the many unique aircraft aviation enthusiasts get to see up close at
AirVenture Oshkosh this year is 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, is here with his BAE Sea
Harrier F/A2 and will make several flying demonstrations throughout the
Trust us, you’ll know when it’s
flying. When Nalls fires up the thunderous Rolls-Royce Pegasus Mk.106
vectored thrust turbofans, virtually everyone on the convention grounds
heads for the flightline.
Nalls 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.
AirVenture attendees have seen numerous
American AV-8A and AV-8B Harriers demonstrate the type’s unique
vertical/short takeoff and landing (V/STOL) abilities, but Nalls 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 Marine Maj. Gen. 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., has also attained the rare
feat of 2,500 flight hours in Harriers.
When not flying, the aircraft will be on
static display on AeroShell Square.
DATES: 2014: July 28-Aug. 3;
2015: July 20-26; 2016: July 25-31; 2017: July 24-30