This video taken 26 years ago today shows why low level airdrop can be extremely dangerous

Airdrops from military cargo planes are not always performed at high altitude, as the one showed in the spectacular video posted a few days ago.

LAPES (Low Altitude Parachute Extraction System) enables cargo aircraft to quickly deploy large cargo without the need to land and take off, which would expose the plane to enemy fire. The technique is also used to deliver those heavy loads that could not be delivered from high altitude with a direct parachute descent.

However, since LAPS involves a drop sequence at low altitude it implies a heightened risk as there is little margin for pilot error.

As the following video shows.

It was taken on Jul. 1, 1987, 26 years today, when a U.S. C-130E crashed while performing a LAPES demo at the Sicily Drop Zone, on Ft. Bragg during a Capabilities exercise (CAPEX).

Pilot pulled up too late and after deploying M551 Sheridan tank, hit treeline, burned, killing three on board, one soldier on the ground, and injuring two crew.

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About David Cenciotti 3821 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.