Morale: The JATO Show Dies Of Old Age


November 6, 2009: One of the last regular users of JATO (Jet Assisted Take Off) rockets is dropping the practice. The U.S. Navy Blue Angels acrobatic team will no longer feature their C-130 (called "Fat Albert", and used to haul around the maintenance personnel and their equipment) doing a quick and fiery takeoff using JATO rockets. This was always a crowd pleaser, partly because you hardly see it anymore.

JATO was first developed in the 1920s, to get gliders into the air. Later, especially during World War II, and a few decades after, JATO was used for getting aircraft off the ground quickly, when a longer air strip was not available. JATO could also be used to help get an overloaded aircraft off the ground. But as engines became more powerful, and aircraft design more efficient, JATO was needed less. The U.S. generally stopped using JATO in the 1970s. And in the last three decades, JATO has faded from the scene. So Fat Albert will no longer be able to do its JATO jump act, simply because those 150 pound JATO rockets (called "bottles" because of their shape) are no longer available.



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