See the World’s Only Privately Held Harrier at Oshkosh

    April 7, 2010 - Among the many unique aircraft aviation enthusiasts get to see up close in Oshkosh this year will be the world's only privately owned, civilian-flyable Harrier jump jet. Its owner, retired Marine test pilot Lt. Col. Art Nalls, EAA 689513/Warbirds 549224, plans to arrive at Oshkosh in his BAE Sea Harrier F/A2 on Sunday before opening day, then make several flying demonstrations throughout the week.

    He purchased the completely demilitarized aircraft in 2006 from a broker who had obtained it from Britain's Royal Navy surplus. It's the second Sea Harrier ever manufactured, Nalls said, and at 31 years old, the oldest surviving one.

    Art Nalls prepares for takeoff in his Sea Harrier FA2.
    Photo by Leslie Custalow

    AirVenture attendees have seen numerous American AV-8A and AV-8B Harriers demonstrate the type's unique vertical/short take-off and landing (V/STOL) abilities, but Nall's will be the first British Sea Harrier to appear. The differences in the aircraft variants are significant, he said.

    "The Sea Harrier is a fighter aircraft designed to shoot down enemy aircraft," he said, while the AV-8s were designed for air-to-ground and close air support. "The Sea Harrier has a bigger nose, a raised canopy for better visibility, and shorter wings." It also has a 50,000 feet-per-minute climb rate, much faster that of the AV/8, which Nalls spent most of his military career flying.

    With the aircraft based at St. Mary's County Airport, Maryland, Nalls is the first pilot to be civilian and aerobatic rated in Harriers. His flying partner and fellow test pilot, Retired USMC Major General Joe Anderson, is the second. Anderson and Nalls have known each other for 25 years and flew AV-8A Harriers in the famous Ace of Spades Squadron, VMA-231. Anderson, now the Deputy Director for the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles Airport in Washington, D.C., also has attained the rare feat of 2,500 flight hours in Harriers.

    Flying demonstration at Oshkosh times have yet to be finalized, so stay tuned. However, it'll be obvious when the Harrier is flying; when Nalls fires up the thunderous Rolls-Royce Pegasus Mk.106 vectored thrust turbofans, virtually everyone on the convention grounds heads for the flight line. When not flying, the aircraft will be on static display on AeroShell Square.



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