The handover ceremony of the first AV-8A at Dunsfold on January 6, 1971, at which AV-8A BuNo 158385 displayed briefly before an engine surge forced it to retire for the day.
Fourth production AV-8A BuNo 158387 of VMA-513 is demonstrated by Capt Arthur Hall, a USAF pilot on exchange with the USMC, at Beaufort, South Carolina, in the spring of 1971. The unit’s operations were based at “Hoot’s Halfacre ”, the first half of the name deriving from VMA-513's owl insignia, the second from the space occupied by the squadron's hangar.
An AV-8A Harrier pilot of US Marine Corps unit VMA-542 prepares for a mission.
America’s first encounter with the Harrier was during the Daily Mail Transatlantic Air Race, held to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Alcock and Brown’s flight in 1919. Here XV741 alights at the corner of FDR Drive and East 26th Street in New York City after a 6hr 11 min flight from London’s St Pancras station on May 5, 1969.
Harrier XV742 was used extensively by USMC pilots during the early days of the AV-8A procurement process and is seen here in Marine Corps markings carrying an 8,000 lb bomb load during trials. It was given the civil registration G-VSTO in 1971 for demonstration flights in Switzerland, as recalled by John Farley in TAH7.
Sir Arnold Hall, Chairman and Managing Director of Hawker Siddeley, and Frederick Corfield, Minister of Aviation Supply, exchange paperwork during the handover ceremony of the first AV-8A at Dunsfold on January 6, 1971, at which AV-8A BuNo 158385 displayed briefly before an engine surge forced it to retire for the day.
The third and fourth AV-8As, BuNos 158386 and 158387, on the production line at Kingston. The former made its first flight on February 3, 1971, and was delivered to its new owners in the USA on March 15. The latter followed it into the air on February 16 and arrived at the US Navy Test Pilots’ School at Pax River on March 12.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT Cdr Bob Thomas, who led the US Naval Preliminary Examination (NPE) team at Dunsfold in January 1969; Lt Tom Casey, seen here taking advice from HSA test pilot John Farley; Maj Bill Schieren, another member of the NPE team, beside XV743, which was lost later the same month while being flown by a USAF pilot; Capt Mike Ripley, who was killed in AV-8A BuNo 158386 in June 1971.
“The father of the AV-8A’’ - Lt-Gen Thomas H. Miller was one of America’s most distinguished naval aviators, having served as a USMC combat pilot in three major conflicts; he flew Wildcats and Corsairs in the Pacific War, Corsairs in Korea and commanded F-4 unit VMFA-513 in Vietnam. Miller was the driving force behind the USMC’s adoption of the Harrier.