• SEATS UPRIGHT, TRAY TABLES LOCKED: The Monitor's Robert Marquand says he knew aircraft carriers were big. But it wasn't till he and several other journalists visited the USS Carl Vinson (page 9), which is participating in US-South Korean exercises, that he felt the full impact of these "floating cities."
At the "vulture's nest" - the 50-yard-line seats, says Bob - he watched as planes landed every 60 seconds, aiming to catch the third "engaging wire" that halts the plane. One plane missed; the group was later told it was only practicing what to do (take off again).
Down on the flight deck, things got more intense. "It's four acres of flat space with the ocean just beyond - and no railings," says Bob. "We couldn't move five inches left or right without permission."
His departure gave him the greatest appreciation for what pilots confront. "We were on a C-2 Greyhound, a mini-cargo plane that is the main logistical supply line for the carrier. The landing wasn't epic, but the G-forces are pretty strong on takeoff. We went from zero to 300 m.p.h. in less than four seconds. The plane has no windows, so you have no idea what's going on. Basically, a crew member waves his hands to warn you to brace yourself."
• AUSTRALIAN VIEWS SHIFT: A Newspoll survey published this week shows that the percentage of Australians supporting the war in Iraq has now passed those opposing it. The poll showed support for military action to disarm Saddam Hussein had risen to 50 percent, up from 45 percent just before the war began, while opposition fell from 47 percent to 42 percent.
Australia has deployed about 2,000 military personnel to the Gulf including 150 special forces, now involved in fighting deep inside Iraq, as well as fighter jets and warships.
Deputy world editor