Instead of retiring, former test pilot and real estate mogul Art Nalls imported, restored, certified and flew the world’s only private Harrier jump jet. Now he’s a man with a mission, adding to his fleet, he wants to preserve the Harrier’s legacy for decades to come.
His amazing story is told in this awesome mini documentary from AARP studios:
Art’s Harrier is an ex-Royal Navy Sea Harrier FA2. The Sea Harrier gained fame during the Falklands War, and continued to serve throughout the 1980s and 1990s, when it received the Blue Vixen radar and the ability to fire the AIM-120 AMRAAM. This made the jet a relatively poor fighter but an outstanding interceptor and fleet defense fighter. It was retired (many say prematurely) from the Royal Navy back 2006, and with its retirement gave Nulls an opportunity to own the previously impossible, his own Harrier.
The idea came from attending an air show long after being retired from the Marine Corps and finding wealth in the Washington DC real estate marketplace. He fell back in love with the idea of zooming through the air in a high-performance aircraft. His first stop along the way was buying a Yak-3, a high-performance WWII fighter, but this was not enough to satisfy Art’s thirst for thrust.
He decided to see if he could obtain a surplus Sea Harrier from the UK, and there was one available, although it would have to be demilitarized and refurbished for flight. Seeing that he was a highly accomplished Harrier and test pilot, the FAA gave him the ok to operate the Harrier and Art has been flying at air shows in his beloved Sea Harrier ever since.
Although the costs of operating the jet are crushing, as the Harrier can drink a gallon of gas every six seconds, he relies of sponsors for air shows to help pick up the tab. Now, his fleet is growing as he recently got his hands on another Harrier from the UK, but this one was an ultra-rare two-seat TAV-8, which will allow him to teach other pilots how to fly the Harrier and even possibly take people for rides.
He does not want to stop there, with the idea of procuring more Harriers and spare parts in the future, which will allow his vision to preserve the Harrier and its crews legacy for future generations. A relevant idea as the Harrier could very well disappear from the skies in the coming decades, with the USMC betting huge on its F-35B replacement for the legendary jump jet.
Contact the author at Tyler@jalopnik.com.