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  1. #1
    FishTail Guest

    F-14 Tomcat retires

    Hundreds of former Grumman employees and aviation buffs paid their last respects yesterday to a soon-to-retire jet that, for decades, defined Long Island industry.

    "Pound for pound, it is the best aircraft that the United States ever had," said John Lampasone, who worked at Grumman for 24 years. "And it's a shame that they're taking it out of service."

    Lampasone was one of the roughly 300 spectators who gathered near the American Air Power Museum in East Farmingdale to watch two of the remaining F-14s, known as the Tomcat, land at Republic Airport for a two-day stop, part of the plane's farewell tour.

    By late afternoon, more than 1,700 people had visited the site, said museum spokesman Gary Lewi.

    Many of the morning's spectators brought ear protectors to shield them from the numbing squeal of the jet engines. As the pilots brought the planes face-to-face with the crowd, the engines turned off and the high-pitched noise slipped to silence.

    That moment brought the event to a climax after the two jets circled the Long Island skies for several minutes. At one point, they flew over the Northrop Grumman facility in Bethpage, where employees filtered into the parking lot to watch them pass. Northrop Corp. acquired the original Grumman Corp. in 1994.

    At Republic, the crowd had little trouble spotting the jets, even when they were only specks in the sky.

    "After working on these jets for so long, if there's a Tomcat in the air, you're able to spot it," said William Barto, who helped write the F-14 flight manual during his 20 years at Grumman.

    Like Barto, John Devaney, a 29-year Grumman worker, witnessed the F-14's history from the start. In 1969, Devaney helped write the F-14's proposal, which included a full-scale model of the jet.

    The mechanics crafted the wooden model so accurately that light from a few overhead spotlights reflected off its 64-foot wingspan and lit up the entire hangar.

    "It was like a Hollywood movie," Devaney said. "And we weren't a show business kind of company."

    "Everyone knows what the F-14 has meant to Long Island and the rest of the nation," Duke Dufresne, head of Northrop Grumman's Long Island operations, said in a brief address to the crowd after the planes landed.

    During the 1970s, '80s and '90s, Grumman produced 712 F-14s. In its heydey, the F-14 was known for its advanced radar system and its speed. The jet could track 24 targets and hit six of them with its lethal Phoenix missiles. Its speed, up to 1,544 miles per hour, made it the fastest machine in the sky.

    "The Tomcat is a muscle car," said Lt. Cmdr. Charles Brown, who flew one of the visiting F-14s.

    "When you sweep the wings back and do a flyover, it's a pretty sexy plane."


  2. #2
    Standard Dave's Avatar
    Standard Dave is offline Constable
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    They didn't metion the staring role in the film TOP GUN has to be a highlight of it's flying career

  3. #3
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    armygrnt502 is offline Making my streets safer, one day at a time
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    Tis true...the F14 has had a stellar career with the Navy and Marines. Unfortunatly, time does pass and newer designs and technologies appear.

    Can only wait to see just what the next gen. of planes will hold.

  4. #4
    Cheech Guest
    Tomcats are no longer?!

  5. #5
    keith720's Avatar
    keith720 is offline Finely Aged
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    In my opinion, the F-14 is the "P-51" of it's time. It's a classic fighter that still outclasses much of what the rest of the world has to offer.
    For the morning will come. Brightly will it shine on the brave and true, kindly upon all who suffer for the cause, glorious upon the tombs of heroes. Thus will shine the dawn.

    Winston Churchill



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