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Grumman F-14 Tomcat

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Mr. John T. Gwynne presented a program, for the CPHS and the Bethpage Library, on the Grumman F-14 Tomcat, an extraordinary Navy fighter plane, in April 2001. Mr. Gwynne told how it evolved and what it was like to be a test pilot flying it.

The F-14 came into being during the cold war when the Navy discovered that the F-111B fighter plane could not operate from an aircraft carrier. Grumman president, Mr. Lew Evans, proposed to the Navy the Grumman designed plane with air superiority capabilities, the F-14.

The plane was a very sophistacated design with swing wing capabilities and very high speeds and highly maneuverable. It has a crew of two, a pilot and W. S. O. (Weapon System Officer). The weapon system was a very technical state of the art design, including the Phoenix Missle. This system could track 24 targets at one time and engage the closest with a missile automatically.

Mr. Gwynne spoke of his experiences as a test pilot and what it took to get this plane into production. The structural subassemblies were built in Bethpage and other components were built in various locations in the country. Then the final assembly took place in Calverton, Long Island. When the finished product came off the line, it now took an average of five test flights to make sure it performed to the Grumman standard for high quality. At this time the Navy took possession of the F-14.

Mr. Gwynne told of his experience during test flight which required specific maneuvers, such as, flying up to 45,000 ft. and looking up to a clear, dark blue sky, and seeing the British Concord flying over head. A dart in the sky leaving a long white contrail against the dark, blue sky. What a spectacular experience! An added bonus was being able to gaze at the coast from Baltimore to Cape Cod in one view.

Information from the CPHS NEWSLETTER, May 2001

In the wee hours of May 6, 2008, the Navy F-14 Tomcat Fighter Jet was towed from the Air Power Museum at Republic, Farmingdale, to Northrop Grumman Corp. in Bethpage. This F-14 is #711 of the 712 built.

The Tomcat had been flown into the Air Power Museum where it spent time being decommissioned before it could be readied for permanent display outside the main gates on Grumman Road West.

The Grumman Retiree Club played a major role in getting the F-14 back to Bethpage where it was built at Grumman Corp. They were assembled in Bethpage and trucked to Grumman in Calverton, for final assembly, and for test flights. It was considered the world premier air defense fighter. They were retired from active service in 2006.

This plane stands as a proud tribute to the many men and women who developed and built it, and the pride of the Navy pilots who flew the F-14 Tomcat.


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