Landing a 4 engine STOL onto a super carrier was a huge achievement. But I don’t think this was the most dangerous carrier landing. Dunning’s landings on HMS Furious in 1917 were more challenging. Eric Brown’s landing of a twin engined Mosquito onto a tiny escort carrier was also more dangerous. But if the Hurcules landing had gone wrong, there would have been an order of magnitude more carnage.
The guy who landed the C-130 on the Forrestal was actually an F-4 Phantom pilot. It was decided that it would be easier to teach a Phantom pilot with lots of carrier trap experience to fly a Herky bird than to teach a Herky Bird pilot with no carrier experience to trap on an aircraft carrier!
Video’s never do justice to the size of an aircraft carrier. Not until you have been on the flight deck during flight ops, can you truly appreciated them. I have had the honor of serving on board the U.S.S. America for a couple years. The first traps that I witnessed, I was scared to death. Noise, wind, jet blasts and concussion of the aircraft hitting the deck at full throttle can never be expressed in words.
They also landed U-2 spy planes on carriers as an experiment to test if recovery was possible. These tests to recover the Hercules were successful but it was decided not to use this as a recovery method.
I was stationed in Hong Kong from June 68 to November 70. During that time I think 69 USS Coral Sea anchored off the Island, so some of us went out by boat to gaze in awe. She had a compliment of 5,000 & there were 2 brothers on board for 2 years who had never bumped into each other. I had never seen anything like it, massive doesn’t do it credit. I really was so very impressed & in awe of this amazing feat of engineering, an experience I will never forget.