With Harriers in action over Kosovo I prefer to think of this innovative VTOL aeroplane in happier times. The Hawker P1127 first hovered in 1960, Bill Bedford at the controls. It was meant for `possible NATO and RAF future requirements’. In the Daily Mail Trans-Atlantic Air Race of 1969, advocated by MOTOR SPORT, a Harrier took off from a St Pancras coal yard.
From the race start at the Post Office Tower (or Empire State Building in New York) cars such as Aston Martin DB6s and E-Type Jags took competing pilots to the chosen take-off points. The Harrier from the coal-yard I had to see! His time including the trans-Atlantic crossing was 6hr 11min 57sec. From New York to London another Harrier took just less than 5hr 50min. The race winner was a Royal Navy Phantom, in a time of 5hr 11min 23sec, at an average of 723.8mph flying time.