No other fighter that compares to it...Flight crews who train, fly and depend on aircraft often speak of them with affection, but even from that perspective the F-14 has been special. A frontline fighter for the Navy since 1970, the Tomcat has earned its reputation as the biggest, baddest dog on the block. Not sleek, like its successor the F-18 Hornet... Even on the ground it looks tough, muscular, pumped. LTJG Todd Winters, USN\"Chilly" "It's different looking than other jets like the F-16, F-18."
No one would call it pretty. It does look purposeful, even threatening. It backs up the image with a full range of weaponry, it has filled a number of roles. Actual aerial combat has been rare in recent decades, but in its few encounters the F-14 has been formidable. Muammar Ghaddafi sent Russian-built Migs and Sukhois to challenge it 3 times. Final score, Tomcats 4, Libya nothing.
The F-14 is still a very capable fighter, but keeping it in the air is difficult and time consuming.
So, the Navy will be phasing out the Tomcat. After one more cruise, these men will retrain on the F-18. The Tomcat won't return to Fallon. It's a move in keeping with efforts to make today's military more efficient. In a year and a half these crews will be working on and in Hornets and that's what you'll see in the skies around Fallon. Long after its last flight...however.... It seems there will remain a connection between the plane...and the men who flew them.
LT Taylor Grant, USN, "No Show" "I've wanted to fly a tomcat since I was 7 or 8 and I'm glad to be doing it...it's sad to see them go."
These 2 squardrons.... VF 31 and VF213....the Tomcatters and the Black Lions respectively...are about to wind up training at Fallon and return to their home base in Virginia. They'll ship out on USS Theodore Roosevelt sometime this fall. The next time any of them return to Fallon, they'll be flying F-18's.