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It’s A Bird … It’s A … Fish? Nope, It’s Super Guppy The Ultra Rare NASA Airplane

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For 50 years, NASA’s Super Guppy transport aircraft has carried and delivered over-sized cargo to keep the space program moving.

There are aircraft that are inherently beautiful and graceful. Either on the tarmac or in flight, they elicit admiring glances.

To be quite frank and blunt, the Super Guppy isn’t one of those aircraft.

It’s swollen fuselage, from a side view, does give it a fish-like appearance. But as typically the case in a plane that has an unusual appearance, this plane has been modified for a specific purpose. It transports oversized components for NASA and has been on the job for half a century. From Saturn booster rockets to the Hubble Telescope, the Guppy has swallowed and moved cargo that has helped keep the space program moving.

Early versions were modified from the C-97J Turbo Stratocruiser. Later versions were constructed from scratch, using only the cockpit, wings, tail, and main landing gear. A four-engine turboprop, the Super Guppy also has had engine modifications to improve power and range.

This aircraft also features full frontal … cargo loading. A unique hinged nose swings open 110 degrees to permit easy loading and off-loading.

This particular Super Guppy mission was a four-hour flight between between Ellington Field, Texas and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. The cargo was a Crew Compartment Trainer for the Space Shuttle to be displayed at the National Museum of the United States Air Force.

Written by Wendell Barnhouse

Wendell Barnhouse is a veteran journalist with over 40 years of experience as a writer and an editor. For the last 30 years, he wrote about college sports but he has had an interest and curiosity about aviation since he was in grade school.