”PERFECT FOR THE JOB”

That was how the late John Farley (left) described the approach that helped lead to the Hawker Siddeley Harrier securing a US Marine Corps order, but it could just as well apply to the aircraft itself — and the great test pilot. Later, American participation proved pivotal in developing the improved Harrier II. Had it not been for Farley, none of this might have come about

JOHN FARLEY AND THE AV-8

John Farley became chief test pilot at Dunsfold in 1978. He remained so until 1983. BAe VIA CHRIS FARARA
At the Farnborough show of 1972, Hawker Siddeley was able to display AV-8A BuNo 158699 before its delivery to the US Marine Corps, alongside Harrier GR1 XV742 — which USMC officers Col Tom Miller and Lt Col ‘Bud’ Baker had evaluated at Dunsfold in 1968 — and Harrier T2 XW175, later modified to become the VAAC (Vectored-thrust Aircraft Advanced Control) testbed, in which John Farley had significant input and which contributed much to the Lockheed Martin F-35 programme. Duncan Simpson, Don Riches and John Farley were flying them. ADRIAN M. BALCH

Perhaps more than any other individual, John Farley, who has just died aged 85, was instrumental in cementing the Harrier legend. Of course the early, pioneering P1127 appearances in the hands of Bill Bedford and others had electrified everyone, but Farley’s demonstrations of the vertical/short take-off and landing jet showed the world just how practical, how usable, its unique qualities were.

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