Felix 101, F-14D BuNo 164603, the last Tomcat in US Navy service, currently in front of a vacant office building in Bethpage will be moved to the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Uniondale.
Felix 101, F-14D BuNo 164603, the last Tomcat in US Navy service, currently in front of a vacant office building in Bethpage will be moved to the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Uniondale, Newsday reports.
The F-14’s fate had been uncertain after a California company, Prologis Inc., agreed to purchase the former Grumman Corp. office and surrounding land for a proposed 218,150 square foot warehouse.
According to Alert 5, the company is seeking property-tax breaks and a sales-tax exemption from the county. However, the Industrial Development Agency could not vote on the package of tax-aid until a new location for the Tomcat is determined.
Northrup Grumman will be helping to pay for and support the relocation.
F-14D BuNo 164603 has been parked at 600 Grumman Rd. West since 2008 when Grumman’s successor, Northrop Grumman Corp., and the Grumman Retiree Club, a former employees group, created a monument.
The plane is the 711th of the 712 F-14s built by Grumman on Long Island in the 1980s and 1990s.
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.
As we have already reported the Cradle of Aviation Museum’s 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.
U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Randall Damm