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Skills Of The Day: C-130 Carrier Operations

Earlier in the days of aircraft carriers, they were exploring possibilities for carrier-based naval operations.  Part of the success of such long-term operations depended on how easily ships could be resupplied.  At this point, carriers had been outfitted with steam catapults and arrestor cables, making it easier to launch and land high-speed jets that typically needed a much longer runway.  However, this sort of system wouldn’t work so well for larger transport aircraft.  As heavy as they are, they would have lots more inertia, and catapults and arresting gear would likely break the plane.

In the 1960s, the US Navy conducted some trials on the USS Forrestal – the first-ever “supercarrier” the United States built.  These trials involved landing and launching C-130 Hercules cargo planes from the carrier deck while at sea – without the catapults or arresting gear.  The trials were a success, working up to the plane carrying 30,000 lbs. of payload.  I’m not a pilot, but I’m still impressed they could land something that big and heavy in that short a distance without any stop or takeoff assistance.

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