Rare video of Marines AV-8B Harrier no nose gear vertical landing on amphibious assault ship

Jun 26 2014 - 21 Comments

One of the few (if not the only) video showing a Harrier Jump Jet (nose) gear up landing on USS Bataan.

Here’s something you don’t see every day.

On Jun. 7, 2014, U.S. Marine Corps Capt. William Mahoney, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 263 (Reinforced), 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), had to perform Vertical Landing on USS Bataan, after his AV-8B Harrier aircraft experienced a front landing gear malfunction.

USS Bataan was operating in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations to augment U.S. Crisis Response forces in the region when Mahoney took off from the amphibious assault ship.

As he was climbing away from the deck he suddenly realized he had a gear malfunction. He immediately slowed down in order not to overspeed the landing gear, returned above the ship at 2,000 feet and started talking to “Paddles” (LSO – Landing Signal Officers), a pilot in the control tower who could provide assistance by radio.

Harrier no nose gear down

The Harrier flew the approach at 300 ft so that the LSO could see the landing gear and give some guidance to put the nose on a tool the ship has for this kind of issues: a sort-of stool.

Since there’s no way to train to land in this kind of situation, the pilot had to fly a perfect vertical landing, using the ship lighting system and the help of LSO on his first attempt.

Luckily, he stabilized at 20 feet and managed to land in the proper spot as shown in the video (that, weirdly, was removed by the Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet feed that had published it; luckily, we found it again and reuploaded it since it is unclassified and released as you can see in the first frames of the footage).


  • Victorinox

    The video was removed :-(

    • Tom Jones

      Mines working fine

  • Ozmodiar Flanker

    video removed, tried to search utube to see if there was another upload – denied. boo!

  • Lawrence D. Wood

    The AV8 was a real widow maker for the USMC when the USMC first received the aircraft. For awhile, the AV8 was limited to majors and above with a minimum of 2,000 hrs flying experience. Then, the AV8B was rolled out, but the training was still the issue. Once the Marines figured out the airplane, it has been a stable performer since. Small, it makes a harder target to hit, and it’s not that heavy on ordnance, but does a good job in Afghanistan.

  • OG_Locc

    Nice flying!

  • I’ve got to ask – how often does this happen that there’s a specific device made for this situation?

    • Tom Jones

      Good question. Any ideas people?

      • Drumwaster

        The military has entire departments of people who do nothing but sit around and think up the many, MANY ways things can possibly go wrong, and what can be done to mitigate the damage. One could just as reasonably ask “How often does someone launch a missile at an aircraft carrier?”, but look at all the defenses it has against just such an occurrence. And that stand might never be needed, but it doesn’t look like it take up much space, and could easily fit in a closet in an out-of-the-way rope locker, and the only requirement is that people be able to get at it in a hurry, even if they have to toss the brooms and swab buckets out in the passageway to be picked up later…

        That having been said, Bravo Zulu to the pilot

      • Arno Nymes

        Maybe this “tool” is not designed for emergency landings ? Its maybe an usual maintenance tool smartly used in an emergency situation ?

  • mzungu

    That’s some serious upgrade from those mattresses they used that one time. :P

    Geezzz… How often the Harriers nose gear fails?

    • mynetdude

      probably more often than the F-16 ;)

  • interesting

  • henrymart81

    The video starts at 2:00

  • Talon

    *sigh* not a stool -_-

  • fugidget

    u go marine . semper fi

  • Aleksey

    Why was it so important to support the nose at landing?

    • Callsign Vega

      Because a nose cone smashing into the landing deck is a bad thing. It would actually be a costly repair…

    • Andrew

      Otherwise the nose bounces off of the flight deck and, at best (assuming no one is injured or nothing explodes and cases more damage), you’ve wrecked a $30 million airplane.

  • arkannis

    I would imagine that the “stool” is probably used for supporting the front end of the plane while maintenance is being done on the front landing gear. Probably not designed for landing on, but one hell of a improvisation.

  • Jordan Varmette

    I used to be Crash Fire Rescue at MCAS Cherry Point. I saw one land with no landing gear once. With the external tanks and the ventral strakes instead of the 25mm cannon, there is actually a lot to land on in lieu of the landing gear. Didn’t even seem to hurt the aircraft. We used our crane to lift it and they pried the gear down and towed it off to the hangar. The plane also has an emergency blowdown system which uses compressed CO2 or something. It vents out the bottom of the aircraft when used. I saw that on one that had a gear failure as well. I even saw one that flew through a hail storm and its nose was basically gone, holes punched through the leading edge of the wings. He didn’t do a hover landing though, I think the leading edge damage screwed up the puffer tubes on the wingtips so he came in like a normal plane. The Harrier is the butt of a lot of jokes, from myself included, but it gets the job done and the pilots are first rate. My main complaint about it is how loud they are when we were sitting in our firetrucks and they were hovering a couple hundred yards away. Still deafening…

  • Arno Nymes

    These pilot is excellent ! US Marines can be proud of him !