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