The Last Tomcat Cruise

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The Atlantic Ocean, near the coast of Florida. One loud “bang” and the C-2A Greyhound catches one of the cables to land on the aircraft carrier “Theodore Roosevelt”. We leave the plane, a dream has become true; we’re on board CVN-71 for 24 hours  to capture the last Tomcats on their last cruise. After 30 years of duty the Tomcat will be replaced by the FA-18E/F Super Hornet. It is all set for the end of 2005, and this is one date that all Tomcat fans will keep in their memories.  The F-14Ds of the United States Navy will go on their last cruise with CVW-8. The 20 Tomcats will be deployed to the Persian Gulf and stay there for six months.

The aircraft were prepared for this tour at NAS Oceana; aircraft came from both VF-101 and VF-2. The” best” 20 aircraft remaining were chosen. After they return from the cruise, they’ll be flown to the boneyard at Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ. After that, the current VF-31 and VF-213 squadrons will be renamed as VFA-31 and VFA-231, and will get FA-18F Super Hornets.

For the last cruise, we were expecting some special paint schemes. But it is only “213” of VF-213 which retained the colors of old times. The “101” of VF-31 received a red tail and black radome, but kept the standard gray Navy colors. The movie Top Gun helped make the F-14 Tomcat  a household name, but it’s performance made it a legend. An iconic aircraft that everyone loves.  When this cruise is over, you can admire it only in museums, books and in our memories. A major part of  US Naval Aviation history will be over. So enjoy this look back at one cool cat……………………………………………………………………

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Peter Boschert

Peter is a photographer covering events in the United States and in Europe. He likes to cover Nellis AFB, NAS Fallon and RAF Lakenheath.

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