Is becoming an aircraft launch and recovery specialist right for me?

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What do aircraft launch and recovery specialists do?
What are aircraft launch and recovery specialists like?

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How to become an Aircraft Launch and Recovery Specialist

Becoming an aircraft launch and recovery specialist involves following a specific path of education, training, and military service. Here are the detailed steps:

  • Meet Basic Requirements: Ensure you meet the basic requirements to join the United States Navy or Marine Corps. This typically includes being a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, meeting age and physical fitness requirements, and having a high school diploma or equivalent.
  • Enlist in the Navy or Marine Corps: Join the Navy or Marine Corps by enlisting in the appropriate branch of service. During the enlistment process, you can express your interest in becoming an ALARS and request the relevant training. See Navy or Marine ROTC.
  • Complete Basic Military Training: Undergo basic military training, also known as boot camp, which provides the foundation for military service. During this training, you will learn discipline, military customs, physical fitness, and basic military skills.
  • Select Aviation Ratings: After basic training, you will have the opportunity to select an aviation-related rating (job) within the Navy or Marine Corps. Choose a rating that aligns with your goal of becoming an ALARS. Some relevant ratings include Aviation Boatswain's Mate - Equipment (ABE) in the Navy or Aviation Support Equipment Technician (AS) in the Marine Corps.
  • Attend "A" School Training: Following the selection of your aviation rating, you will attend an "A" School for specialized training specific to that rating. The training will cover the technical knowledge and skills required for aircraft launch and recovery operations.
  • Complete On-the-Job Training: After "A" School, you will undergo on-the-job training (OJT) to gain practical experience and further develop your skills as an ALARS. During OJT, you will work under the guidance of experienced ALARS personnel, performing actual launch and recovery operations on aircraft carriers or designated platforms.
  • Gain Certification and Qualification: As part of your training and OJT, you will need to achieve various certifications and qualifications specific to your role as an ALARS. This may include certifications for operating catapult systems, arresting gear, and other specialized equipment used in launch and recovery operations.
  • Maintain Physical Fitness and Security Clearance: As an ALARS, you will be required to maintain physical fitness standards to ensure you can perform your duties effectively. Additionally, you must obtain and maintain a security clearance due to the sensitive nature of the work conducted on aircraft carriers.

It's important to note that the process and specific requirements may vary based on the branch of service and any updates to military policies and regulations. To get the most accurate and up-to-date information, it is recommended to contact a local Navy or Marine Corps recruiter who can guide you through the enlistment process and provide specific details on becoming an ALARS.

As an aircraft launch and recovery specialist, there are several certifications you may need to obtain to perform your duties effectively. These certifications ensure that you have the necessary knowledge and skills to operate the specialized equipment involved in aircraft launch and recovery operations. Here are some of the certifications commonly pursued by ALARS:

  • Catapult Operator Certification: This certification validates your proficiency in operating the catapult systems used to launch aircraft from aircraft carriers. It covers knowledge of catapult operation procedures, safety protocols, and emergency procedures.
  • Arresting Gear Operator Certification: This certification verifies your competence in operating the arresting gear systems responsible for safely stopping landing aircraft on the carrier deck. It encompasses knowledge of arresting gear components, operations, maintenance, and troubleshooting.
  • Visual Landing Aid (VLA) Certification: VLA certification focuses on your ability to interpret and use visual landing aids, such as the Fresnel Lens Optical Landing System (FLOLS), to guide aircraft during landings. It includes understanding visual signals, glide path indications, and communication with pilots.
  • Aircraft Handling Certification: This certification demonstrates your proficiency in aircraft handling procedures, including aircraft movement on the flight deck, proper securing techniques, and adherence to safety protocols while working around aircraft.
  • Quality Assurance Certification: Quality assurance certifications may be required for certain ALARS roles responsible for inspecting, evaluating, and ensuring compliance with safety standards, equipment maintenance, and operational procedures.

These certifications are typically obtained through a combination of classroom instruction, hands-on training, and assessments conducted by qualified instructors and evaluators. The specific process and requirements for obtaining these certifications may vary depending on the branch of service and the organization responsible for administering the training. Certifications may have expiration dates, and periodic requalification or recertification may be required to maintain proficiency and stay up to date with evolving practices and technologies.