Edward A. Ritter served aboard the aircraft carrier Intrepid during World War II (1939–1945). He was a pilot with fighter squadron VF-18. As a trained artist, he spent his downtime carving little souvenirs out of wood and painting cartoons of fellow pilots or vignettes of life aboard the ship. His cartoons were well known to the crew members and became great morale boosters. The ship’s photographer made prints of the original cartoons to distribute to the crew. While Ritter was flying in a F6F Hellcat on a mission, Intrepid was hit by a kamikaze, destroying all of his original artwork. Ritter survived the war, and the ship’s photographer gave him copies. Years later, Ritter’s granddaughter donated those copies to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.
A pilot’s first flight from an aircraft carrier is a memorable—and often scary—event. In this cartoon, Ritter drew a pilot and his fighter airplane, an F6F Hellcat, upon their return to the aircraft carrier’s flight deck. The relieved pilot kisses the deck, while the airplane looks exhausted.