Photo: Royal Navy’s Sea Harrier “flies” again

Photo: Royal Navy

A Royal Navy Sea Harrier short take-off and vertical landing jet fighter made one last flight in preparation for its final mission.

While it did not fly under its own power, it was still quite a sight seeing the aircraft slung beneath an RAF Chinook.

A specialist team of RAF and RN engineers, plus the legendary wocca-wocca were called in to help move this jump jet through the skies of Filton in Bristol for a new aviation museum.

The famous fighter is one of the key exhibits at the Aerospace Bristol museum at the former Battle of Britain airfield at Filton.

That museum is housed in a hangar on the opposite side of the site from where the Sea Harrier was located – with the airfield and a railway line in the way and no road bridge wide enough to accommodate the jet.

So the military’s specialist aircraft movers were called: the RAF Joint Air Delivery Test and Evaluation Unit, or JADTEU, based at Brize Norton. The team – mostly RAF, but with some RN personnel – are experts in transporting unusual loads by air.

And for heavy lift precision, there’s nothing better than a Chinook of 27 Sqn at RAF Odiham.

Once the JADTEU experts had sorted out the straps and secured the interceptor for the lift, the Chinook obliged and ferried the six-tonne Harrier – which was built in 1985 and features 800 NAS markings on its port side, 801 NAS on the starboard – around half a mile.

The Sea Harrier’s new home is a 100-year-old Grade 2 listed hangar, where it shares floorspace with the last Concorde to be built and to fly.

Both will be used to celebrate Bristol’s aviation history in the £19m new museum which opens this summer: the Harrier was powered by a Bristol Siddeley-designed engine, while the supersonic airliner was designed and built at Filton.

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