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Aviation

Good Night, Tomcats

Jack Dorsey writes for the Virginian-Pilot about the last flight of the US Navy’s F-14’s as they departed the USS Theodore Roosevelt and flew into naval aviation history. The New York Times this Sunday carried the AP story:

Bruce Doyle, a 63-year-old retired radar intercept officer, was also sad to see the Tomcats go. He belonged to one of the first squadrons to fly F-14’s, which the Navy first received in 1972, and he said he flew in an F-14 during the evacuation of Saigon in the Vietnam War.

“I was there for the first ones and I wanted to come be here for the last ones,” Mr. Doyle said at Friday’s homecoming. “It’s an awesome airplane with capabilities that are mind-blowing.”

I’ll never forget the first time I saw an F-14 do a demonstration – sometime in the mid-70’s at Patuxent River Naval Air Station. This particular F-14 came in from the right at high speed, slowing and bringing its wings forward while rolling into a knife edge 360 degree turn to the right. The small radius in which he performed this maneuver was just amazing. As he rounded the 270 degree position on the circle, the wings started sliding back from full forward to full aft position, followed by lighting full afterburners just as he completed the circle. Up, and he was gone. Such a combination of finesse and power it was.

Still takes my breath away remembering that performance! The F-14 served us very well – very well, indeed. Kudos to all those Naval Aviators who had the opportunity to fly such an amazing airplane!

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