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Why the hell are these F-18 pilots taking off from public roads?

Watch these F-18 pilots training to take off and land on public roads, a skill they used to practice more often back in the Cold War days, when they had to be ready in case the Soviet Union decided to bomb their airfields during an invasion.

Taking off and landing on public roads used to be a common thing back in the early days of aviation. The most extreme case is probably the German autobahns. Their highways were built by the Nazis specifically with airplane operations in mind, to use them as auxiliary airfields for their fighters. After the war ended—and the Cold War begun—NATO air forces kept training to use these highways, as you can see in these videos:

Even a large cargo plane like a C-160 can use these long strips:

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For the same reason, several times a year I drive my Nissan LEAF down the main runway at the local airport. It drives the traffic controllers crazy, but I want to be ready for an emergency if the highways become unavailable.