THIS WEEK IN 1991: Controls scare as carrier puts to sea

Part of a wider picture of clippies at North End tram depot In Gladys Avenue, Portsmouth. I have counted 175 members of staff of which just 21 are men. Picture: Barry Cox Collection

NOSTALGIA: Hundreds of clippies replaced men who were called up

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The Royal Navy’s Sea Harrier fighter jets were grounded in a safety scare.

Top officers ordered an immediate flying ban after a pilot from HMS Ark Royal found the controls on his multi-million pound jet were not working properly.

The problem – the latest in a series of technical snags to dog the navy – was discovered as the Portsmouth-based carrier HMS Invincible put to sea to show off the navy’s capability to officers from the army and air force.

The officer in charge of Invincible’s planes, Commander Warren Benbow, said: ‘A Sea Harrier from Ark Royal became airborne and found unusual constrictions in the controls.

‘It went to land ashore, as is normal practice, and there was no accident.

‘But as is normal practice whenever anything like this happens we are carrying out quality inspections on all our Sea Harriers.’

Commander Benbow said the problem was traced to a pneumatic high pressure air line running to controls on the Sea Harrier.

The navy checked eight aircraft from HMS Invincible and eight from HMS Ark Royal.