Jim McAllister, proprietor of Dunsfold Park, the current name for Dunsfold Aerodrome, arranged a celebration on Tuesday16th November (so as not to clash with the Association's Brooklands event)  to mark the 50th anniversary of the first P.1127 free hover at Dunsfold in 1960. Invitations were sent to quite a few Hawker and Dunsfold old hands as well as to local dignitaries and the news media. The highlight was to be a display by two Harrier GR9s from RAF Wittering.

The 16th dawned foggy with the hope of a clearance so the guests arrived at Dunsfold at 10 am as requested. At about 11 am the sound of Harriers in the circuit could be heard and the two GR9s could occasionally be glimpsed through what was now low, thin cloud brightly illuminated by a strong winter sun. Several semi-visible semi-jet borne flypasts were carried out, but no landings. Sadly the Harriers departed to refuel in the hope of returning but by now conditions were deteriorating at Wittering so a prompt return to base was called for.

Dunsfold Park P.1127 Celebration


Meanwhile the guests were socialising and enjoying the excellent refreshments provided by Jim McAllister in what used to be the Aerodrome Manager's building. The good news was that the Harrier team promised to return on the following Thursday and all the guests were invited to return as well.

Thursday was dull but fog-free and quite good enough for the two Harriers (ZD321 and ZD330) from IVR Squadron RAF Wittering, the OCU, to give an impressive V/STOL display on arrival. After landing the aircraft were parked side-by-side on the eastern ORP and refuelled by the RAF support team who had again come down by road in their smart Harrier Display Team van. With this task completed the media descended to film, photograph and interview RAF Harrier pilot Wing Commander Simon Jessett  wearing a 2000 hours Harrier patch, as well as our pilots, Duncan Simpson, John Farley, and Chris Roberts.

Once again the guests repaired to refreshments before watching the aircraft STO in dramatic clouds of spray off a wet runway in an easterly direction. It had been a real pleasure to see and hear the sound of Harrier jets at Dunsfold, a bittersweet experience as this was certainly one of the very last public appearances of our great jet V/STOL fighter and certainly the last time a Harrier will be flying at Dunsfold.