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Sea Harrier taking off HMS Invincible

On this day 30 October 1980

Published: 30 Oct 2012

On 30 October 1980, the test pilot, Lt Cdr David Poole from Boscombe Down, flying XZ439 made the first Sea Harrier launch from a ski jump at sea, from HMS Invincible.

HMS Invincible, lead ship of the class was launched 3 May 1977 without a ski jump which was added during the fitting out stage. The ski jump, invented by Lt Cdr Douglas Taylor, was an upward-curving ramp at the end of the Short Take-Off run which imparted a positive vertical velocity to the aircraft. As well as offering more payload, the ski jump enhances safety because the aircraft is going upwards as it leaves the end of the ramp, giving more time to eject in the event of a problem. Initially, 7° ramps were fitted to Invincible and Illustrious, and Hermes and Ark Royal got 12° ramps. Later Invincible and Illustrious were refitted with 12° ramps.

Image courtesy IWM (Non Commercial Licence)


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