The end of Top Gun
The F-14 Tomcats have been retired.
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - The F-14 Tomcat, the dogfighting Cold War fighter jet immortalized in the movie "Top Gun," made its ceremonial final flight Friday in a display that suggested the timing was right for retirement.The 1986 movie Top Gun was the first film I ever watched with my future wife.
Pilot Lt. Cmdr. David Faehnle and radar intercept officer Lt. Cmdr. Robert Gentry gave a final salute from inside their cockpit before aircraft no. 102 taxied down the runway and out of sight at Oceana Naval Air Station.
The plane that actually took off as thousands applauded and whistled, however, was aircraft no. 107, with Lt. Cmdr. Chris Richard at the controls and intercept officer Lt. Mike Petronis in the back seat.
The first jet had mechanical problems — "a common occurrence with the F-14," said Mike Maus, a Navy spokesman. The second jet had been on standby just in case.
"The legacy of this aircraft is not the 'Top Gun' movie," Nathman said. "The legacy is found in America's commitment to win the Cold War."
Built by what was then Grumman Aircraft Corp., the F-14 joined the Navy fleet in 1972 and originally was intended to defend U.S. aircraft carriers from Soviet bombers carrying long-range cruise missiles.
Its dogfighting capabilities were glamorized in the 1986 film "Top Gun," starring Tom Cruise, but the need for such aerial feats dropped steeply when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
The Navy retooled the F-14 as a ground-attack jet, and it dropped bombs over Bosnia and Kosovo in the late 1990s, and helped support ground troops in Iraq as recently as this year.
The jet's replacement is the F/A-18 Super Hornet attack fighter. The Navy's last 22 F-14 aircraft deployed came home to Oceana in March, but one squadron continued to flying the jets until this month.
Yesterday marked the end for a military machine. Like almost all technology, improvements over time made them obsolete. After all how many people play 8-tracks or betamax videos these days.
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