Watch a jet with no front landing gear land on stool

A little-known fact is that a special stool was invented for the very purpose of helping a Harrier jet land without its front landing gear.

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"A stool for your nose, Captain?" Tuneknob/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

There are people, somewhere out there, whose job is to consider what happens in the event of disaster.

It's not a job everyone would want, but it's socially rewarding on occasion.

Here, then, is one example of a simple invention that averted an event that, to a lay eye, might have been troubling.

Earlier this month, the pilot of a Marines AV-8B Harrier jet took off from an amphibious assault ship and soon realized he had a problem with his front landing gear.

As the Aviationist has it, Capt. William Mahoney realized he had a problem very soon after takeoff.

"I went above the ship at about 2,000 feet," he said in a YouTube video, "and started talking to 'Paddles,' who's another jet pilot in the tower that controls us when we land."

This particular ship, however, the USS Bataan, was unusually equipped. As Mahoney explained: "The ship had this amazing invention that was, like, basically a stool, that was built specifically for this reason."

Who would have thought? Certainly not Mahoney, who must have conceived that the obstacles to a landing without nose wheels would be considerable.

His job, however, was to position the aircraft's nose to land precisely on the stool. There was one problem.

"I'm at 20 feet stabilized and I can't see the stool," explained Mahoney. Still, he managed.

After the successful landing, he said: "I don't remember feeling it bounce like it does on the videotape."

He said that after he landed, he had to sit for a while to remember how to turn the plane off.

Mahoney admits to being shaken by the experience because, he admitted, "there's no way to train for this situation."

I still wonder, though, who originally thought of such a simple idea for such a potentially dangerous circumstance.

Perhaps someone who was looking at a footstool one night and thought: "Aha."

 

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