ABOARD USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (NNS) -- A chapter in naval aviation history drew to a close Feb. 8 aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) with the last recovery of an F-14 Tomcat from a combat mission.
Piloted by Capt. William G. Sizemore II, commander, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8, Fighter Squadron (VF) 213’s aircraft 204 was trapped at 12:35 a.m. and marked one of the final stages of the Navy’s transition from the F-14 to F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet.
“It’s the end of an era and it just kind of worked out that I was the last trap,” said Sizemore. “This is one of the best airplanes ever built, and it’s sad to see it go away. It’s just a beautiful airplane. It’s powerful, it has presence, and it just looks like the ultimate fighter.”
Lt. Bill Frank, a VF-31 pilot, also took part in the last mission, and is credited with being the last pilot to ever drop a bomb from an F-14 Tomcat.
“We were called on to drop, and that’s what we did,” said Frank. “It’s special and it’s something I can say I did, but what’s more important is the work of the Sailors who made it possible. They have worked so hard during this cruise to make every Tomcat operational.”
The decision to incorporate the Super Hornet and decommission the F-14 is mainly due to high amount of maintenance required to keep the Tomcats operational. On average, an F-14 requires nearly 50 maintenance hours for every flight hour, while the Super Hornet requires five to 10 maintenance hours for every flight hour.
The F-14 entered operational service with Navy fighter squadrons VF-1 Wolfpack and VF-2 Bounty Hunters aboard USS Enterprise (CVN 65) in September 1974. The Tomcat’s purpose was to serve as a fighter interceptor, and it eventually replaced the F-4 Phantom II Fighter, which was phased out in 1986...
Hat tip: Tomcat Says Goodbye to Combat at Scott's Conservative News & Commentary
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