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I watched some youtube shorts of someone playing a simulator and having planes start off from the roofs of tall buildings and trying to takeoff before they crash. For some reason, that creator mentions that the C-130 is the "king" of these challenges. Indeed, assuming he handles them with equal skill, the C130 seems to outperform even fighter jets on some of these cases.

Why is that? Does it have to do with propeller usage?

Video showing the challenge: https://www.youtu.be/shorts/3QNKdHzGPlw

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  • $\begingroup$ What exactly is the challenge? A very short runway, then a cliff, then achieve level flight without hitting the ground at the bottom of the cliff? How big? $\endgroup$ Apr 14 at 19:16
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    $\begingroup$ @CamilleGoudeseune The "challenge" is to take off from the helipad of the Telekom Tower in Kuala Lumpur. This, I believe, is the video in question. $\endgroup$
    – Tevildo
    Apr 15 at 7:31
  • $\begingroup$ @Tevildo quite right, I was just not sure if the rules allow the posting of links, so that's why I didn't mention it $\endgroup$ Apr 15 at 7:39
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    $\begingroup$ A rocket based airplane would be the actual king of this challenge. The Soviet have tried to launch Mig-21 from rocket racks. $\endgroup$ Apr 15 at 12:21
  • $\begingroup$ There are competitions for short takeoff and landing. If I am to believe the Youtube videos titles, 9'5" for landing and 6' for take-off, but I didn't check out what the headwind was. In other words, instead of going off of Telekom Tower, you could probably do it off your home's roof ;-) nationalstol.com $\endgroup$ Apr 15 at 17:05

2 Answers 2

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Fundamentally, the C-130 has a very low stall speed. Mostly because it has a very large wing for the mass of the aircraft. The C-130 is not meant to fly fast, it is meant to fly slow allowing it to operate from unimproved landing sites.

Fighters have a very high stall speed. They are meant to fly very fast.

The takeoff process is all about acceleration. How quickly can you accelerate from zero airspeed to above the stall airspeed. If the stall airspeed is very low, then you have a great advantage.

Propellers are also very good at static thrust. They can have very good acceleration at brake release.

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    $\begingroup$ It may also help that the sim version of the C130 is probably modeled as as flying with no payload. For truly absurd C130 STOL see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Credible_Sport#Development $\endgroup$ Apr 15 at 11:33
  • $\begingroup$ @GremlinWranger, Thanks for making me aware of this, what an amazing project $\endgroup$
    – ROIMaison
    Apr 15 at 12:13
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    $\begingroup$ @ROIMaison, decided to turn my comment into an answer $\endgroup$ Apr 15 at 12:24
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Probably the first point is to be very cautious saying much about real aircraft from observing a simulator, especially outside the normal flight regime where the flight model may be less accurate and physics of things like rolling off an edge fairly benign.

Second as someone who made their own fun with earlier versions PC flight sims I'd assume anybody doing videos of absurd take off and landings would be at least setting a favorable wind conditions if not getting silly. An empty (simulated) business jet can get in and out of all sorts of fun places if given a perfectly steady 80 knot head wind.

In real world terms this sort of shenanigans is the domain of STOL of which the C-130 is an example though by no means 'supreme' at it. Some purpose built designs have normal take off runs that would allow operations across a suitably flat rooftop without even needing a drop off the end. Examples of some real world operations here. See also entire domain of Bush Flying.

In answering the headline question, the supreme propulsion for short take off is rockets, see Operation Credible Sport which attempted to use substantial amounts of rocket thrust to get a C130 into a sports field and then out again fully loaded, and suitably modded into the sim would make LANDING on that rooftop feasible. We also have various rocket launched fighters, that would happily take off from a rooftop and keep going up.


For those who consume janky 10 year old gaming videos, youtube of a not very successful attempt to model and fly credible sport in the game/construction kit Kerbal Space Program.

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  • $\begingroup$ I believe you will be pleased to see that the modeled scenario is based on real life. Luke Czepiela did take off from and land on Burj Al Arab's helipad with a Carbon Cub specifically designed for him. $\endgroup$ Apr 17 at 7:35
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, especially wind around buildings can be very tricky as explained in length in the Red Bull landing video on this strange building's helipad. $\endgroup$ Apr 17 at 10:15

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