Bench Replaces Harrier Nose Gear
A little ingenuity and precision borne of skilled repetition combined to save the Marines a hefty repair bill or worse on June 7. Marine Harrier pilot Capt. William Mahoney had a landing gear problem shortly after takeoff on a routine flight from the USS Bataan. The airplane's nose gear wouldn't deploy and because of the landing profile of the Harrier the nose, with its radar and other gear, would likely have been damaged, not to mention the risk to the pilot. Ground crews put a padded bench on the landing spot always used to recover the Harriers and cleared the deck to let Mahoney demonstrate how training and skill can MacGyver a successful outcome to a dangerous situation.
In the accompanying video, Mahoney explains how the standardized landing procedure aboard the Bataan contributed to the safe landing. He said the aircraft always land on the same spot on the deck and nailing the landing is a matter of pride among pilots. Mahoney said he never saw the bench and just relied on his training and the precision landing protocol as he settled the jet over the deck. When everything lined up he cut the power and the aircraft dropped six feet with the nose landing squarely on the bench, undamaged.