The incident Alraigo, or As the fighter jet made an emergency landing on cargo ship

This is a real story that happened in June 1983. Spanish container ship Alraigo was in the open sea along the coast of Portugalii in the direction of Tenerife. A few miles away was the British carrier HMS Illustrious to participate in joint NATO exercises. With his side soared ZA176 Sea Harrier fighter plane with vertical take-off and landing, manned 25-year-old second Lieutenant Ian Watson (Ian Watson).

His task was to enter a couple of with another fighter Sea Harrier, which was made by the flight leader, and in the designated area to find a French aircraft carrier. Simulating combat conditions, both aircraft kept radio silent and off the radar. Reaching the search area, they split up, climbed to the assigned altitude, turned on the radar and began to study separate areas.

After completing a search in my area, Watson went down and headed to the point where he had to connect with the flight leader. When the second plane appeared, Watson, relying on the inertial navigation system began to return to HMS Illustrious, but was unable to detect. The pilot attempted to call the aircraft carrier on the radio, but encountered only silence in the air, looking for him with the help of radar, but also to no avail.

Knowing that the main trails in the area lie near the shore, Watson turned to the East. After some time the radar detected HMS Illustrious and pilot went to him, but 50 miles from the fuel has been exhausted – it would be enough for only a few minutes of flight. Then 12 miles from Watson itself has noticed a container ship Alraigo. The plan was to get as close to the ship, to make sure that it noticed the plane and eject.

Having no way to contact the ship, Watson pointedly, at low altitude circled it around. He had noticed that on the deck Alraigo are several flat containers. One of them resembled the size of the landing pad, where Watson had once trained. The pilot weighed his chances and decided to take a chance.

Slowly and carefully, Watson started to put the Sea Harrier ZA176 on the container. He was too smooth and when the pilot turned off the landing gear and the vehicle began to slide back, the tail section had fallen. The fall prevented fortified behind container van – drove him to the florist in Tenerife, which took the impact and kept the plane on the spot.

About the guest from heaven immediately reported to the British government, but the company-the owner of the container ship forbade him to violate the schedule, so the next four days Ian Watson and his Sea Harrier ZA176 held on Board Alraigo. When the ship arrived in the port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, he was met by a crowd of reporters and spectators.

For participation in “operation rescue” crew and owners Alraigo received compensation in the amount of £ 570 million (approximately USD $ 1.1 million in our time). After the return of the pilot on HMS Illustrious held a meeting of the special Commission, which essentially made no verdict. But when the aircraft carrier returned to port, was held the investigation.

In 2007, the British national archives has declassified several documents of the Royal Navy, including a report of the second Commission on the case of Watson. In the documents it was noted that the pilot had only completed 75% of their training that talked about his unwillingness to participate in such missions. Investigators accused Watson of incompetence, and his command that the aircraft was not fully prepared for departure, from-for what during the mission on Board revealed problems with communication. Anyway, the reprimand did exactly the pilot and temporarily sent him to clerical work.

After this story, Ian Watson managed to bump another 2 000 hours on fighter aircraft Sea Harrier, and another 900 hours on the F/A-18s before he retired in 1996. Publication of this story in the British media in 2008 caused a wide resonance. Many felt that the Commission’s findings in the matter of Watson’s incorrect, and imposed on him a disciplinary sanction is outrageous, because of the situation the pilot had somehow managed to lose the car. Watson himself says that his mind is the attention of the public, and he opposed the initiation of the review. Like, what happened, happened.

    Egor Lanin
    Author ruYachts

    Journalist, news editor. The team 2014. Major topics: motor yachts, concepts, gadgets and technology.

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