Earlier this month, a Marine Corps pilot named William Mahoney was trying to land a Harrier jet on an aircraft carrier . . . those are the planes that can land straight down, like a helicopter. But his front landing gear wouldn't come down.
So to keep the nose from hitting the deck, they put a big padded platform down to catch it. It's specifically designed for that exact situation. (Search for "AV-8B No Gear Landing on USS Bataan." He touches down at 2:01.)