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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 55588
Last updated: 20 December 2019
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Type:Silhouette image of generic HAR model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.1
Owner/operator:4 Sqn Royal Air Force (4 Sqn RAF)
Registration: XV794
C/n / msn: 712044
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Hütten, Schleswig-Holstein -   Germany
Phase: En route
Departure airport:RAF Wildenrath
Destination airport:
Suffered a bird strike. The pilot ejected but the aircraft flew on for 40 minutes before eventually crashing at Hütten, Schleswig-Holstein, West Germany

Per eyewitness report from the pilot involved, Air Commodore Peter Taylor AFC:

"At about midday, I got airborne in XV 794, turned south and headed for my first target, flying at 420 knots and 250 feet AGL. All went well until I was preparing to attack my second target. I had just looked into the cockpit to re-arrange my maps, when looking up I saw a formation of three large (they have got much larger over the years!) birds flying straight at me. Instinctively, I pushed forward. I missed two of the birds, but the third went straight into the intake.

There followed an almighty bang, fol­lowed by some rather worrying mechanical noises from the normally robust Pegasus 100 engine. Clearly, it did not like what was going on. I noticed that the RPM was just below idle, the JPT in the middle of its range, height 200 feet and speed about 400 knots, although rapidly declining.

Generally, I was in open country, which was fairly flat with a few houses in my path. I opened and shut the throttle, but nothing much seemed to happen. I broadcast a quick 'MAYDAY' but since I was quite low, I had no great expectation that anyone would hear me. Since I had made up my mind that the engine had suffered what sound­ed like catastrophic damage, I turned my mind to what to do next. (In reali­ty, I said to myself: "I'd better jump out quite soon or I'm going in with the aeroplane!") Then, exactly as you read it in books and newspapers, I saw that I was still close re to houses, and steered the aircraft away from them towards open ground as best I could. Time was now getting short, and as I reached open ground, I saw a small hill ahead with trees at the summit. I pointed the aircraft at the hill, took one last look at the height and speed (100 feet and 200 knots respectively) trimmed the aircraft straight and level, tightened my straps, and pulled the handle.

I recall everything working perfectly in my Martin-Baker Mk.9 seat. I was quickly in my parachute and heading for a field full of cows. Also in the field were some quite large concrete blocks, and remembering a parachuting tech­nique I had learned some 17 years pre­viously, I steered myself away from the blocks, and executed a hard, but per­fectly serviceable, 'side-right' landing.

The whole event had taken less than 60 seconds.

To my astonishment, I saw the air­craft continuing to fly beautifully in a slight climb away from me to the north. I cannot tell you the feelings I had as I watched what now seemed to be a perfectly serviceable aircraft leaving the scene of my ejection. Indeed, the aircraft eventually flew into cloud at about 7,000 feet and disap­peared from sight.

Apparently XV794 had climbed to over 20,000 feet and contin­ued to broadcast on the emergency frequency. Because the aircraft was close to a Warsaw Pact border, a German F-104 was sent to intercept and was, I understand, mildly sur­prised to find a Harrier flying very nicely, but with no-one on board. Shortly after that, the aircraft ran out of fuel and glided into Southern Denmark, where it crashed in an open field, narrowly missing a farmhouse. The Harrier had stayed airborne for 38 minutes after my ejection. Apparently, the reason for XV794's 38-minute solo trip was that the bird which I hit had spread itself quite thin­ly across the engine's compressor. The flames and gases from the Martin-Baker ejection seat dislodged the bird as I left the aircraft. The engine heaved a sigh of relief, drew a deep breath and started working normally again. As it happens, I had trimmed the aircraft rather well and XV794 flew until she ran out of fuel!"



Revision history:

30-Dec-2008 10:56 harro Updated
17-Jul-2010 12:51 harro Updated [Source, Narrative]
02-Aug-2011 00:46 Dr.John Smith Updated [Cn, Operator, Phase, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
11-Apr-2013 13:43 Nepa Updated [Operator]
30-Jun-2013 15:49 Dr. John Smith Updated [Location, Source, Narrative]

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