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Sea Harrier
Art Nalls' Sea Harrier hovers on the flightline at AirVenture 2010.
Art Nalls
Art Nalls sits in the cockpit of his BAE Sea Harrier F/A2, the only privately owned Sea Harrier in the world.

May 16, 2013 - EAA welcomes back the world's only privately owned flying BAE Sea Harrier F/A2 to AirVenture Oshkosh 2013, as Art Nalls will bring his showstopping VTOL jump jet to Wittman Regional Airport.

Nalls, EAA 689513/Warbirds 549224, wowed the crowd when he brought the aircraft to Oshkosh in 2010 and 2011. This year he plans to arrive Saturday or Sunday prior to opening day, then make several flying demonstrations throughout the week before departing Thursday, August 1.

Nalls, who flew Harriers while serving as a lieutenant colonel in the Marines, 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 34 years old, the oldest one surviving.

Over the years AirVenture attendees have seen their share of American AV-8A and AV-8B Harriers demonstrate the type's unique vertical/short takeoff and landing (V/STOL) abilities. But Nalls' was the first British Sea Harrier to appear in Oshkosh, and the differences in the aircraft variants are significant.

"The Sea Harrier is a fighter aircraft designed to shoot down enemy aircraft," Nalls 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 foot-per-minute climb rate, much faster that of the AV-8, which Nalls spent most of his military career flying.

It's also a very thirsty bird, guzzling a gallon of fuel every six seconds. It uses 50 gallons just moving from its hangar to the runway at St. Mary's County Airport, Maryland, Nalls said.

Nalls is the first pilot to be civilian and aerobatic rated in Harriers. His flying partner and fellow test pilot, retired USMC Maj. Gen. Joe Anderson, is the second. Anderson and Nalls flew AV-8A Harriers in the famous Ace of Spades Squadron, VMA-231.

Flying demonstration times at Oshkosh 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, it's almost as if time stands still; everyone's head turns toward the flightline.

"It's the most amazing thing," Nalls said. "Merely starting the engine causes people to stop what they're doing."

Nalls said this year his airplane has seen a large spike in demand due to the widespread cancellation of U.S. military aircraft at air shows brought about by the federal budget cutbacks. "Our schedule is full with nine scheduled appearances this year," he said. "Many air shows rely on military airplanes, so we do what we can."

Watch EAA's video shot in 2011 showing what it takes to preflight the Sea Harrier:

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