The Harrier

By sheer coincidence Meg was talking about an advert she’d seen for BAE Systems who said that the Harrier had made the world a safer place, and although I agree with her that the semantics of the advert are wrong, it’s the people that matter – it did start me thinking.

You see I’ve grown up around this aircraft, this aircraft has had an enormous influence on my life, my fathers been on Harrier squadrons since before I was born, and they’re the reason that I’m lucky enough to be so well travelled. When I was stupendously young we moved to Germany following the Harrier GR1 and GR3 with 3sqn to RAF Gütersloh, where Dad was promptly put on a ship and sent to the Falklands for an eternity to fight for the freedom of what is basically a hamlet on an island a million miles away from anywhere, when he eventually came back I was walking, talking, and my days of being a baby were gone. As the years progressed this aircraft was the symbol of my class at school, where all the classes we named after aircraft at the nearby base (so you had harriers 2H, chinooks 2C, pumas 2P and Rapier [which are missiles] 2R). My cub scouts were part of the squadron, we even carried the emblem of the harrier squadron on our uniforms, and it was the same at scouts…

In my time I’ve washed them, sat in them, been treated like royalty at air shows being able to get in them ahead of the queue, wherever I look in my past this aircraft is sitting smiling at me, they’re the cuddly little aircraft that bows at you, but they do have a darker side, the friends of the family killed in them when they crash, the people’s marriages that have broken up because the husband follows the aircraft around the world, it’s amazing what being in a forces family actually puts on a family in terms of stress. My Dad’s followed these aircraft from the Falklands to Belize, America, Canada, Norway, Italy, Kosovo, and most recently on the aircraft carriers around the world, but no matter how much this aircraft has taken my Dad away I still have a great soft spot for it, and a great pride that it’s my Dad who’s kept this aircraft going, who’s looked after the troops who service it, and works with the people that fly them… I’ve never considered myself a “forces brat” as so many force’s kids seem to jokingly call themselves, I just consider myself to be very lucky to have seen two decades of enormous change in the world through following this little plane around the globe.

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