One of the best-known warbirds in the world, thanks to the movie Top Gun, the F-14 Tomcat will be enshrined at the Cradle of Aviation museum. This particular aircraft is the last F-14 to fly and is a real prize for the museum which prides itself as the locus of aircraft history in Long Island.
Long Island is known as the cradle of aviation for a multitude of reasons not the least of which is the airplanes and spacecraft designed and built by Grumman in the 20th century. Some of the most important moments in American aviation history had their roots right here on Long Island.
The Cradle of Aviation museum website says; “The F-14’s first flight was on December 21, 1970, at Calverton, New York. The first Tomcats deployed with Navy training squadron VF-124 on October 8, 1972, at NAS Miramar, California. The Tomcat had a crew of two; the Pilot and the Radar Intercept Officer who operates the AWG-9 weapons control system. The F-14 has visual and all-weather attack capability to deliver ordnance in the air-to-air role. It can detect hostile aircraft at ranges over 100 miles and has the ability to launch missiles at six different targets at once.”
The transfer to the museum was set to take place this summer but the plans were pushed back, according to Joshua Stoff, Curator of the museum. He said that the museum is also constructing a concrete platform and security chains for the fighter jet but that was delayed as well.
They still hope that the move can be done this fall. Stoff said that Northrop Grumman was handling all the logistics of the F-14’s transfer to the museum.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the aircraft. The first test flight of the F-14 was here on Long Island at Grumman’s flight test center in Calverton. This particular F-14 made its final flight in the fall of 2006.
The Tomcat is described at one of the finest fighter jets ever developed and probably one of the most famous due to its star turn in the 1980s classic Top Gun. Over 700 of the fighters were built in the Grumman plant in Calverton.
A complex and effective fighter jet, the F-14 was in service for the U.S. Navy from the early 1970s until 2006 when it was retired. Before the F-14, Grumman’s superiority in U.S. military airpower had long been established with its Hellcat and Wildcat, both contributing to the Pacific theater during WWII.
Hangar 2 at the Cradle of Aviation museum is the home of several aircraft exhibits including an older model of the F-14 Hellcat shown above.