There’s a reason that pilots in the Navy are expected to be the best in the world: they have to be able to take off and land on aircraft carriers. It’s described as having to land on a “postage stamp” in the middle of the ocean, and that’s hard enough to do even in good conditions. In bad conditions, it can be downright dangerous.
World War Wings unearthed this amazing video from 1971. A Grumman S-2 tracker was attempting to take off from the USS Ticonderoga, an Essex-class carrier built during World War II. The pilot was to fly to Japan from the Philippines. The seas were rough, so extra precautions were taken, but it didn’t matter: just as the pilot took off, a giant wave came out of nowhere and crashed right into the plane. Incredibly, the plane kept flying. The pilot reported hearing some sputtering, but the engines didn’t shut down. The only issue to be found later was that there was some water in the cockpit. It’s an amazing video that also shows a miracle in action — the miracle being that the pilot was able to survive.