The aircraft in the video clip on Twitter is BuNo 164603, which was first delivered on May 29, 1992, to Fighter Squadron 124 (VF-124), the “Gunfighters,” but ended its flying career as “Bandwagon 101” in a specially-painted retro scheme with VF-31. The latter squadron was one of the last two operational Navy Tomcat units, flying alongside Fighter Squadron (VF-213), the “Black Lions.” The “Tomcatters’ official radio callsign is “Bandwagon.”
These two units had the honor of making the final operational deployment with the F-14 in 2005-2006 as part of Carrier Air Wing Eight (CVW-8) aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt. Both squadrons returned to their home at Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia, in March 2006, to see out the final months of Tomcat operations.
F-14s still fly today in Iran with the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force, but the U.S Navy officially said goodbye to the Tomcat on September 22, 2006, with a “sundown Ceremony” at Oceana.
Officially, the final flight of a Tomcat in U.S Navy service fell to the actual jet in this video clip, the smartly-painted BuNo 164603, which on Oct. 4, 2006, made one final journey to Farmingdale Republic Airport, New York. It is now displayed outside the Northrop Grumman plant in Bethpage, New York, Grumman’s original headquarters and where F-14 major assemblies were manufactured.
While the Navy Tomcats are long retired, they are still awe-inspiring beasts to watch in action, as evidenced in this fantastic clip.
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