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Boys with bigger toys make more noise.
March 26, 2008 12:18 AM   Subscribe

Two Weeks Till Takeoff. The oldest, and only civilian owned Sea Harrier jump jet gets drafted for the air show circuit, after minor problems.

Owner/pilot Art Nall discusses handling a primary hydraulic system failure combined with a nose gear collapse on his first Harrier flight in 16 years.
posted by paulsc (28 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
The third link is a laconic quote fest for aviation buffs.
"... Nalls, who used to be a Harrier maintenance officer, knows that the Harrier won’t be as maintenance-free as his L-39, but he predicts it shouldn’t be as bad as a WWII bomber. Jet engines, he said, are simple, consisting of “a steel tube, a shaft, 10,000 razor blades all spinning in the same direction with a fire in the middle.” Not much maintenance is needed if air and fuel flows properly into the engine and no birds and debris are ingested. ..."
posted by paulsc at 12:23 AM on March 26, 2008


But will it take off from a moving conveyor belt?
posted by dersins at 12:38 AM on March 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


"But will it take off from a moving conveyor belt?"
posted by dersins at 3:38 AM on March 26

Maybe.
"For takeoff, if conditions are right, the Harrier can leap into the air vertically. But taking off horizontally is more efficient, and for every foot of roll the Harrier can carry an extra 56 pounds of fuel or payload."
posted by paulsc at 12:47 AM on March 26, 2008


Maybe.
Obviously.
posted by matthewr at 12:52 AM on March 26, 2008


Harriers are awesome. Warthogs and Prowlers are cool too. But V/STOL is definitely cool.
posted by gen at 12:55 AM on March 26, 2008


This guys and his crew are full of awesome. I have a certain sense of what it's like, having once been on the crew that maintained and repaired a 1922 Alco steam locomotive. It's got to be a labor of love, because no one who's sane would ever go near a project like this.
posted by pjern at 1:27 AM on March 26, 2008


Yeah, that's nice and all, but when FANTASY-LAND FALLS INTO CRISIS!, that dinky little Sea Harrier just won't do...
posted by Rhaomi at 2:38 AM on March 26, 2008


harriers are awesone, no doubt, but that thing can seriously destroy storefront windows with its takeoff blast and maintaining a turbine is not nearly as uncomplicated as he makes it sound. check out this walkaround of an aerospaciale gazelle (youtube) to get an idea. also: he has to use military JP-8 fuel, which is not only going to be difficult for a civilian to obtain but also expensive, if he doesn't want to shorten the turbines lifespan (I am being told A-1 fuel is similar but not the same).
posted by krautland at 2:49 AM on March 26, 2008


It's not the only civilian owned Harrier. I for one keep several in a cave for when the Psychlos invade Earth. I handily also possess a simulator so that plucky cavemen-a-likes can learn to fly them (even though apparently they were not a lot of use during the original invasion...)
posted by longbaugh at 3:59 AM on March 26, 2008


There's one helluva expensive hobby for you. The Harrier burns fuel at 32 gallons a minute, and according to this, jet fuel is currently running about $3.08 per gallon. Add that to the cost of the plane, maintenance, parts, and insurance (who the hell would insure a Harrier?), and you're talking real money.

Yes, I'm envious. Flying that plane must be such a rush, and knowing it belongs to you would only enhance that feeling.
posted by SteveInMaine at 5:48 AM on March 26, 2008


MetaFilter: 10,000 razor blades all spinning in the same direction with a fire in the middle.

Because someone had to do it.
posted by Mister_A at 6:28 AM on March 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


That is just so rad. Great post, paulsc.
posted by saladin at 8:49 AM on March 26, 2008


Odd... the second link keeps crashing my firefox.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 9:00 AM on March 26, 2008


Harriers are awesome. Warthogs and Prowlers are cool too. But V/STOL is definitely cool.

Really. It just rises off the ground and takes off. Sure, it's inefficient, but no one said the price of awesome was zero.
posted by tommasz at 9:38 AM on March 26, 2008


Kewl.

I like Nall's quote about "makes you pucker.."
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:35 AM on March 26, 2008


I want to have the money to involve myself in a labor of love like this. But I think I would end up getting an old P-40k or something.

But then, I wouldn't have the V/STOL... Ok if money isn't an object, I'm thinking P-40k, with RATO packs under the wings.

And since piston driven engines don't work so well at Mach 3, I want to replace the Rolls-Royce Merlin with some kind of ramjet as a second stage boost.

Yeah, that will bring them into my airshow. And not just for the fiery crash at the end... Well, ok. Mostly for the crash. But I bet the sounds it would make just before I went down would be pretty awesome as well.
posted by quin at 10:54 AM on March 26, 2008


I was hoping, before reading the post, that this guy that owns the *only* civilian harrier had managed to drink tons and tons of Pepsi a few years ago, and actually ended up getting his prize. I'm sorely disappointed.
posted by LionIndex at 11:46 AM on March 26, 2008


The biggest problem is getting Mike Toreno to train that street kid CJ how to fly it out at Verdant Meadows.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:57 PM on March 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: no one said the price of awesome was zero.
posted by Chuckles at 2:14 PM on March 26, 2008


One of those cases was reattaching the Harrier's wing, which arrived from the U.K. separately from its fuselage. It's secured with six very specialized bolts, three on each side. Nalls said they managed to line up four of them, but two refused to lock in place. The Marine Corps volunteers who came in suggested a tried-and-true way to do it, said Nalls: "They said, 'This is the way you do it. You get somebody with a big butt, and you have them sit out on the wing tip and bounce up and down.'" Once they had two guys out on the wing tip, bouncing slightly, they were able to tap the bolts right into place. "We had played with these things for hours, not wanting to hit them very hard," he said. "It was just the tricks of the trade that these guys knew that made it absolutely simple."
(from the first link)
posted by Chuckles at 2:20 PM on March 26, 2008


All these stories about hard to find parts, and they missed the best one! The skyhook always was a crazy idea - crazy awesome, that is. 20 years later Art Nalls makes a call, and it is ready to serve again.
posted by Chuckles at 2:37 PM on March 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Great skyhook links, Chuckles!
posted by paulsc at 3:19 PM on March 26, 2008


I remember how well the Harriers did in the Falklands war against F-15s, a much faster plane. It pretty much suprised the experts and gave new life to a plane many had written off.

All the speed of an F-15 doesn't help you when you are chasing a plane, and it decides to just about stop in midair, forcing you to go flying by and become an easy target.

I wish them lots and lots of luck.
posted by eye of newt at 10:53 PM on March 26, 2008


There were F-15s in the Falklands?
posted by matthewr at 12:31 AM on March 27, 2008


Argentine Air Power in the Falklands War:
Fuerza Aerea Argentina (FAA) was the country’s large, relatively modern, and capable air force, particularly when compared to the militaries of most midsized powers. The FAA possessed some frontline aircraft equal to any in the world—including Mirage III interceptors. During the previous decade, they had acquired Israeli-made Mirage 5 fighters (called Daggers), which can operate at Mach 2 and are effective in both the air-to-air and strike roles. The naval air arm was in the process of acquiring a squadron of Super Etendard fighters from France. The primary attack aircraft of both the FAA and navy were several dozen A-4 Skyhawks that had been bought as surplus from the US Navy in 1972. The A-4s were old (built in the 1960s) but still very capable. In 1982 they were still used by many air forces (including the US Marine Corps) and were appreciated for their agility, toughness, and accuracy as dive-bombers. The latter was important. Unlike their British opponents, the Argentinians had no precision-guided bomb capability and required skilled pilots and accurate aircraft to hit targets with their “dumb bombs.”4

The FAA also possessed eight old Canberra bombers, a small transport force, and several squadrons of IA-58 Pucaras. The Pucara was the pride of the Argentine aircraft industry—designed and manufactured in Argentina. It was a twin-engine turboprop attack aircraft built for counterinsurgency work. It could mount a 30 mm cannon and carry a variety of bombs. It was slow but rugged and had the advantage of being able to operate from small, rough airstrips. The naval air arm also had some Aermacchi 339 jet trainers––small aircraft that could be configured as light strike fighters. The pilots of both the FAA and naval air arm were well trained, and the two services had good base infrastructure and maintenance capabilities that could effectively repair and maintain the aircraft.5
posted by Chuckles at 1:29 AM on March 27, 2008


My mistake based on faulty memory and lack of corrective research on my part.

(noise of chair moving back) I stand corrected.
posted by eye of newt at 8:05 AM on March 27, 2008


Trying to read up a bit on Harriers in air combat, I cam across this story.
posted by Chuckles at 9:35 AM on March 27, 2008


When do these show up at the local Arms-R-Us?

Seriously. Larry Ellison has to be incredibly jealous
posted by Leon-arto at 1:06 AM on April 12, 2008


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