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R.I.P. To the F-14
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R.I.P. To the F-14 - September 22, 2006, 01:16 PM

Quote:
VIRGINIA BEACH — Today the Navy holsters the F-14 Tomcat, the top gun in its Cold War arsenal and one of the most recognizable warplanes in history.

Maintenance costs for the F-14 have soared, and its replacement, the F/A-18 Super Hornet, is more versatile and cheaper to maintain.

The Super Hornet is unlikely to surpass the F-14's following. Furiously fast, deafeningly loud and lethal to enemy aircraft, the Tomcat had attained legendary status by the 1980s. The 1986 film Top Gun, in which Tom Cruise portrayed an F-14 pilot in training, cemented the supersonic warplane's reputation in the popular culture.

"There's something about the way an F-14 looks, something about the way it carries itself," says Adm. Michael Mullen, chief of naval operations, the Navy's top officer. "It screams toughness. Look down on a carrier flight deck and see one of them sitting there, and you just know, there's a fighter plane. I really believe the Tomcat will be remembered in much the same way as other legendary aircraft, like the Corsair, the Mustang and the Spitfire."

The Tomcat was designed in the late 1960s with one enemy in mind: the Soviet Union. The jet was typically launched from an aircraft carrier, and its twin engines could propel it at twice the speed of sound. Its armaments deterred Soviet bombers designed to fire missiles at U.S. Navy ships.

"It was intended to do one thing really well," says John Pike, a military analyst at GlobalSecurity, a think tank based in Alexandria, Va. "The Soviets evidently respected it. Their answer was to build bigger and faster bombers."

After the Soviet Union crumbled in 1991, the F-14 was something of a stray cat. It had no real enemy in a world with one superpower. Eventually, the Navy armed it with precision bombs and targeting systems and added attack missions to its résumé.

Tomcats, with their two-member crews of a pilot and a backseat radar officer, flew missions in Desert Storm, in the Balkans and, until February, in Iraq.

"The Tomcat has been a dogfighter, an interceptor, a reconnaissance platform, even a bomber — whatever the Navy needed it to do," Mullen says.

Pike calls it "a crowning achievement of 20th-century aviation."

After today's ceremony, the Navy will mothball some F-14s in the Arizona desert and ship others to aviation museums.

A monument at Oceana Naval Air Station will be dedicated to the 69 Tomcat crewmembers killed while flying the jet, says retired rear admiral Fred Lewis, chairman of the Tomcat Sunset Committee, a non-profit group established to organize farewell ceremonies for the F-14.

"That's the risk we all accepted when we flew the plane," Lewis says.

The only other country flying F-14s after today will be Iran, Pike says. Starved for spare parts, the Iranians struggle to keep the jets in flight.

Smuggled parts will be even harder to come by after the Navy retires the Tomcat.

"Nobody will be sorrier to see them go than the ayatollahs," Pike says.

Cmdr. Curt Seth will miss them, too. He runs his hand across his F-14's aluminum skin, ducks down to examine its landing gear, pats a wing and stands back for a full view of his Tomcat fighter before one of its final flights this week.

"It's the only plane that looks fast sitting still," says Seth, 41, whose call sign "Opie" fits his freckled face and sandy hair.

The aging Tomcat requires 40 or more hours of maintenance for a single hour of flight, says Seth, executive officer for the "Tomcatters" of Fighter Squadron 31. The Super Hornet requires less than half that maintenance time.

It may be old and expensive, but the Tomcat hasn't lost a step.

"The F/A-18 is like a Porsche; it handles really well," Seth says. "The F-14 is like a Corvette, a muscle car. It just has tremendous power. It's just a fun plane to fly."

And it's fast. Minutes after it roars down the runway and takes off from Oceana Naval Air Station, the Tomcat is over the open ocean and in airspace restricted for military aircraft.

Quickly, smoothly and quietly — at least inside the cockpit — the Tomcat breaks the sound barrier.

"It's not like it was in Chuck Yeager's day anymore," says Seth, referring to the venerable test pilot who was the first in the world to fly at supersonic speed in 1947.

"Ten or 11 miles per minute," Seth says. "That's pretty quick."

For all its speed, the F-14 is remarkably nimble. It's capable of razor-sharp, stomach-churning banks, climbs, rolls and dives. Seth happily demonstrates.

All the while — whether upside down or plastered to his seat by forces several times that of gravity — Seth chats matter of factly.

"That's 4½ Gs," he says of the gravitational pull that makes your arms feel like they're encased in wet cement.

Back on the ground, Seth turns wistful.

"It's a great airplane," he says. "The Tomcat is going


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September 22, 2006, 01:27 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJAUz0qM0K8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDfrAqsE6_o


RIP F-14

Enjoy your walk into the sunset...



U
C
Lots of
Asians

Last edited by YaoMatt; September 22, 2006 at 01:35 PM..
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September 22, 2006, 01:30 PM

ILY Tom Cruise.

You can be my wingman anyday

Iceman, Out.


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If you get mad when I type, do us both a favor.

Some recent rep I have been given:
-U-R-Gay (unsigned)
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September 22, 2006, 01:41 PM

Fare thee well, ole gal. You served respectfully and magnificantly. RIP


R.I.P. Eric "TheIrishGuy"

"Will you carry me down the aisle that final day
With your tears and cold hands shaking from the weight
When you lower me down beneath that sky of gray
Let the rain fall down and wash away your pain"


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September 22, 2006, 01:54 PM

that was a sweet jet


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i needs stock stuff.
 
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September 22, 2006, 02:37 PM

yea right.. that thing is a pos! freaking pontoon boat with wings.

i had to help navy fix one before when a lt mlg strut blew.. gay
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Retired to most ...
 
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September 22, 2006, 03:06 PM

Insert Top Gun Theme here ........

R.I.P


God Speed Jeff! You'll never be forgotten.

BOOSTZX3 : in all seriousness head injuries ain't no joke. I've had around 10 concussions and now I ride a Buell Don't let it happen to you!
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September 22, 2006, 03:09 PM

in comes the new F-35, the program I work on.


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September 22, 2006, 03:16 PM

One of my favorite sounds in the world, gone...
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September 22, 2006, 03:34 PM

I <3 jet noise

The one thing I miss about the Newport News area is jet noise. I remember the days of running around outside and seeing one of two planes flying around - F-14s out of Oceana or F-15s out of Langley. I guess in the coming years that'll change to F-22s and F-35s. Although the F-35 just doesn't rub me the way the F-14 did, but I hella <3 the F-22.
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September 22, 2006, 03:54 PM

What a pity...such a beautiful aircraft..The old girl's aged well.


~ John ~

Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, and the lesson afterwards

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September 22, 2006, 04:21 PM

TAPS
Attached Images
File Type: jpg f14.jpg (12.3 KB, 13 views)


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September 22, 2006, 06:10 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by DRAGULA
TAPS
Do you know what that photo is from? Kinda ironic that it get posted in this thread.


God Speed Jeff! You'll never be forgotten.

BOOSTZX3 : in all seriousness head injuries ain't no joke. I've had around 10 concussions and now I ride a Buell Don't let it happen to you!
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September 22, 2006, 06:28 PM

Maybe I should break out my old USS Enterprise shots. Lots of F-14 action and some bomb dropping in the indian ocean.


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September 22, 2006, 06:42 PM

No I dont


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