The imminent retirement of the Harrier had me looking through my old photos for shots of Harriers past. I am fortunate to have not only have my photos, but the slide collection of my (late) good friend David Goodall to call on. My apologies for the quality of some of the images, my ability with the camera and scanner is entirely to blame.
To begin at (almost) the beginning we have the Hawker P.1127
1. XP831 at The Science Museum after many years on display in the Camm hall at the RAF Museum, Hendon.
2. XP984 at RIAT 2003 RAF Fairford in the 100 Years of Aviation display, this is normally to be found at the Brooklands Museum at Weybridge.
As part of the retirement “celebrations” for the Harrier two aircraft have been painted with commemorative tails. Having deployed to Ark Royal a few days before they were due back on the 24th. A trip to Cottesmore (my last) was in order.
First launch of the day.
We can argue until were are blue in the face about the rights and wrongs about the decision to retire the Harrier fleet. What we cannot change, sadly, is the fact its going to happen.
So then, on the 2nd of Novermeber it was off to sunny(ish) Rutland then for a day at RAF Cottesmore “on the fence”. It would appear that the squadrons are attempting to “fly the ass off” the remaining aircraft, with multiple approaches and hover landings being the order of the day.
As soon as the SDSR was announced after the last Election I had a feeling the Harriers days were numbered. The savings mooted in the Press arent achieved by simple efficiencies they are, sadly, only possible by cutting capabilities entirely. This is not to say I agree with the decision, but we are where we are.
With this in mind, when the Harrier display was announced for RIAT I determined to record as much of it as I could. For posterity of nothing else, over the years I have shot many a Harrier display, but this was to be my last.
The display was flown by a specially marked 4 Sqn aircraft.