The world’s only privately-owned flying BAE Sea Harrier F/A2 has recently been confirmed to appear at AirVenture Oshkosh 2013. Last appearing at Oshkosh in 2010, the jump jet has seen increased demand for air show appearances due to the widespread cancellation of U.S. military aircraft scheduled at air shows brought about by the sequester, which has filled the plane’s calendar.
The plane is anticipated to arrive in Oshkosh on the Saturday or Sunday before the show and will make several flying demonstrations before it leaves on August 1st. The plane, an Ex-Royal Navy craft is the second FA/2 production Harrier ever produced and the oldest surviving. It was bought in 2006 by Art Nalls who had extensive experience flying American Harriers from his time in the Marines. 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.
The American AV-8A and AV-8B Harriers are built for different roles than the British Sea Harrier, so while the variants all share the ability for vertical/short takeoff and landing, the Sea Harrier was designed for air to air combat whereas the AV-8s were designed to air-to-ground and troop support. As such, 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.
Regardless of the minutia that separates the various iterations of Harrier Jump Jets, one thing they all have in common is their popularity with air show crowds, and Nalls Aviation has a carefully choreographed program that shows the jets unique attributes to great effect, making the plane the star of every show at which it performs.
Nalls puts his Harrier through its paces at Culpepper in 2012: