Saturday, 20 August 2011
In the early years of the jet age, the US Navy wasn't certain that those new-fangled supersonic jets would ever be able to land on one of their aircraft carriers. The result of this uncertainty was the Sea Dart, an experimental waterborne jet fighter. The Sea Dart took off and landed on retractable skis that tucked into the bottom of the watertight fuselage (you can see the extended skis at the bottom of the picture).
Like most experimental high-performance aircraft, the Sea Dart had its teething troubles and these hadn't been solved before it became clear that it was possible to land fast jets on flat tops and the project was cancelled, although not before the Sea Dart had become the only seaplane ever to break the sound barrier.
Video footage of the Sea Dart here.
Photo from the archives of the San Diego Air and Space Museum.