Dropping a Fully-Loaded Super Hornet 20 Feet

Aircraft designed to operate from the decks of seagoing aircraft carriers need to have extremely resilient landing gear, allowing them to withstand the effects of carrier landings, which tend to be incredibly rough. Often referred to as a “controlled crash”, these landings basically involve the plane touching down on the angled deck of the ship while simultaneously snagging one of a set of thick cables strung across said deck, known as arresting gear. Touching down, however, is putting it mildly. The landing is considerably more accurately described as the aircraft (possibly laden with external stores, and still containing fuel) slamming down on the deck, before carrying forward, straining against the wires.

So the Navy (and Marine Corps) makes sure that each aircraft they acquire for shipboard service comes with strengthened landing gear that can take a high number of harsh landings without much risk of failure. Should the gear collapse, that puts everybody on the flight deck, including other aircraft, at serious risk. The video below comes, presumably, from McDonnell Douglas, showing gear drop tests conducted on the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. The Hornet, apparently fully loaded with external stores, is dropped vertically from a height of 20 feet with the wheels spinning, simulating a very rough landing. Watch how the gear takes the brunt of the impact and still keeps the aircraft upright. For reference, the Super Hornet weighs around 47,000 lbs when in fighter configuration.


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