As we reported three weeks ago, the Commemorative Air Force’s High Sky Wing, based in Midland, Texas was set to begin refurbishing Grumman F-14A Tomcat Bu.160403 on July 27th, 2016. This airframe, if you recall, is of particular significance, because it was the first Tomcat to shoot down another aircraft in combat. CDR Henry ‘Hank’ Kleemann and LT David ‘DJ’ Venlet of VF-41 flew her as callsign Fast Eagle 102 from the decks of the USS Nimitz during the Gulf of Sidra Incident of August 19th, 1981, splashing the first of two Libyan fighters the US Navy dispatched that day. The second Libyan SU-22 ‘Fitter’ fell to a Sidewinder missile from another VF-41 Tomcat, Bu.160390 Fast Eagle 107 flown by LT Lawrence ‘Music’ Muczynski and LTJG James ‘Luca’ Anderson.
Members of the Navy Flight Deck Veterans Group have been working on Fast Eagle 102, and we are happy to report that they have made great progress. The aircraft will be ready for its formal unveiling during the High Sky Wing CAF Airsho 2016 on Saturday, August 27th as originally promised.
For those of you wishing to attend the unveiling, it will be well worth the effort. A number of significant aviators will be present, including now Vice Admiral David Venlet, US Navy (ret), who will reunite with the Tomcat he flew in as a young Radar Intercept Officer during the famous encounter with the Libyan ‘Fitters’ over the Gulf of Sidra. In an interesting development, a pair of F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters from the current VFA-41 will also be on hand, flanking their older sister during the event. This should make for a remarkable photographic opportunity!
While we would love to show some current images of Fast Eagle 102 (she looks fabulous!), we don’t want to spoil the surprise. That being said, we will have some terrific images to share soon after.
The CAF High Sky Wing is continuing to accept donations to help with the restoration project on Fast Eagle 102. Contributions can be made out to CAF High Sky Wing, and sent to the following address: CAF High Sky Wing F-14 Project, P.O. Box 61064, Midland. TX 79711. For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 432-528-0997.