The museum will receive for restoration and permanent display the last F-14 (BuNo 164603) to ever fly, number 711 of 712 made, from the Grumman Memorial Park in Bethpage.
The Cradle of Aviation Museum (which is currently closed due to Covid crisis), Garden City, Long Island, NY, is set to continue the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the F-14 Tomcat, one of the most iconic Navy fighters ever built on Long Island, once the Coronavirus pandemics will be over. While Hollywood may have cemented the F-14 in the public eye with movies like “Top Gun,” it was Grumman engineers on Long Island that designed and built the famous aircraft.
According to Patch.com in fact, the Cradle of Aviation is expanding its already robust F-14 collection to honor the 50th anniversary of one of the most beautiful fighter jets ever built. The collection already includes the third F-14 ever built and the oldest surviving, flying from 1971-1990, and two F-14 cockpits, nose and flight suits. To enhance the collection in honor of the anniversary, a temporary exhibit was opened in February with never-before-seen artifacts taken out of storage, such as concept models and photographs. Objects are scheduled to be on display until December 2020.
The museum will also receive for restoration and permanent display the last F-14 (BuNo 164603) to ever fly, number 711 of 712 made, from the Grumman Memorial Park in Bethpage.
As told by Tony Holmes in his book F-14 Tomcat Units of Operation Enduring Freedom, F-14D 164603 was first delivered on May 29, 1992 at NAS Miramar to VF-124 Gunfighters, the West Coast Tomcat Fleet RAG (the Replacement Air Group, the naval training squadron for a specific aircraft), and subsequently became one of the first D-model aircraft assigned to VF-2 in June of the following year.
Transferred to VF-213 in late 1997, the jet remained with the ‘Black Lions’ until passed on to VF-101 in early 2002. However, while with VF-213 this Tomcat led the first manned strike of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), when F-14s and F/A-18s from CVW-11 hit an SA-3 SAM battery, and its attendant target acquisition and guidance radars, near Kabul’s international airport on Oct. 7, 2001.
BuNo 164603 returned to the fleet in the summer of 2003 when the aircraft was sent to VF-31 and soon became its ‘Felix 101’ jet. Completing a further two cruises with the unit, the Tomcat had the distinction of making the final flight by a Navy F-14 on Oct. 4, 2006 when it flew from NAS Oceana to Republic Airport, in Farmingdale, New York.
In addition to the exhibit, the museum will host a dinner on Aug. 21 at 6, followed by a discussion with distinguished guests to be determined. More information about the F-14 transport and dinner will be provided as the celebration unfolds.
Photo credit: Photographer’s Mate Airman Dale Miller / U.S. Navy