First Private Harrier Takes Flight
What is likely the first civilian Harrier jump jet reportedly had its first flight in private hands at St. Mary’s County Airport in Maryland on Saturday. Owner Art Nalls reportedly decided not to shatter any neighbors’ nerves (not to mention their windows) and made his first takeoff and landing in the ex-Royal Navy Harrier FA2 short-field, rather than vertical. "The Harrier left the runway at less than the half way point of 2W6," Dave Baden, who saw the flight, told AVweb. "Roughly 2000 feet of runway was used for the takeoff. Landing was very similar with a roll-on landing that could have easily used less than half the runway but Art took it to the end anyway." Just what he plans to do with the notoriously (some say gloriously) loud VTOL aircraft isn’t clear but there’s not much doubt he’s comfortable in the cockpit. Nalls is a former Marine test pilot who spent most of his career on the American version of the aircraft, the AV-8A and AV-8B. In addition to his hundreds of hours in relatively normal flight, Nalls was also the test pilot for an in-flight engine restart program during which he amassed six hours of gliding experience in an aircraft not known for its glide ratio.