Aircraft Launch and Recovery Specialist ... (Military - Enlisted)  What They Do

Just the Facts


Aircraft launch and recovery specialists ensure the safety of aircraft as they launch from and return to aircraft carriers. They perform this critical work by operating and maintaining catapults, arresting gear, and other equipment used in aircraft carrier takeoff and landing operations.

This career is part of the Government and Public Administration cluster National Security pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Responsible for the safe and expeditious movement of aircraft on flight decks, hangar decks, and ashore which includes the installation and removal of chocks, tie downs, and tow bars
  • Directs the movement and spotting of aircraft ashore and afloat
  • Utilizes visual hand and light signals required in landing recovery operations
  • Follows published safety regulations relative to working on and near a runway and knows the hazardous zones
  • Prepares aircraft recovery equipment for storage and shipment
  • Coordinates recovery operations with other airfield operations
  • Performs crash rescue, firefighting, crash removal, and damage control duties
  • Operates, inspects, and maintains emergency arresting gear systems for high performance military aircraft
  • Installs and performs preventive maintenance on visual landing aids
  • Operates pressurized hydraulic and pneumatic equipment utilizing both basic and precision tools

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 10 lbs., sometimes up to 20 lbs. You might do a lot of walking or standing, or you might sit but use your arms and legs to control machines, equipment or tools.
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Exposure to pollutants, gases, dust, fumes, odors, poor ventilation, etc.
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Work in this occupation requires being outside most of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Identifying color and seeing differences in color, including shades and brightness
  • Moving the arms, legs and torso together when the whole body is in motion
  • Bending, stretching, twisting, or reaching
  • Seeing clearly at a distance

Work Hours and Travel

  • Rotating shift work
  • Weekend work