Use Data to Improve Medical Care at Seal (CVA-59) began air operations against North Vietnam. In the days before she arrived on Yankee Station, several accidents had occurred on her flight deck, including the unintended ignition of a large flare and the maiming of a Sailor run over by a plane. On 28 July another Sailor was lost overboard; a day later, the accidental firing of a Zuni rocket ignited the catastrophe that killed 134 and nearly destroyed the ship.1 Before the war ended, other major aviation accidents and fires would occur on board the USS Enterprise (CVN-65), Hancock (CV-19), and Oriskany (CV-34).2
Naval aviation has come a long way since then. Thanks to a revolution in safety and quality management, our flight decks are now the world’s showcase of safe operations under hazardous conditions. During a cruise on the USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7), where I served as senior medical officer in 2003–5, more than 11,000 helicopter takeoffs and landings were conducted without serious mishap, and not a single Sailor was lost.