A 1955 animation about aircraft carriers explains the geometry problem, and the solution.
In 1919, Admiral William Benson tried to eliminate the Navy’s Aviation Division. He claimed he could not “conceive of any use the fleet will ever have for aviation”. By the end of the war, engagements like the Battle of the East China Sea were showing American naval air superiority.
Such success bled into the 50s, with jets becoming increasingly common aircraft carriers. But as carriers became more widely and commonly used, problems arose. What was the best way to get jets on and off the carriers quickly and efficiently arrange things to maximise both carrying capacity and runway space.
This U.S. Navy training film shows the solution that the Navy came up with, which is still in use today: angular runways.
U.S. Navy Angled Deck Aircraft Carriers, an Educational Documentary from 1955:
The angled design was invented by Rear Admiral Dennis Cambell. An officer of the British Royal Navy, Campbell presented it to America in 1951. He offered a few distinct advantages over other options. In the case of an aborted landing, and angled runway gave returning planes plenty of room and open air to speed up and take off again. Better yet, this angled design kept carriers from having to sacrifice any on-deck parking space for planes not currently in flight.
It’s a simple bit of geometry, but with big implications, ones that carry forward to the modern day.
From: PM USA