On Wednesday, October 26, the Museum hosted a brief outdoor viewing to unveil the work done to restore the F-14D Tomcat currently stored in the museum’s restoration hangar. Before its move to the Museum in June 2022, the jet- Felix 101, F-14D BuNo 164603 has been parked outside the former Grumman Corporation offices in Bethpage, NY, since 2008 when Grumman’s successor, Northrop Grumman Corp., and the Grumman Retiree Club, created a monument. Said Cradle of Aviation Museum President Andy Parton, “It makes perfect sense for the plane to be at the Cradle. … We are the keeper of the legacy of Grumman.” Since June, restoration work on the aircraft has been underway. Joshua Stoff, Curator at the Museum, said: “that work has included sanding, patching holes, paint/primer application, and applying new paint and markings.”
Tools, transportation materials, and labor for the F-14 restoration project were all donated by Northrop Grumman and have come at no cost to the Cradle of Aviation Museum. The museum plans to mount the completed aircraft on Charles Lindbergh Boulevard at the entrance to the museum in spring 2023. The plane is the 711th of the 712 F-14s built by Grumman on Long Island in the 1980s and 1990s.
The museum is already home to the third F-14 ever built. That plane, a pre-production model, was “primarily used for determining structural loads and flight characteristics under extreme conditions” at Grumman’s Calverton facility, according to the museum’s website. The plane is on display in the Cradle’s Hangar 2 Jet Gallery. Stoff added, “We have the oldest F-14 that survives, and the one coming in is the last American F-14 to fly. So, we will have the first and the last, which is kind of unique,” he said.
An F-14 Tomcat was featured in the 1986 movie “Top Gun,” starring Tom Cruise. A sequel, “Top Gun: Maverick.” The Cradle of Aviation Museum is home to one of the largest collections of air and spacecraft in the world, arranged in eight galleries that take you through over 100 years of air and space history. The museum is also home to Long Island’s only Giant Screen Dome Theater.
The Cradle is located at Charles Lindbergh Blvd. on Museum Row in Garden City. For more information, please call 516-572-4111 or visit their website at www.cradleofaviation.org