On the morning of October 4 2006 the last flying Tomcat left NAS Oceana on a short journey to Republic Airport in Farmingdale Long island. Earlier that year, the Grumman Corporation had requested a Tomcat to become a gate guard outside their Bethpage plant. The US Navy provided an F-14D Tomcat from the VF-31 Tomcatters – “Felix 101”, BU no 164603.
The Tomcat was flown in by pilot LCDR Chris “Limp” Richard, and RIO LCDR “Fitz” Gentry. After taxiing up and down runway 14/32 they brought the big fighter up to the American Airpower Museum and ran the engines till the fuel tanks emptied. The mighty General Electric F110-GE-400 turbofans fell silent for the last time.
After a formal ceremony handing over the plane to the Grumman representatives, we got a chance to walk around the jet and talk with the crew. I wanted to take us many detailed photos as possible to document the occasion of the last flying Tomcat. Having seen this jet previously flying in airshows, it was awesome to walk all around and examine it closely.
In the days to come, Felix 101 was demilitarized – the engines, ejection seats, avionics etc.. were removed so as not to fall into the wrong hands. It then spent some time around the museum until Grumman had it’s display area ready. Having entered service in May 1992, it seemed far too early to retire such a capable fighter.
Pic and article written by Isaac Lebowitz