Photos of the Week: Silver Screen Star

Legendary Tomcat forever a Navy staple, Hollywood icon

By BlueSkyStaff

Published February 17, 2023

Read Time: 2 mins


No Navy aircraft is as iconic the Grumman F-14 Tomcat.

First flown in 1970, the Tomcat was designed to replace the venerable McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom following the Vietnam War and become the U.S. Navy’s premier fleet defense fighter aircraft.

The F-14’s swing-wing design was unique for fighters at the time. In its fully swept back position, the aircraft unlocked its full maneuvering capabilities and could dash to supersonic speeds.

The wings in the full forward position gave pilots better control on landing and a smaller footprint on space-constrained aircraft carriers.

The Tomcat underwent continuous upgrades throughout its career, adding more powerful engines and upgraded avionics in the 1990s to bolster already-phenomenal performance.

The fighter was beloved by Navy pilots, and they weren’t the only ones: its star role in Top Gun made the F-14 the most-recognized fighter in America.

And although Tom Cruise and the Navy upgraded to the Tomcat’s replacement—the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet—for the 2022 sequel Top Gun: Maverick, the F-14 still managed to make a nostalgic cameo appearance.

The F-14 was retired by the Navy in September 2006, exactly 32 years after its first flight took place.

Fortunately, numerous Tomcats can still be seen today in museums across the country, including an F-14D model photographed by Hudson Vennum at the National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va., near Washington Dulles International Airport.

If you take a trip to an aviation museum to see some legendary airplanes, you might fly over some mountains and canyons—perhaps those same ones carved up by Maverick and Goose—or ones like these captured by Julie Govic while onboard a Delta flight to Salt Lake City.

Thanks for sharing, Hudson and Julie!

Our readers continue to pass along shots of unique aircraft, international airports, historical events, gorgeous views and even family vacation photos for this feature. We love them! Keep them coming—you can click here for submission guidelines.

A Delta Air Lines flight passes over the Rocky Mountains while in route to Salt Lake City. (Photo submitted by Julie Govic)

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