Aircraft technology has come a long way during the past half century – but few would deny that the vertical take-off Harrier jump jet developed by Hawker Siddeley during the 1960s remains one of the most impressive and evocative planes ever produced.
And if you jump to it, you could have a Harrier of your very own. Jet Art Aviation of Selby, Yorkshire, the leading UK classic aircraft restorer, is offering a gleaming example with a sweetly running Rolls-Royce Pegasus engine and a fresh coat of paint following a more-than-2,000-hour rebuild.
During its active years, Hawker Harrier GR3 serial number XZ130 saw service in Germany and the Falkland Islands, before being pensioned off in 1990. It was then a technical instruction aircraft for more than 15 years before becoming the “gate guardian” outside the 1034 Surbiton Squadron Air Cadets base in Tolworth, southwest London, where it remained until 2013, before being offered in a sealed-bid sale by the Ministry of Defence.
Jet Art Aviation secured the aircraft and undertook the restoration, which has brought the Harrier to the stage where it starts and runs and could be taxied for display purposes. But because of its complexity, the plane cannot legally be flown in the UK by anyone other than an experienced RAF pilot – with the correct certification, civilians in countries such as the US, South Africa and Australia would be allowed to pilot it.
It is thought to be the first time that a Harrier in such condition has been offered for sale to the general public. A total of 824 Harriers were built or remanufactured between 1967 and 2003. The final 72, owned by the RAF and the Royal Navy, were controversially sold to the US Marine Corps in 2011.
Chris Wilson, managing director of Jet Art Aviation, has not put a specific price on XZ130 due to the difficulty of valuing such a rarely available aircraft – although he does say that offers in the “low hundreds of thousands” will be considered.