Harrier Pilot Lands Aircraft on a Stool

U.S. Marine Corps Capt. William Mahoney had a problem on June 7. His front landing gear had malfunctioned and he still needed to land his AV-8B Harrier on the flight deck of the USS Bataan.

In the video, Mahoney explains the process he went through with the crew to get the Harrier back on the deck. As you can see, a stool is placed on the deck and Mahoney guides the Harrier’s nose onto the stool.

Mahoney said he was unable to see the stool while he was lowering the Harrier before the aircraft drops to the flight deck. Notice how there is no one on the flight deck during the landing.

The Bataan is operating in the 6th Fleet withMarine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 263 (Reinforced) and the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) aboard.

About the Author

Michael Hoffman
Michael Hoffman is the executive editor at Tandem NSI and a contributor to Military.com. He can be reached at mhoffman@tandemnsi.com.
  • andy

    what? no air bag?

  • M. Bouffant

    I heard elsewhere these “stools” are standard equipment. Just how often does a Harrier’s front gear fail?

    • blight_

      It’s either that or a belly landing. Any other aircraft with a landing gear failure gets to do the belly landing.

      • Eric Waggle

        On an aircraft carrier? They get to do a low speed ejection into the ocean.

        • blight_

          If the nets fail, then thank god for zero-zero ejection seats…eject before the aircraft rolls over.

          If your tailhook comes down, even with landing gear issues you can still trap and belly-slide. If the tailhook fails to come down, it’s nets. If both tailhook and landing gear fail to come down, it’s nets and a prayer.

        • James

          At least once, Eric.

    • BobSacamano

      I’d bet that nose gear support came from somewhere down in the hangar bay and is used when pulling maintenance on the nose gear… That’s my guess.

      • blight_

        Sounds feasible. I imagine they put the stool/brace/support on deck and walked away…I imagine it gets rather hot down there. And the longer you dither about trying to land on it the more likely it is to cause heat problems.

        Was probably talked down over radio…great stuff regardless.

    • ONTIME

      It’s called a beatsme aid…….Remember that pilot said “where’s the stool and they said, Beats me!

  • Big-Dean

    Navy/Marine Corp, best d a m n aviators anywhere!

  • jamesb

    Props to the Harrier Driver Nevertheless!

  • kevin

    In the 80’s when I was working in Saudi Arabia when an F-15 stalled at 20,000 ft and the Saudi pilot punched out. He was praised for saving his own life. At the time I always thought that if it were an American pilot the consequences would have been different. Navy pilot’s are so well trained in saving the aircraft up to the micro-second before the decision of defeat! Big Kudos’!!

    • blight_

      Don’t forget the Israeli pilot who lost part of a wing and still landed. The Skyhawk the F-15 collided with disintegrated (the pilot wisely punched out instead of trying to be brave about it).

      In-flight breakups are nasty business, even nastier than landing gear problems.

      • Ziv

        blight, I read about that Israeli pilot landing after the mid-air collision. Amazing stuff. The photos show that the intake may have generated a bit of lift but that was one tough bird! http://www.strangemilitary.com/content/item/11009…

        • GunnyJ

          With enough power even an ironing board can fly.

  • Mike H.

    Crewmembers aboard the USS Bataan report a Marine Aviator who makes an odd clanking noise whenever he walks…

  • john

    Another reason why pilots that bring there aircraft aboard ships are the best aviators hands down.

  • Mitch S.

    In Lt Col Darling’s book about being in the White House bunker on 9/11, he tells the story about flying Cobras during the first Gulf war when a Cobra had its skids ripped off by ground contact.
    They made it back to the airport and ground crews managed to round up steel pallets and stack them so the Cobra could land by resting its stub wings on the pallets (otherwise it would have tipped and the main rotor would have hit the ground destroying the aircraft).
    Any landing you can walk away from…

  • Richard Sloof

    Guy’s that was some flying, I think the Lord was with the Pilot the whole way. Well done. Regards Richard.

  • jd

    Wow top gun eat ur heart out! One brave dude!

  • Lightingguy

    It was essentially your basic everyday Harrier landing. Only thing different is they typically come in on the side of the ship, then use the ships built-in landing light system to locate and scoot to the right and drop down.

    Of course everything could have gone wrong and he could’ve have missed and or and knocked the nose clear off. Good flying saved the aircraft.

    Cant’ wait to hear the rest of the story from my nephew, who’s a Major and harrier pilot with 3 MAW.

  • Beltway Bandit

    I bet $100 this was probably a Lance Corporal’s idea.

  • Rob C.

    Bravo to the pilot. That’s a tough situation to be in.

  • Vladimir

    What about installing undercarriage camera so you can see where are you landing?

    • hialpha


  • grandpa5x

    Its hard enough to land on an aircraft carrier deck when everything is working, what he did is amazing, hell of a job Marine!!

  • Mark

    Had he used an F-35 he would gave been able to see through the aircraft and known where he was landing. This amazing Harrier pilot never saw the stool till after he got out of the plan. Awesome skill.

    • Mark


  • conradswims

    Well Done!

  • Allie

    This is just amazing..What a pilot~~

  • Bruce M Oliver Ret.

    How many millions did he save?? He needs a bonus!!

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