On Wednesday, November 18, 2020, beneath the nose of the first F-14 Tomcat placed on public display, members of the F-14 Tomcat Association dedicated a monument to the venerable fighter that served Naval Aviation for more than three decades. Celebrating the aircraft’s accomplishments with impactful panels showing the aircraft in action, the monument also honors the memory of the 68 aircrew who lost their lives flying the F-14.
The National Naval Aviation Museum is one of three sites for monuments, joining Virginia Beach and San Diego. In addition to one of the prototypes of the airplane, which was placed on display in 1990 and has welcomed hundreds of thousands of visitors in its position at the museum entrance, the last F-14 to fly a combat mission is exhibited in Hangar Bay One. That airplane, which flew over Afghanistan in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, flew its last mission over Iraq on February 8, 2006. It made its last flight to Pensacola for transfer to the museum later that year.
The year 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the maiden flight of the F-14, which became a symbol of an era through its engagements with Libyan aircraft in the 1980s and flashing across the silver screen in the blockbuster motion picture “TOP GUN.”