Sunday, July 20, 2014

Operation Credible Sport - A Remarkable Rocket-Powered Top-Secret C-130

A dash of "hidden history" you can model. Operation Credible Sport (yeah, a pretty stupid name, but it defined a fascinating plane).

In 1980, with elections closing in fast and the hostages in Iran into their second year of captivity, the USAF under President Carter came up with a rescue plan (this is after the tragic accident at Desert One, the secret air base we built in Iran to stage rescue helicopter flights into Tehran).

The idea was simple. Take a more-or-less standard C-130, and put rocket motors in its nose and tail, making it possible for the plane to land and take off inside of a soccer stadium.

 Houston, we have lift-off ...

 A surviving Operation Credible Sport conversion was on display at Warner Robbins AFB, south of Macon, Georgia. I've heard that the museum had to cut back it's aircraft inventory, so I can't swear it's still there

Big-assed rocket  engines were mounted, and it was secretly tested at what was then Atlanta's Fulton County Stadium (then home of the Braves, the Falcons and a short-lived pro soccer team).

 Janes Defense Weekly illustrated the aircraft with lift engines operating, and with the nose rocket housings visible - "Credible Sport" at play and at rest

The plane would (with gear and flaps down) dive toward the field inside the built-up stadium, flare out, hit the nose rockets, then land literally inside the length of a football field. When the hostages were returned, the plane would fire the tail-end rockets and zoom out of there.
 The nose rocket housings are visible here

The take-off and landing profiles were modeled after the pitch of the stadium (which is pretty steep).

In 1982, I was touring Lockheed-Marietta during an IPMS event in Atlanta, and noticed a forlorn-looking all-black C-130 with some odd bumps. I privately and quietly asked our tour guide, a very senior Air Force non-com about this plane and he told me the whole story, including (he was quite disgusted) President Carter's unwillingness to pull the trigger once the plane proved what it could do. It was all very hush-hush, but since it was more than 18 months after the hostages had been released, it was a secret without a reason to be secret.

Much later, it became public, and you can find photos and info by searching Google: ... channel=sb -

I used the key words: c-130 iran hostage rescue version operation credible sport. Lots of photos, videos of the plane in test operations, and background. This would make a fascinating model kit of a rare and ALMOST historically-significant aircraft.

The "Google images" from that search are here: ... 56&bih=518

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