Short SC 1 VTOL aircraft XG900, 1957.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The Short SC 1 was the first British fixed-wing vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft. It was designed as a test aircraft for the Rolls-Royce RB 108 vertical lift turbojet. The SC 1 did achieve vertical take-off and transition from vertical to horizontal flight in testing, but was regarded as a somewhat ungainly machine. Two SC 1s were built, but one crashed in 1963, killing the pilot. It was subsequently repaired and they both continued flying until 1967. They were rendered obsolete by the Hawker Siddeley P 1127, the single-engined precursor of the Harrier jump jet, which proved that carrying four extra engines purely for take-off and landing, as was the case with the SC 1, was unnecesary.