For anyone curious what the numbers on the HUD are:
On the upper left in the box is the indicated airspeed in knots.
Up top is the heading of the plane. To the right in the box is the radar altimeter, which gives height above the surface in feet – it drops significantly as soon as the plane is over the ship.
Above that number is its vertical velocity, which is the feet per minute the aircraft is descending at. At touchdown, it reaches over 1400 fpm!
At the bottom left is the current Gs the aircraft is at, and below that is the max Gs the aircraft felt on this flight, which means 6.9Gs were pulled by the pilot at some point.
Also, at the bottom with the moving cross-like bars is the ICLS or Instrument Carrier Landing System. It’s basically like the ILS used by other aircraft (including airlines) for precision approaches.
The vertical bar tells you how far you are off course from centerline and the horizontal bar tells you whether you are above or below glideslope (the angle in space at which the plane will be flying to the deck).
The circle with the three “spokes” coming out of it is the velocity vector, which tells the pilot where the plane will be flying towards. To the left of that is a “E” looking bracket – that tells the pilot whether the plane’s Angle of Attack (AOA) is on-speed, fast, or slow.
The pilot wants to keep it in the middle of that E bracket to stay on-speed which is the correct angle at which the plane needs to hit the deck to snag the arresting wire, and also to stay safe as high AOAs put the plane closer to a stall which is dangerous when slow and if low behind the boat.