Video: RAF Harrier does low altitude fly-by pass in Afghanistan

There is some cursing by soldiers in this video, which you'll want to watch with sound to hear the tremendous whoosh.
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28 Responses to Video: RAF Harrier does low altitude fly-by pass in Afghanistan

  1. dculberson says:

    Zuzu, any red-blooded man that’s not an effeminate Sideshow Bob type can’t help but get his pulse up when a powerful airplane roars by at full throttle.

    I don’t go often, but I did make it to this September’s Mustang gathering, where over 50 P51’s gathered and flew around being impressive. None of them are war planes any more, but they’re still really incredible.

  2. ianm says:

    Zuzu, I hate to burst your bubble, but the Shuttle Program is not pristine either (even though I am a giant NASA fanboy), little industrial infrastructure in the US of A is not touched by the Pentagon (eg your freeway system).


    It should however be noted that, early in the design phase of what eventually became the Space Shuttle, there were plans for the U.S. military to purchase some of the vehicles for its own purposes (mainly the servicing and crewing of proposed ‘surveillance space stations’). The design requirements that thus emerged (in particular, the need for a longer-range glide capability, enabling the shuttle to land at specific U.S. Air Force bases), affected the eventual design of the vehicle, increasing its complexity. However, none of these ‘Blue Shuttles’ were ever built, and the U.S. military turned to increasingly sophisticated unmanned satellites as a more viable alternative.

    Regular space shuttles have on occasion carried out missions for the military. It is noteworthy that NASA and the DoD agreed on delivering Discovery to Vandenberg AFB, first in May 1985 and then in September of that year. Discovery would have been dedicated for military and civilian flights from Vandenberg’s SLC-6 launch complex. The schedule slipped until the Challenger Accident in January 1986. In the wake of Challenger, on December 26, 1989 the Space Shuttle Program at Vandenberg was terminated by the USAF.[1] Military Shuttle flights were conducted from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the last dedicated mission being STS-53 in late 1992, deploying a military SDS B-3 communication satellite. Some military payloads have been flown on regular civilian Shuttle missions afterwards.[2]

    and here:

    The crucial factor in the size and shape of the Shuttle Orbiter was the requirement that it be able to accommodate the largest planned commercial and classified satellites, and have the cross-range recovery range to meet classified USAF missions requirement for a one-around abort for a polar launch. Factors involved in opting for ‘reusable’ solid rockets and an expendable fuel tank included the desire of the Pentagon to obtain a high-capacity payload vehicle for satellite deployment, and the desire of the Nixon administration to reduce the costs of space exploration by developing a spacecraft with reusable components.

  3. madsci says:

    The Navy likes to scare the crap out of us when we’re diving off of San Clemente. I’ve been eating lunch on the dive boat when an F/A-18 came in low and fast so we couldn’t hear him until the last second, then pulled straight up directly over us.

  4. cha0tic says:

    Try this one for low. Yes there is a dust cloud.

  5. pork musket says:


  6. okcalvin says:

    I was at an airshow in Altus, OK, in ’89 when a B-1 bomber buzzed the airfield (not the AFB, but the civilian field) at 50 ft off the deck. We were about 75-80 yards from the runway. Let’s just say the portajohns got a lot of visits….

  7. Marshall says:

    Hot damn.

    I’m wondering about the lack of wash and wind as well, but the video cuts off pretty quick. I once spun a Honda civic out at about 95 MPH Black Rock and it took about 10-20 seconds for the wash we had picked up to catch up to us when the car finally slid to a halt. Maybe they cut that part, or whomever was holding the camera was smart enough to shut it off and cover it before it got sandblasted.

  8. montauk says:

    did this make anyone else think of Kid Sampson in catch-22?

  9. grimc says:

    A similar experience can be had during Fleet Week in San Francisco. Just finagle your way onto the roof of an apartment building on Russian or Telegraph Hill. It’s quite a thing to be able to look up and clearly see one of the Blue Angels. Not just the aircraft, but the actual guy flying it. And he’s upside down.

  10. knutmo says:

    nice gadget

  11. alienvet says:

    Well, the Portuguese airforce did that over my house one of this days in a practice exercise. Almost killed my grandfather with a heart attack.

  12. SpeckledJim says:

    It’s far more fun when they fly by BELOW you. Saw this a couple of times with RAF jets in the Highlands of Scotland where I think they do a lot of low-altitude training.

  13. 13strong says:

    As much as I hate people creaming themselves over military technology (Whoa! Look at it destroy people’s homes and livelihoods and wreak havoc on their psyches!), I have to admit that was kind of cool.

    I also love that these highly-trained lean mean fighting men are reduced to 8 year old boys by a low-flying plane. Aww.

  14. artbot says:

    As a (mostly) former airplane fanatic, I dig these kinds of things. As a thinking, and sometimes caring, adult, all I can see is this plane dropping cluster bombs on poor neighborhoods. Yes, I’m impressed as hell at the technology and the pilots’ training, but sadly, jet fighters are nothing more than weapons delivery platforms.

    Yes, it’s a crushing revelation from a once-upon-a-time airshow fanatic who once dreamed of becoming a fighter pilot.

  15. Anonymous says:

    How many of these people whining “Oh no, the military!” are anarchists? If you support any sort of government, you support the police/military.

    Every law if enforced, is ultimately enforced with the threat of violence. Every government program that you support is funded because the government carries out taxation at gun point. The very definition of the state is the institution that has a legal monopoly on violence in a specific geographic area.

    You support funding for the arts? Well then, you support armed folks prepared to commit acts of violence on command against those who don’t pay up for the funding! You support environmental laws? Well then you support armed folks prepared to commit acts of violence against those who break the laws. We have a lot of institutional and ritualistic abstraction around the violence, but at its core, the violence is there.

    If you have a problem with certain actions in Afghanistan, then you have a problem with the civilian government that ordered the military to be there, not the military. The folks serving in the armed forced didn’t ask to be there, they much rather be at home.

    The real reason for all the hate against the military is that the military is often associated with the working classes. Despite all the token progressive posturing in the blogosphere and forums like this, your average psuedo-progressive douchebag hate the working class and everything they represent. They love all the privileges that the modern state provides, but consider the people who sacrifice to make it possible to be the “hired help” undeserving of respect.

  16. Fred Rated says:

    And to think… all it took to amuse “our boys” and bring us that scintillating 14-second YouTube video was out-of-control military spending which has brought our species to the brink of a global depression.

    Boys with toys.

    Sarcasm aside, fuck that evil shit.

  17. Simon Greenwood says:

    Many years of going to RAF air shows have left me a bit blase about that sort of thing but I can still vividly remember one of the Red Arrows’ routines where one of the nine planes disappeared and suddenly thundered across the apron of the RAF base seemingly less than twenty feet above our heads. I think I was about twelve when I saw that.

    For that matter, there are also few things more impressive than walking in the hills and watching a Tornado doing a practice run *below* you.

  18. zuzu says:

    Air show? Buzz-cut Alabamians spewing colored smoke in their whiz-jets to the strains of Rock You Like A Hurricane. What kind of country-fried rube is still impressed by that?!

  19. zuzu says:

    Zuzu, any red-blooded man that’s not an effeminate Sideshow Bob type can’t help but get his pulse up when a powerful airplane roars by at full throttle.

    The man sings one Gilbert and Sullivan musical and he’s pigeonholed… :p

    Yes, it’s all very impressive engineering (especially craft such as the SR-71 Blackbird, or all the attempts at scramjet technology), but the whole “death delivery system” (and tax payor cost) nature of it does kinda overshadow that impression for me.

    Watching NASA shuttle launches are far more impressive to me; at least NASA has a solvent budget through satellite launching and is a civilian government agency. (Though the infamy of its deadly bureaucracy is not lost on me either.) Here’s hoping that microgravity becomes a valuable resource for nanotechnology development and spurs private initiatives for constructing O’Neill cylinders as factory cities in space.

  20. dculberson says:

    Totally awesome.

    While it’s definitely flying low, it’s not as low as it seems. Because these things are much bigger and much louder than you think.

    So it’s not 20′ off the ground, but more like 100′. Still very, very low.

  21. Brawndo says:

    @ #11:

    Now that you mention it, this sort of pass *is* usually followed by the spectators getting sandblasted; I grew up near a USAF test bombing range where they used to let us park our cars under the tower and watch the jets (mostly A-10s and F4s). The F4 pilots especially were fond of doing low-altitude flybys for the public’s amusement, and they were always closely followed by a second burst of wind carry kicked-up sand particles. I wonder how we missed that in this video? Maybe he was flying fast enough that it hadn’t arrived yet before the video ended. I doubt it’s fake, it seems like a lot of bother to fake something that wouldn’t be that hard to catch for real.

  22. ridl says:

    It’s so not fair that you only get to play with the coolest toys if you’re willing to kill on command. Lousy lucky military.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Did you see that?

    I almost didn’t. Was the jet on screen for more than one frame of video?

  24. zuzu says:

    Zuzu, I hate to burst your bubble, but the Shuttle Program is not pristine either (even though I am a giant NASA fanboy), little industrial infrastructure in the US of A is not touched by the Pentagon (eg your freeway system).

    No bubble burst… Eisenhower’s highway system based on Hitler’s use of the Autobahn that also double as B-52 bomber landing strips, moon-landing Saturn V rocketry derived from von Braun’s V-2, etc. etc.

    I suppose it’s reasonable to say that it’s all conditional to some degree of military involvement, and I’m grateful for any measure in which that military influence is reduced. (Hell, here we are on the Internet founded by DARPA, but now it’s mostly a porn delivery system.)

    Thanks for the references, though. :)

  25. Beedie says:

    Here’s a low pass (and probably a violation of FAA rules) that ordinary citizens got to witness at a Naval Academy football game. The second camera angle is the better one:

    During four years of standing in the stadium’s lower level, I thought some of those pilots were flying pretty low. Here’s proof.

  26. claud9999 says:

    I dunno, seems fake…Where’s the huge plume of dust trailing the jet? (Yeah, they cut the vid almost immediately after it passes overhead, but you should see it behind the jet as it approaches, no?)

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