EAA AVIATION CENTER, OSHKOSH, Wis. - (April 13, 2010) - The world's only civilian-flown Harrier jump jet will make its Oshkosh debut this year as it appears and flies at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2010, "The World's Greatest Aviation Celebration." The 58th edition of EAA's annual fly-in convention will be held July 26-August 1 at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh.
The BAE Sea Harrier F/A2, owned and flown by retired U.S. Marine test pilot Art Nalls, is scheduled to arrive at Oshkosh on Sunday, July 25, the day before opening day, then make several flying demonstrations throughout the week.
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, according to Nalls, and at 31 years old, the oldest surviving one.
"AirVenture attendees have seen numerous U.S.-built AV-8A and AV-8B Harriers demonstrate the type's unique vertical/short take-off and landing (V/STOL) abilities, but this will be the first British Sea Harrier to appear," said Tom Poberezny, EAA chairman/president and AirVenture chairman.
The Sea Harrier is a fighter aircraft designed to shoot down enemy aircraft, according to Nalls, 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 climb rate much faster than the AV-8, which Nalls spent most of his military career flying. In 1980, this Sea Harrier also made the first trial of the "ski-jump" takeoff technique, which was a critical element in the Falklands campaign of 1982.
Nalls and his flying partner, retired Marines Maj. Gen. Joe Anderson, are the first two civilian pilots to be rated for aerobatic flight in Harriers. The pair has known each other for 25 years and flew AV-8A Harriers in the U.S. Marines' 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.
Exact flying demonstration times at Oshkosh have yet to be finalized for this aircraft, but will be announced when confirmed. When not flying, the aircraft will be on static display on AirVenture's showcase AeroShell Square. For more information visit www.airventure.org.