Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Monday, March 29, 1999 Published at 18:36 GMT 19:36 UK


Harrier pilots tell of adrenalin and fear

Harrier pilots are supporting each other during the air strikes

RAF Harrier pilots have described the adrenalin rush experienced by being locked onto by Yugoslavian surface-to-air missiles.

Kosovo: Special Report
The pilots spoke at the Gioia del Colle air base in Italy just hours after they returned from a mission over Yugoslavia where one pilot was spotted by an enemy radar and took evasive action.

They told of the adrenalin rush they felt while in the air, as well as the fear experienced afterwards.

One pilot, a Scotsman in his 30s, said: "When you see it, it is not fear. There is no obvious feeling of fear.

[ image:  ]
"In peacetime if you get it wrong you get a hard time from the rest of the formation. The difference here is that if you get it wrong you die.

"You see something happening, you take appropriate action. It is only when you are back in your bedroom that you think about it and then there is fear."

The pilot, who was flying alongside the Harrier targeted by the Yugoslav radar, said that when his colleague had returned to base he had been worried that he had acted correctly.

'Textbook reaction'

He said: "He was concerned, he did the right thing. He did absolutely the right thing. It was a textbook reaction and he can take comfort from that."

Another pilot said the others had supported the airman when he got back, and they had talked about what had happened "very openly over a beer".

[ image: The airmen are risking death]
The airmen are risking death
He said: "We support each other and we talk about our feelings in the debrief. We are a very close community."

The second pilot said that when the American Stealth Bomber plane was brought down on Saturday, the mood was "very down and up".

He said: "It concentrates the mind. It focuses attention. His being rescued was very encouraging indeed."

Explaining how real missions differed from training exercises, he said: "You are thinking hard, but you know where you are - over enemy territory."

[ image: Pilots feel fear after sorties]
Pilots feel fear after sorties
A third pilot, in his 20s, was asked if the airmen regarded their mission so far as a success.

He said: "For us as pilots it is a success that we all come back. Our prime aim is to survive."

When he was fired on, adrenalin rushed through his system and his thought processes quickened, he said.

The Scottish pilot added: "When we look back we will remember every single minute of the sorties we have done.

"What felt like an hour is compressed into a minute - the adrenalin is definitely flowing."

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

UK Contents

Northern Ireland

Relevant Stories

29 Mar 99 | UK
Harriers prepare for further raids

29 Mar 99 | UK
Low-level flight, high-level danger

29 Mar 99 | UK Politics
Intensify air strikes - Blair

29 Mar 99 | UK
Britain's best in Kosovo action

25 Mar 99 | UK
Frontline squadron's proud history

Internet Links

RAF Harrier GR-7

RAF Kosovo News

Ministry of Defence


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online