The world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier couldn't visit New Zealand because we're nuclear-free. But that hasn't stopped a Kiwi author from writing the US vessel's history.
Dave McKay was always fascinated by the USS Enterprise, which has starred in a movie as well as conflicts in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
She's called the Big E, and for more than half a century the nuclear-powered USS Enterprise sailed the world protecting America's interests. The carrier launched the first strikes against the Taliban after 9/11, and she also featured in the Hollywood epic Top Gun.
Now her history's been written by a Kiwi. Dr McKay admits he's loved the Big E from the first day he got aboard her in the States, simply by phoning the Navy and asking to look around.
"I sat on the dock in the bay as you do, eating a hamburger looking at the bow, and I thought I've got to write about this ship."
And write he did. Eighteen years of research has led to one of New Zealand's biggest books – a 2.5kg, 700-page epic complete with Dr McKay's own photos.
What fun he had along the way. The Kiwi doctor got to live the dream, including helicopter rides, catapult launches and arrested landings.
"You've got a two-second deceleration, you're pinned into your harness, it feels like all your innards are going to come out. Two seconds you go from 150 to zero. When you're inside the plane it feels like you've hit a wall."
When he wanted to get back on the vessel while she was on active duty in the Arabian Gulf in the late '90s, Dr McKay simply got on the phone again.
"Again I just rang some people up. I rang up Washington Pentagon and rang up central command in Bahrain. They said 'sure, come over if you can get out here, we'll get you out to the boat'."
His history's been published in nuclear-free New Zealand, a country the Big E could never berth in.
"It was a real flagship queen of the seas in her day, a real showboat," says Dr McKay.The vessel's ended active service, her memory kept alive by a book published in little old nuclear-free New Zealand.
source: newshub archive