The pilot was Capt Dale "Snort" Snodgrass, at the time Executive Officer of VF-33 with more than 4,800 hours in the F-14, currently Director of Congression- al Liasion, US House of Representatives.
The photo from the USS America in the summer of 1989 is widely seen, and most folks think it was either an edited photo, a risky maneuver, or a crash in progress. However, Snodgrass explained: "It's not risky at all with practice. It was my opening pass in a Tomcat tactical demonstration at sea. I started from the starboard rear quarter of the carrier, slightly below flight deck level. Airspeed was about 270 kts with the wings swept forward. I selected afterburner at about a half-mile out, and the aircraft accelerated to about 315 kts. As I approached the fantail, I rolled into an 85-degree bank and did a hard 5-6G turn, finishing about 10-20 degrees off of the boat's axis. Microseconds after this photo was taken, after rolling wings-level at an altitude slightly above the flight deck, I pulled vertical with a quarter-roll to the left, ending with an Immelman roll-out 90 degrees and continued with the remainder of the demo. It was a dramatic and, in my opinion, a very cool way to start a carrier demo as first performed by a great fighter pilot, Ed "Hunack" Andrews, who commanded VF-84 in 1980-1988.
The photo was taken by a Petty Officer who worked the flight deck. The individual with his arms behind his back was Admiral Jay Johnson, immediate past Chief of Naval Operations for the USN."