How Planes Take Off from and Land on Aircraft Carriers
No matter how big the carriers are, their runways are still much smaller than on land.
Aircraft carriers today carry many airplanes into battlefields around the world. But have you ever thought about how those planes take off and land from these ships?
Indeed, even if they are massive, aircraft carrier runways are still much shorter than those available on land. Planes can successfully take off and land on aircraft carriers thanks to something called the aircraft catapult system.
Since the ships lack distance, a catapult is used to give the plane enough speed for takeoff. This catapult system can be misleading if you simply look at it from a distance. It looks simply like a line of track.
But don't let that fool you! It has the ability to help a plane accelerate from 0 to 165 knots in less than 2 and a half seconds thanks to its impressive below decks engineering.
How does it work? Before the launch of an aircraft, large accumulator tanks collect high-pressure steam. Next, this steam is siphoned off from the nuclear reactors aboard the ship and stored in pressurized tanks.
Once these tanks reach the desired pressure, the aircraft carrier's catapult is ready to fire. How does this steam create acceleration and what happens next for the plane? These are all questions we answer in our video.