Dale “Snort” Snodgrass, legendary F-14 Tomcat pilot and skilled airshow performer was reportedly killed on Jul. 24, 2021 in the crash of a SIAI Marchetti SM.1019 in Lewiston, Idaho.
A legendary Naval Aviator has flown west.
Dale “Snort” Snodgrass, legendary F-14 Tomcat pilot and skilled airshow performer, was reportedly killed on Jul. 24, 2021 in the crash of a SIAI Marchetti SM.1019 in Lewiston, Idaho. According to AvWeb, details remain sketchy. The SIAI-Marchetti SM.1019 is an Italian STOL liaison monoplane built by SIAI-Marchetti for the Italian Army, and based on the Cessna O-1 Bird Dog.
Growing up on Long Island, Dale’s dad was a test pilot and gave Snort his Introduction to aviation. As told by Erik Hildebrandt in his book Anytime, Baby! The last Navy F-14 Tomcats, after high school, Dale attended the University of Minnesota where he studied Biology and enrolled in the NAVY ROTC program to become a pilot.
After achieving his B.S. in Biology and successfully completing ROTC training, Snort set a new standard within the naval aviation program by becoming the first flight school graduate to be selected for the newly formed F-14 Tomcat pipeline. In the F-14 RAG he became the first nugget ever to carrier qualify (both night and day). In 1985, the US Navy selected Snort as ‘Fighter Pilot of the Year.” As the best F-14 pilot in 1986, Grumman Aerospace awarded Dale “Topcat of the Year.”
During “Operation Desert Storm,” Snort was CO of VF-33. Leading 34 missions as overall Strike or Fighter Lead in 12 operational Fighter Squadron/Wing tours, he was awarded honors including a Bronze Star for Leadership and Valor. In September 1994 he became Commander of all US Navy F-14 Tomcats for Fighter Wing Atlantic.
In the Navy, Dale accumulated more hours in the F-14 than any other front-seater, and was the “highest time Tomcat pilot,” with over 4800 hours and more than 1200 arrested carrier landings.
Retiring after 26 years as a Naval aviator, Dale “Snort” Snodgrass continued to broaden his cockpit experiences as a warbird pilot. Having flown F-14 demos at airshows for 14 years, he has additionally qualified in the F-86 Sabre, MiG 15, MiG 17, P-51 Mustang, F4U Corsair, Curtiss P-40, T-6 Texan/Harvard and 8KCAB Super Decathlon. Dale has been designated one of only ten USAF Heritage Flight Pilots. Captain Snodgrass has performed in over 850 airshows over the course of 20 years and was surface-solo and formation-aerobatics qualified. Airshow fans loves to watch Date fly his trademark low level banana pass because as some say: “he keeps the grass mowed between the runways.”
Lately Captain Snodgrass served as Draken International’s Chief Pilot, Director of Deployed Operations and Congressional Liaison.
Photo credit: U.S. Navy