Let the Shows Begin!

What’s hot on this summer’s airshow circuit.

At Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, Hugh Schoelzel channels Louis Blériot in the nation’s oldest flying aircraft. (Gilles Auliard)
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Bone Is the New Black
Boeing (Rockwell) B-1B Lancer

Rumor has it that the B-1 got its insider nickname, Bone, from a newspaper story that spelled out its designation as “B-One.” What is known for certain is that all the cool kids prefer Bone to the official Air Force name, “Lancer.” Designed as a long-range strategic nuclear bomber and declared operational in 1986, the variable-sweep B-1B was converted to a conventional bomber at the end of the cold war. With its wings swept, the Bone can reach 900 mph at sea level, but over most locales such fly-bys are forbidden because they cause sonic booms. But even when it’s just sitting on the ramp, the elegant matte-black B-1B is a real eyeful.

  • Dyess Big Country Airfest, Dyess Air Force Base, Abilene, Texas, May 1 Static display and flybys
  • SkyFest 2010, Fairchils Air Force Base, Spokane, Washington, July 24 and 25, Static display

Jumping Jet Flash
BAE Systems FA2 Sea Harrier

The prototype of the Harrier jump jet, the Hawker P.1127, debuted in 1960 in the United Kingdom, and the United States soon jumped in with both feet: By the early 1970s, the vertical-takeoff-and-landing Harrier was flying with the Royal Air Force and the U.S. Marine Corps. (The Marine Corps always gets the divas: the Corsair, the Harrier, the Osprey.) McDonnell Douglas teamed with British Aerospace to produce the upgraded AV-8B Harrier II, which has been operating since 1985.

When some Harriers reached retirement age, a U.S. civilian decided he had to have his very own diva. The vertical-takeoff-and-landing Sea Harrier, a British naval version of the Hawker Siddeley

Harrier GR1, is best known for its performance in the 1982 Falklands War with Argentina. The Royal Navy retired the aircraft in 2006, whereupon Art Nalls, who had logged 1,800 hours in U.S. Marine Corps Harrier AV-8As and Bs, bought one through an aircraft broker working with the British Ministry of Defence. The 120-decibel (chainsaw-loud) jet made its civilian debut in October 2008, and flew six shows in 2009. Nalls told one of the airshows where he demonstrates the airplane that he needs money to help cover costs such as fuel—the airplane burns nearly two gallons per mile. “They gave me a set of Legos last year,” he says, “and it’s the thought that counts.”

Art Nalls and his Sea Harrier will appear at:

  • Wings Over Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Sept. 11
  • Culpeper AirFest, Brandy Station, Virginia, Oct. 9

The Marine Corps demonstrates its AV-8B Harrier at the following shows:

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