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British aviator pilots Harrier for the last time

This happened only a week ago.
Windsock online 11 Aug 2011 said:
For more than 50 years the United Kingdom has been a helping asset in the development of one of the most versatile aircraft in the world, the AV-8B Harrier. However, on Dec. 16, 2010 the last British Harrier landed and shut down for the last time. For one pilot, the journey was extended. British Royal Navy Lt. Cmdr. Nathan J. Gray, serving with the Marines of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing’s Marine Attack Squadron 542 and Marine Attack Training Squadron 203, flew a Harrier for the last time Aug. 5.

“It is bittersweet,” said Gray, who is a Harrier pilot instructor with VMAT-203. “I have been flying the Harrier for about 10 years, and after this flight I will never set foot in the cockpit of a Harrier again.”

Gray said he is happy that he is going to be known as the last British Harrier pilot, but the title comes with a cost.

“I have dedicated my time as a Harrier pilot to my instructor,” said Gray. “I went on my final training flight in a TAV-8B two-seated Harrier with my instructor, British Royal Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jak London. I was flying and there was a mechanical malfunction so we had to eject. We ejected parallel to the ground and my shoot deployed while his didn’t. We lost a great pilot and I’m dedicating this last flight to the man who taught me everything.”...

The full version of The Windsock, the newspaper of USMC aviation, can be found here.
 
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