The interesting photo in this post was taken in 1982 at Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River, Md. and shows the left-side view of an F-14A Tomcat fighter aircraft taking off from a ramp, raised nine degrees, during “ski-jump” feasibility tests.
The ski-jump tests, which involved also the T-2, F/A-18, and AV-8 Harrier, were conducted in an effort to reduce the length of the carrier flight deck needed for an aircraft to become airborne—without the aid of a catapult.
According to The Patuxent River Naval Air Museum, flight tests showed that the basic theory was sound: all aircraft tested took off in significantly shorter distances than they could from flat decks. But except for the AV-8 Harrier, none of these aircraft ever flew from ski-jump-equipped carriers. In fact the upward push of the ski-jump means that aircraft structures need to be stronger to bear the extra launch loads. This could lead to aircraft that “weigh—and cost—more.”
Actually the F-14 flew 28 times from a ski-jump but never achieved maximum take-off capability because of single-engine operating concerns.
Source: U.S. Navy; Photo credit: PH3 Ron Vest / U.S. Navy
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