“My First Cat Shot”
I got my wings in September 1949 and was assigned to VF-73 at Quonset Point flying F8F Bearcats. I had gone through Advanced at Corpus in F8F's so I knew it was one hot 'bird.' In January '50 we went aboard the FDR for a cruise down to Gitmo. One morning as we walked out on the flight deck to man our planes, I noticed that mine was spotted so far forward I'd probably get my first cat shot. Sure enough, they taxied me up to the catapult. I knew the drill because we'd been told how to do it at least a dozen times. Bring the engine up to full power, put the stick in neutral and support your elbow in your gut. When you were all ready, take your hand off the throttle, cross your chest and immediately put it back on the throttle … and off you go!
I almost got it right! I took my hand off the stick instead … got it back on just as I was shot off. I pulled the stick right back in my lap and when I hit the end of the catapult, I went straight up. As soon as I could, I pushed over to level flight. I WAS AT 500 FEET! I looked down and I was right over the carrier. I mean that plane had an ENGINEI
As I was exiting the plane after landing back aboard, I heard, "Midshipman Pollard report to the bridge immediately." When I got up there, the Captain made it clear that NOBODY was going to make a HOT takeoff from his ship and get away with it. Somehow I convinced him I didn't know what I was doing and would never do THAT again.
p.s. The guys said it was the hottest take-off from a carrier they'd ever seen!