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Fat Albert on the gas

29 September 2014

Fat Albert on the gas

Fat Albert under JATO — U.S. Navy photo by MAss Com Spec. 3rd Class Andrew Johnson

Fat Albert under JATO — U.S. Navy photo by Mass Comm Spec 3rd Class Andrew Johnson

“Fat Albert” is the C-130 Hercules assigned to the USN’s Blue Angels and here it is seen climbing at an extreme angle enabled by four JATO units on each side of its fuselage. AT one time there was a JATO (Jet Assisted Take Off) option and a RATO (Rocket Assisted Take Off) option — in the present day it is all RATO but they are called JATO, such is the English language!

Obviously, JATO shortens an aircraft’s take-off roll by rapidly accelerating to flying speed. Imagine how even more attentive the pilot must be to an engine failure or JATO bottle failure as sudden onset of asymmetric thrust must be that much more difficult to handle — especially since JATO bottles cannot be switched off once lit!


3 Comments leave one →
  1. 29 September 2014 09:21

    did I read somewhere that the Angels no longer do this maneuver because the rockets themselves were no longer available?

  2. Jonathan Hayes permalink
    29 September 2014 17:58

    Unfortunately, yes. The manufacturer of the rockets no longer exists, and the Blue Angels’ supply was depleted by the end of the 2008 air show season. I was fortunate enough to capture one of the last JATOs, at the 2008 Hunstville (AL) Air Show.

  3. 29 September 2014 20:58

    Jonathan; They sure know how to put on a show, don’t they. They’re so good that, yeah, I miss the jato, but watching the team lift off and “do their thing”_always_ gives me, among millions, goose bumps!…:-)

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