This photo was taken during the Dependents Day Cruise on board the USS America in 1988. The pilot, Executive Officer (XO) of VF-33 Starfighters Dale "Snort" Snodgrass, tells the following story about the epic pass:
"It's not risky at all with practice… It was my opening pass to a Tomcat tactical demonstration at sea. I started from the starboard rear quarter of the ship, at or slightly below flight deck level. Airspeed was at about 250 knots with the wings swept forward. I selected afterburner at about ½ miles behind and the aircraft accelerated to about 325-330 knots. As I approached the ship, I rolled into an 85 degree angle of bank and did a 2-3 g turn, finishing about 10 – 20 degrees off of the ship's axis. It was a very dramatic and, in my opinion, a very cool way to start a carrier demo. The photo was taken by an Aviation Bosun's Mate (by an ABE3 who was the petty officer of third class Sean E. Dunn that was in charge in Launching & Recovering Equipment) who worked the flight deck on the USS America. Just as an aside…the individual with his arms behind his back [in the second photo] is Admiral Jay Johnson" who became the Chief of Naval Operations for the Navy."
The top image was taken during the cruise, the second was taken during a rehearsal for the demonstration. Read more about this dramatic demonstration, and the pilot who performed it, at The Aviationist.