How not to land a Harrier
Here is a great video of a British Harrier jet coming into Kandahar a bit oddly. Not clear why, but the pilot comes in with the nose high, so first the tail gets knocked off, and then the nose, and then the whole thing burns. He suffered only minor injuries, the article says. The plane ...
Here is a great video of a British Harrier jet coming into Kandahar a bit oddly. Not clear why, but the pilot comes in with the nose high, so first the tail gets knocked off, and then the nose, and then the whole thing burns. He suffered only minor injuries, the article says. The plane was a total loss. On the tape, as with teenage sex, most of the fun happens in the first 40 seconds.
My CNAS colleague Herb Carmen, himself a carrier pilot, says that judging just by watching the tape that the Harrier jockey did pretty well, considering:
I can’t speak credibly to the Harrier, since I’ve never flown one; but it looks like excessive speed and sink rate on the approach. Perhaps too hot, too heavy? Again, I don’t understand how or why those things fly. Here’s what I’d say though:
- It looks like he intended to ride the jet to a stop, perhaps not knowing he was being chased by a fireball. Why ride it to a stop instead of ejecting? Because he’s on the deck and an ejection might not have given him enough altitude to get a swing in the chute before he impacted the ground (again). He was probably making an accurate time-critical risk calculation as he skidded down the deck.
- That risk calculus obviously changed. He makes an immediate decision to eject once the fireball catches up to the cockpit. A+ for mission analysis. Fortunately, he gets a good chute, a good swing and slows down a bit before he hits the deck. I don’t know who designed and manufactured the seat, but I can imagine that pilot would have offered them at least a free round.
- He is fortunate that he even had the option to eject, and he obviously made the right call to trust the seat. If he would have ridden out the skid, it’s unlikely he would have survived.
- I believe the “book time” response for Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting response is three minutes to any point on the runway. They make it within that window, but as you can see those two minutes plus would seem excruciatingly long to a pilot in extremis.
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