We are shown repetitively how maneuverable Vipers are, able to flip nose to tail in a third of a second, but when they land in the flight pods, they come in at high speeds and try to get ahold of the magnetic deck in what amounts to a controlled crash.

Discounting "combat landings" where time is of the essence, and "emergency" landings where combat damage would prevent safe landing, it would be a lot safer and less damaging to the spaceframe for the viper to approach, flip and use its engine to match momentum with Galactica before setting down. There's no need for the fighter to "maintain speed" to keep flying like an airplane.

I get that the whole battlestar carrier thing is based on naval carriers, and having approaches like that is exciting, it just makes no sense.

  • Given that the show is not a documentary ... I am not sure what the question is here. Are you looking for an 'in universe' explanation of the details of Viper's flying properties? Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 16:02
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    @KorvinStarmast an in universe explanation for why it isn't done would be nice Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 16:19

2 Answers 2


We need to look at this in the context of time, which is VERY precious in this scenario.

To come in for a landing trying to match your speed with the Galactica's hard-deck while she's under hard fire from an increasing number of base ships takes way too much time/fuel.

Doing a "hard-stop, vertical-down" landing where Vipers use their retro-thrusters to stop mid-flight inside the pods, then land vertically on the hard-deck still would take too much time/fuel.

The quickest scenario in this kind of combat situation is to come in and "crash" down onto the hard-deck (combat landings like described in the show), thus making it onboard Galactica quickly enough so she can retract her flight pods and jump with all pilots aboard. If she jumps with the pods extended, serious superstructure damage can occur. If you re-watch some of the episodes, the flight pods start to retract early as pilots are coming in, too, so again.......time. Get in, engage your magnetic clamps, and grab the deck for jump, then on the other end, you can hover again and maneuver in to the elevators for hangar entry.

The source for this little fact on the flight pods can be found here: https://en.battlestarwikiclone.org/wiki/Propulsion_in_the_Re-imagined_Series

The source for the displayed combat landings is here: https://en.battlestarwikiclone.org/wiki/Combat_landing

The rest is logic.


I think you've answered your own question as to why they need combat landings. At other, non-emergency times, we do see controlled and casual Viper landings, such as Apollo's first arrival in the pilot mini-series (although I can't find a suitable clip).

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