An oddball piece of aerospace research history is up for auction by the General Services Administration. NASA’s Quiet Short-Haul Research Aircraft is being sold as is from the ramp at NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Federal Airfield in California. The high bid is currently $10,001, but the plane was also built on a shoestring using a donated De Havilland Buffalo and engines left over from another research project, according to FLYING Magazine. The GSA says the plane, which has been sitting outside for decades, “has not been maintained to FAA standards” but says it might be made airworthy again.

Back in the 1970s when STOL was seen as an answer to efficient interurban mobility, NASA decided to see just how slow it could get an airplane capable of carrying a commercially viable load of passengers without making a lot of noise. The Buffalo came out of the factory with some pretty impressive STOL characteristics, but NASA leveraged that with four wing-mounted jet engines that blew bleed air across the top of the wing and delayed the boundary layer separating. That reduced the stall speed to about 50 knots. NASA had to use a Harrier as a chase plane for the flight testing. The plane was also tested for potential carrier operations by the Navy.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.


  1. Maybe the Chinese can buy it and give up on their scheme to bribe the Taiwanese Air Force for a Chinook…🤣

  2. I was on Kitty Hawk when the sea trials were being conducted it was a very odd airplane indeed. I believe it flew a much steeper Glide slope like 6 degrees comes to mind. It looks like it was flared a bit prior to touchdown But it might have been the pitch change if the power is pulled back to idle.
    I have 399 traps on the KH.

  3. Interesting to watch! It harks back to the days when NASA was leaner and faster–“take a collection of airframes and engines nobody else wanted–and create a demonstrator aircraft capable of using almost any General Aviation airfield–or even an aircraft carrier at sea–WITHOUT a catapault or arresting gear!” (“Look, Ma–NO HOOK!”). Done on a shoestring budget, and within months–not years. Three pilots, and a handful of engineers.

    It would have been even better if the video included the weight of the aircraft, any payload figures–cruise speed, etc. for context. It’s one thing to test a prototype–but to be useful, needs more information. Was it tested with simulated payload? Range? Was it pressurized (important if it was being evaluated as a commuter aircraft). Engine-out and de-ice capabilities? Stall speed? Takeoff and landing distances as configured? It would have been interesting to compare the performance with the original Buffalo–or even the DH Dash 7, which WAS a certified STOL commuter turboprop aircraft.

      • V-22. as in annual victims in a good year

        Sadly along with scrapping the F-14s the Navy also retired the S-3s which had great COD capability, sub hunter, tanker, and one bagged an Iraqi gunboat that tried to hide under an oil platform…….

  4. It is a shame that NASA does not want to keep such aircraft for future generations to see what they do. But I suppose they need the money to pay millions to get each astronaut up to the ISS for their ride.

  5. According to “Flying” magazines’s online presence:

    The performance of the QSRA was impressive—65-knot approach speeds were standard, and low-speed flight was demonstrated down to only 50 knots. This is particularly notable as the aircraft’s maximum takeoff weight was 60,000 pounds—a full 7,000 pounds heavier than a fully-loaded, 50-passenger CRJ200 regional airliner.

    Maximum-performance takeoffs resulted in ground rolls of 664 feet, and STOL landings produced ground rolls of only 550 feet. But the ability to utilize shorter runways wasn’t the only goal. In order to reduce the noise footprint during approaches and departures to and from urban airports in densely-populated cities, the team wanted to evaluate the feasibility of utilizing a steep, 7.5 degree approach path as opposed to the standard 3 degree glideslope.

    As these tests were conducted, the team discovered that such approaches could reduce the aircraft’s noise footprint by 80 to 90 percent. This steep glideslope, they noted, would place the aircraft more than twice as high as a conventional passenger jet at any point along the approach. NASA even suggested touching down at the runway midpoint or performing spiraling descents directly above the airport to confine the noise footprint to that of the airport itself and thus not affect adjacent communities. It is unclear whether the team considered the effect such approaches might have on the passengers aboard.

  6. Boeing won the hardware contract and built the airplane. It was delivered ahead of schedule and within budget. Too bad those days are long gone…..

  7. The engine mounting location looks a LOT like the Boeing YC-14 STOL transport entrant tested at Edwards AFB during the same time frame. I don’t remember this airplane, however.