35 years ago a RAF Harrier destroyed part of a grass strip by simply applying full throttle on take off.
The following video has been around for some time now. Still, it’s quite funny and interesting as it shows what happened in 1980 to a RAF Harrier GR.3 that was taking part in an airshow at Bex, Switzerland.
The small airport, located in southwestern Switzerland, west of Sion, didn’t have a paved runway (nor does it have it today) but just a small taxiway leading from the main apron to the threshold of the grass strip.
Not a big deal for the Jump Jet, designed to operate from grass, unprepared runways and artificial surfaces.
However, when the Harrier pilot pushed the throttle forward to accelerate the aircraft down the runway something unexpected happened: the Rolls Royce Pegasus thrust-vectored turbofan engine unleashed some 21,500 lbf of thrust backwards, tearing up the upper layer of the runway including the RWY33 threshold and part of the taxiway.
Have a look:
Interestingly, it was not the first time the RAF Jump Jet took off from the grass strip at Bex: the following video shows the British Harrier GR.3 taking off from the same airport in 1978, without causing too much damage.
Now, as suggested by our friends at Tacairnet, just think to what would happen today if much more powerful F-35B were to perform a short take off run using Bex’s grass strip.
Pretty sure the grass would be on fire if that was an F-35
In the nineties, in an air show in Zaragoza AB, an AV-8B of the 9th Squadron of the Spanish Navy lifted a huge chunk of concrete of the parking platform aircraft to vertical landing, the powerful jet engine Pegasus came through expansion joints. Unfortunately, the video I saw in his day television news, is not available online. But it was really impressive to see him land on balance on the broken pavement.
That was not grass that was what ever they has on the ground with 39 painted on it. The grass was fine.