States Navy. The Nimitz represents the best of the best. I was just so proud to meet the officers and enlisted crewmembers.

(Some of the folks who work the toughest job in the world: keeping us free.)

(Prepping an A-6 Intruder for flight.-Photo by John W. Scherer)


If you love peace and quiet, an aircraft carrier isn’t the place to be. It’s noisy all the time, everywhere you go. It’s not just the jets, but the powerful catapults that launch the planes, the arrester gear that stops the planes plus the noise of machinery, the crew and the sounds of a warship at sea.


As big as the ship is, space is at a premium both on the flight deck and below deck. Privacy is also at a premium. Yet, thousands of crewmembers, men and women, find a way to make it work. The key is training and discipline. After a 12-hour day, most of us would just like to hit the pillow. Not aboard the Nimitz. Crewmembers are working on getting degrees, advancing their skill sets, taking care of laundry and of course grabbing some chow. Talk about appetites!

(John W. Scherer presents the Nimitz with a complete Video Professor learning library.)


Ultimately it’s the flight operations that absolutely stun you. Planes landing and taking off just a few feet from where you’re standing takes your breath away. Another thing you never do on an aircraft carrier is let your mind wander.

(Open 24/7, the ship never sleeps.-Photo by John W. Scherer)

(The “Island”-Photo by John W. Scherer)

(The fighter behind John will go from zero to 160 knots in just seconds.)

(The “Cat,” a.k.a. world’s biggest slingshot!)


The bottom line is that I can’t think of a better career for a young man or woman than our military. It’s not for everyone because you can’t just be “anyone” and make it aboard a ship like the Nimitz. The skills, the discipline and the focus on excellence are of the highest level. There are no unimportant jobs. Pilots; the crew both above and below the flight deck; the specialists who work on the bridge, prep the planes for flight, manage the weapons systems, choreograph the ballet of dozens of planes taking off and landing at the same time; the engineers who manage the nuclear propulsion systems and even the cooks all play a key role in keeping the ship, shipshape.


I just don’t have the words to describe the pride I have in them, the feeling in my heart knowing they take the battle to the enemy, the knowledge that they volunteered to do it and above all how they work with a level of pride and excellence that is far too rare these days.


There are simply none better anywhere. Their work gets far too little attention or appreciation. The last thing you want to do is mess with them. They’ll hit back and hit back hard. It’s their job, and they’re committed to it 24/7, 365 days a year.

(John W. Scherer makes a new friend aboard the Nimitz.)

(The Nimitz packs a punch.-Photo by John W. Scherer)

(Don’t mess with the Navy, because this is what you get in return.)


My time aboard the Nimitz, getting to know the fine men and women who defend this nation aboard one of the most powerful warships in the world, is a memory I’ll keep forever.


I’m free to write this, free to come to work and run my business, not to fear someone coming to take me away in the middle of the night because of all the members of our military.


They volunteered for the job and make incredible sacrifices, and I hope this blog will make you think about them, even for just a few moments and appreciate what they do for us.


My trip was an absolutely incredible experience for a land-bound CEO who learned more than a few things and is better for it.


Thank you Captain Manazir and your entire crew; I salute you all.



John W. Scherer

John is CEO and Founder of Video Professor, Inc.

You can reach him at