There are several places in the UK where you can enjoy a flight experience in this fighter trainer. Harvard flights are available for everyone, no previous flying experience required. You can simply enjoy the flight experience or log it as time on type with an instructor. If you love flying then you’ll love the Harvard.
You may have seen a Harvard fly at airshows or on display in a museum. It’s a two-seat low wing aircraft used to train pilots for combat. It has a large radial engine and makes a disctinctive sound on take off when at full power the tips of the propeller reach a supersonic speed.
Where to book Harvard Flights UK
- Harvard Warbird Flights at in Berkshire – at White Waltham Airfield
- Harvard & Hurricane Experience in Berkshire – at White Waltham Airfield
- Harvard Flights at Duxford airfield in Cambridgeshire
- Harvard & Spitfire Experience at Duxford
- Harvard Flight Experiences at Compton Abbas Airfield in Wiltshire
- Harvard Trial Lessons in Kent and Essex – with Aero Legends in the Harvard T6 that was once in the Haitian Air Force
- Fly in a Harvard at Peterborough, Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, Shropshire, or Durham
With so many still flying a Harvard flight is not the incredibly rare opportunity that it used to be, thanks to the dedicated owners, pilots, and mechanics who keep them flying.
What to expect during a Harvard Flight
As with any trial flying lesson the instructor will give you a thorough pre flight briefing during which you will be told what to expect and some essential details about the aircraft and the flight itself. It’s highly recommended that you pay close attention to this ground briefing as it will all make sense when you’re in the air.
Once in the air you’ll be given the opportunity to take the controls. If you’ve flown in light aircraft before you’ll be able to contrast and compare the lightness of touch needed to fly this iconic aircraft. it’s hard to put into words what a fantastic experience it is to have a trial flight in this fighter trainer.
If a flight in the legendary Spitfire is beyond your budget then a trial lesson in the mighty Harvard is the next best thing for authenticity when it comes to being airborne in a WW2 fighter.
My Harvard Flight Experiences
My two flights in the Harvard were a few years ago now but they are etched in my memory. The first flight was in July 2000 in G-BKRA based at Shoreham Airport and now in the hands of the Real Flying Company. I enjoyed 30 minutes flying over the Sussex countryside. I flew most of it myself under the careful supervision of the instructor pilot.
The second flight was in a G-AZSC, a Harvard Mk IIB based at Goodwood Airfield in West Sussex. This was ten years later in October 2010. This particular aircraft was once owned by the pop star Gary Numan. This particular plane is powered by a Pratt & Whitney R-1340-AN-1 piston engine and was built in 1943.
One of the first things you might notice about this aircraft is that it still has a machine gun fitted to each wing. Once strapped in to the cockpit the first thing that struck me was how the cockpit was devoid of anything except the essential flying controls and dial. There were no frills or unnecessary decor. This is very much a military aircraft with a distinctive smell of what I assumed to be a mixture of the oils, grease, and leather of the interior.
On the first attempt at this flight the instructor took the sensible decision to abort the flight due to a rough running engine discovered during the power checks. Sure enough, a defective spark plug was later discovered and replaced. On the second attempt the flight went ahead and all was well. On this occasion I flew along the south coast from overhead Portsmouth, heading east. The flight lasted a full hour.
The North American Harvard was used by various training units as a basic combat trainer including the Royal Air Force during and just after World War II. Pilots who has perhaps learned to fly on a smaller, lighter aircraft (like the Tiger Moth in the UK or a Boeing Stearman in the USA) would graudate to this advanced trainer. It is a much heavier aircraft and once mastered the pilot would be ready to graduate onto fighter aircraft like the Spitfire.
Armed aircraft were also used in both the Korean War and the Vietnam War, as well as by many other air forces around the world both as a basic trainer and as a combat aircraft.
North American T-6 Texan
The North American T-6 Texan was a single-engine trainer aircraft used by the United States military during World War II. The Texan was first manufactured in 1935 and quickly became one of the most popular training planes in history. More than 15,000 were produced during the war, and the plane remained in service until the 1950s.
The Texan was known for its ruggedness and versatility, and it served as the basis for a number of subsequent military aircraft. Today, the Texan is revered by aviation enthusiasts and continues to be flown by private pilots around the world.
Is it a Texan, Harvard, or SNJ?
The same AT-6 aircraft type was referred to by different military forces using different names:
- North American Harvard – RAF and other British Commonwealth forces (also Yales)
- North American Texan – US Army Air Corps (USAAC)
- North American SNJ – US Navy. You can see an example of this at Compton Abbas Airfield where they have a 1946 SNJ-5 Harvard.
The aircraft was used in a variety of configurations for various purposes:
- AT – Advanced trainer
- BC – Basic combat trainer
- BT – Basic trainer
- SNJ – Scout trainer North American
There are many examples of the T6 Harvard flying today which means that you don’t have to go far to see one in flight or to enjoy a Harvard experience. As well as the USA and the UK there are aircraft of this type all over Europe and some in the Middle East.
North American Aviation Company
North American Aviation was an American aerospace manufacturer, founded in 1928 as a consolidation of several small companies. The company produced a wide variety of aircraft, including bombers, trainers, and fighters.
During World War II, it was one of the largest producers of aircraft for the Allied war effort. After the war, the company shifted its focus to the production of jet-powered aircraft. In 1961, the company merged with Rockwell Standard to form the North American Rockwell Corporation.
The new company continued to produce aircraft for both the civilian and military markets. However, changing market conditions and increasing competition led to financial difficulties, and North American Rockwell was acquired by Boeing in 1967.
Despite its relatively short history, North American Aviation left a lasting mark on the aerospace industry. The company’s innovative products helped to shape the course of aviation history.
Book your Harvard Flight today
Whether you’re already a pilot, a student pilot, or just someone looking for a unique experience, you should book a Harvard flight today. Flights get booked up in the summer months so you may have to wait a few weeks for your turn. Put it in the calendar now.
When the day arrives you’ll be able to take the controls of this fighter trainer and imagine what it must of have been like to train pilots or even go into combat. It’s a fantastic experience and I would recommend it to anyone without hesitation.