Red Arrows Leader remembers the moment he ejected after a crash landing in a Harrier

Red Arrows Leader remembers the moment he ejected after a crash landing in a Harrier

By Dario Leone
May 16 2019
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“The 10 year challenge? 14 May ’09 pivotal moment in my flying career. Have made no secret of involvement in terrifying incident in KAF,” Martin Pert, Red Arrows Leader.

Martin Pert, current “Red 1”, the team Leader of the UK’s Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team Red Arrows, posted the following:

“The 10 year challenge? 14 May ’09 pivotal moment in my flying career. Have made no secret of involvement in terrifying incident in KAF. Thanks to MB_EjectEject I lived to tell the tale. Challenge was getting back in the cockpit. So so lucky to continue a fulfilling flying career.”

As reported by Scramble Facebook News Magazine, Martin and its Harrier (serial ZG478/68) were deployed to Kandahar (Afghanistan) in 2009. The duo made a combat sortie over the country and upon its return to the airfield, air traffic control (ATC) requested a ten minutes delay in the landing due to a busy circuit. When cleared to land ATC requested an expedite landing and runway clearance due to heavy traffic. The wingman of Martin landed first due to low fuel. During its landing, the wingman received a hostile missile alert and released flares. Martin followed in the tense environment.

Red Arrows Leader remembers the moment he ejected after a crash landing in a Harrier

His turn to finals was a little short and 6,500ft higher than normal. Throughout the approach the rate of descent was too high and a so-called ‘Hover Stop’ was selected in an attempt to correct this. At 180ft full power was selected but the tail struck the ground 30ft from the threshold. The outriggers and main undercarriage collapsed as did the nose wheel when the aircraft pitched forward. The under wing stores (bombs, rockets, recce pod, targeting pod and drop tanks) caught fire as it slid along the runway for some 4,000ft. Martin decided to eject his Harrier when the fire surrounded the cockpit as well as the live ammunition on board and the realistic chance of rolling over. He did that during the skid, to avoid landing in or too nearby the burning aircraft.

The following video captures Pert’s “10 year challenge.”


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Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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