Remember all those times as a kid when your mom yelled at you for playing too many video games instead of doing homework? “Well, look at me now, ma!”
In a crowning achievement for veteran gamers and tech nerds everywhere, Navy crew members remotely landed a 40,000-pound jet on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier using an ATARI joystick — no, not that kind, but close.
The ATARI, or aircraft terminal approach remote inceptor, was successfully demonstrated for the first time ever last week aboard the carrier Abraham Lincoln when crew members used the video game-like system to control an F/A-18 during a touch-and-go, a Navy release said.
“You’re effectively using little joystick controllers ... and it’s almost like you’re playing a video game,” said Buddy Denham, a senior engineer at NAVAIR and creator of ATARI.
Created at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in 2016, ATARI allows landing signal officers, or LSOs, to take control of an aircraft and make necessary corrections during recovery operations from up to five miles away, the release said.
In 2017, the innovation was added to the F/A-18, but until last week, it had only been tested on land.
“There was some nervousness because the sea state was so bad,” said Lt. John Marino, a pilot from the Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23, and the first pilot to land on a flight deck using the new technology. “Back on the airfield, testing was benign.”
“The deck was pitching significantly and yawing and rolling,” said Denham. “It was particularly difficult to land that day, and we showed it’s possible to use this system even when the conditions aren’t ideal.”
Jon Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.