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End of era for Harriers

LEGENDARY: John Fozard meets former Heckmondwike Grammar headteacher Mark Tweedle on a visit to the school.

LEGENDARY: John Fozard meets former Heckmondwike Grammar headteacher Mark Tweedle on a visit to the school.

THE Harrier Jump Jet – which was designed by a Liversedge man who grew up on a council estate – has made its final flight, signalling the end of an era.

Thousands turned out to watch the Harriers pass over seven military bases last week, as one of Britain’s greatest technical achievements fell victim to defence cuts. The Harriers will be decommissioned next year to be replaced by the Joint Strike Fighter.

Aircraft engineer Lt Cdr Mark Kingdom, of 800 Naval Air Squadron, who will be working on the replacement, said the planes would be missed.

“It’s a British evolution, a British design, and it’s done such a fantastic job in its 41 years of service,” he said.

Heckmondwike Grammar School pupil John Fozard became design chief for the Harrier “Jump Jet” Tactical Fighter Bomber from 1963-1978.

Mr Fozard lived in Holme Street, Millbridge, before his family moved to Firthcliffe Estate. He studied at London University, where he gained a First in engineering. Afterwards, he studied at the College of Aeronautics, Cranfield. He served an engineering apprenticeship with Blackburn Aircraft and joined Hawkers in 1950 as a design engineer under Sir Sydney Camm, whose historic designs included the Hart (1928), and the Hurricane prototype (1935).

Aged 37, he was the youngest ever Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, which he served as president in 1986. He published many papers in aeronautical journals and was recognised with an OBE in 1981. He died in 1996 aged 68.

The plane saw glorious service in the Falklands War. BBC stalwart Brian Hanrahan, who made his name in the heat of battle in the Falklands, was synonymous with the planes and delivered his famous line “I counted them all out and I counted them all back” during the 1982 conflict to get round restrictions on revealing how many planes had taken part in an operation.

The 61-year-old journalist was invited to the last fly-over last week but was too ill to attend. He died on Monday.

 

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