This impressive maneuver took place last Friday at the Naval Air Station in Patuxtent River, Maryland.

The daredevil aircraft is actually a specialized version of the F-35 Lightning II fighter, the STOVL (short take-off and vertical landing), and as you can see, it can do tricks and neat things that Jean-Claude Killy did in triplicate back in the Sixties.

This method, known crudely as the “ski jump method”, has been used by the Brits for more than 30 years. It’s an alternative to catapult-style takeoffs the United States generally uses to launch their billion-dollar jets skyward from a large boat floating in a much larger pond.

According to the UK Ministry of Defense, this is how it works:

The shorter UK carriers feature an upward-sloped ramp at the bow of the ship. Curved at its leading edge, a ski-jump ramp simultaneously launches aircraft upward and forward, allowing aircraft to take off with more weight and less end-speed than required for an unassisted horizontal launch aboard U.S. aircraft carriers.

Air & Space