Taken on Nov. 28, 1973 the video in this post features a Grumman F-14A Tomcat belonging to the “Gunfighters” of Fighter Squadron 124 (VF-124) landing without its port wheel at Naval Air Station (NAS) Miramar.
Charlie Askins, who worked for Grumman Aerospace Corporation, explains in a comment appeared on Where have all the Tomcats gone Facebook Group:
‘The pilot of this F-14 at this time was Ltjg Jack Snyder. The wheel fell off during takeoff, he went out over the water and dumped down his fuel, came back to land on the emergency runway after they sprayed foam on it, he didn’t like his position on the runway and took back off and made a great landing. The axel was ground down about 2/3s it’s normal diameter, and the plane was back in the air a month later after replacing the whole strut.’
Fighter Squadron 124 (VF-124) was a fleet replacement squadron of the US Navy. Known as the Gunfighters, they were active from 1958 through 1994. The squadron’s task was the training of pilots for the F-8 Crusader and later the F-14 Tomcat.
In 1970 VF-124 became the Pacific Fleet training squadron for the then new F-14 Tomcat. According to Navy.TogetherWeServed.com, VF-124 stopped training F-8 pilots in August 1972 and responsibility for the small number F-8’s left was handed over to VFP-63. VF-124 received their first F-14A’s on Oct. 8, 1972. A few days later the two first active fleet F-14 squadrons, VF-1 and VF-2 were commissioned. In December 1973, US Marine Corps officers reported to VF-124 to start training as instructors. USMC involvement continued until 1976 when it was decided that the F-14 was too expensive for the USMC to operate. The first set of replacements pilots trained by VF-124 took to sea in December 1974, flying day and night carrier qualifications of the deck of USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63).
In 1976 personnel from the Imperial Iranian Air Force arrived to begin training on the F-14 until the overthrow of the Shah three years later. As a new decade began the role of reconnaissance was introduced to the F-14 with the TARPS pod. VF-124 began to teach air and ground crews how to operate the pod. By December 1988 VF-124 had trained 1502 aircrew, over 14.400 maintenance personnel and flown over 153,193 flight hours and VF-124 also achieved 124 days without any Foreign Object Damage.
With the introduction of the improved F-14D Super Tomcat, VF-124 was assigned the role of training air and ground personnel on the new aircraft and the first F-14D was accepted on Nov. 16, 1990, with four aircraft undertaking the first fleet F-14D carrier qualifications on board the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) on Oct. 2, 1991.
On Mar. 11, 1993 a VF-124 F-14 made the final landing on USS Ranger (CVA-61), Lieutenant Mark A. Garcia and Lieutenant Tim Taylor completed the carrier’s 330,683rd landing. With the downsizing of the F-14 squadrons in the early 1990s the Navy’s training squadrons were reduced and VF-124 was disestablished in September 1994 and the responsibility of all F-14 training went to VF-101. VF-124 would operate the F-14A Tomcat and the F-14D Super Tomcat as all F-14B Tomcat were flown by the Atlantic Fleet Squadrons.
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