Airborne Awesomosity

Don’t Be a Spoil-Sport

The prototype YMC-130H Credible Sport 1, firing its forward-facing retrorockets in a test of its STOL capabilities at Wagner Field in 1980.

Have you ever gone to a soccer match, and as you gazed out over the field to the surrounding stadium, wondered how hard it might be to land a C-130 in there? Okay, I will admit, our American readers are probably like me, and glazed over as soon as I said the word soccer. So for us, let’s do a thought experiment, and instead of the word soccer we’ll say football. Actually, that’s probably a better way to go, since then everyone will be roughly on the same page, as the word soccer probably doesn’t mean much elsewhere anyhow.

Back to the question at hand, landing inside a stadium turns out to be not all that hard, nor is taking off, given the quantity of rockets at hand is high enough. Many off us are probably familiar with JATO rockets used for very short takeoffs (the Blue Angels’ Fat Albert used them in shows up until a couple of years ago), but did you know that similar rockets could be used to stop the plane as well?

In 1980, after the failure of the first Iranian hostage crisis rescue mission (Operation Eagle Claw, previously referenced by yours truly in a post about sand filtration), the US government began planning an alternate rescue mission, focusing on eliminating the perceived weak link in the first mission, the helicopters. Under the Joint Test Directorate, a program named Honey Badger conducted projects to develop and validate a variety of capabilities that would be available to special forces units, and one of the projects within Honey Badger was Credible Sport, a joint venture between the Air Force, Navy, and Lockheed to create a ‘super short take-off and landing’ fixed wing aircraft that would be capable of inserting a resuce team and then extracting the team and hostages.

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