The million-dollar landing of a British fighter on a Spanish cargo ship 0The million-dollar landing of a British fighter on a Spanish cargo ship 0

The Sea Harrier landed on the Alraigo.

During a NATO naval exercise on May 6, 1983, Ensign Ian `Soapy` Watson had to make an emergency landing on the Spanish cargo ship Alraigo off the coast of Portugal.

Second Lieutenant Watson controlled the Sea Harrier fighter number ZA-176 from the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious to participate in the exercise.

To simulate combat, the two pilots flew at low altitude, without using radio communications, and the plane’s reconnaissance radar system was also turned off.

The command pilot determined that Watson’s navigation system had been erroneous.

The command pilot tried to search and wait for Watson, but his fuel was low, forcing him to return to the mother ship.

As for Watson, because he could not find the meeting place using the navigation system, the pilot had to rely on the inertial navigation system to find his way back to HMS Illustrious.

Grasping the maritime route off the coast of Portugal, Watson changed direction to fly east.

Because there was no way to contact Alraigo, Watson performed a low flight parallel to the ship’s hull to attract attention.

Sea Harrier is a fighter model capable of taking off and landing vertically or on short runways (SVTOL).

The million-dollar landing of a British fighter on a Spanish cargo ship

Sea Harrier fighter demonstrates vertical landing ability

A Sea Harrier fighter lands vertically on an aircraft carrier

Watson’s Sea Harrier gently landed on the roof of the row of containers, but it slid backwards because it was slippery, even though Watson tried to retract the landing gear.

The captain of the Alraigo refused to abandon the journey to hand over the Sea Harrier and pilot to the British Navy.

When Alraigo docked at Santa Cruz de Tenerife, British representatives and many reporters were waiting.

The million-dollar landing of a British fighter on a Spanish cargo ship

Flying in the wrong direction, the British fighter landed on a cargo ship

The Alraigo ship docked at Tenerife

In 2007, the British government declassified many Navy documents, including the conclusion of the incident of Lieutenant Watson in 1983. The investigation report showed that Watson had only completed 75% of the training program when he was drafted.

Ian `Soapy` Watson was disciplined and had to take a desk job for an extended period before being allowed to fly again.

According to Watson, the media attention caused the British Navy to lose face, leading to harsh disciplinary action.

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