Machine Eats F-14s for Breakfast

Sigh, goodbye Tomcat. Sounds like we won’t have any left before too long, save for a few museum pieces.

One of those museum pieces is a mile from me at the Sonoma county airport.

While it makes Tom Cruise cry, it makes sense, because I really don’t want the Iranians to have any parts for their F-14s.

It’s amazing they still fly (the Iranian F14s). I think I read somewhere they were using them as AWACS platforms.

I wonder if Iran would have accepted debt payments in F-14s.

How difficult is it to reverse engineer plane parts if you have the parts themselves?

Extremely difficult, if you’re Iran.

I can’t say I’ve tried it, but I’d have to think it’s going to be really really hard. Just knowing the dimensions doesn’t share much information for how to fabricate the special materials that are so heavily used in jets.

What happens to a pilot when his plane is decommissioned like that? I am assume a pilot is only trained on one specific model.

Generally speaking, yes.

I work with someone who was an F-14 pilot, and left the service not too long ago. Said he would still be there flying were it not for the decommisioning. Seemed quite sad about it. He said there is some ability to possibly transfer to a different model, in particular if you are younger, but it generally does not work out in reality.

I can’t imagine what it would be like transitioning from the front seat of an F14 to a cubicle. Shit I’d be profoundly sad about it too.

He could always dress it up like an F-14 cockpit.

Yeah, he has a bit of the “I was a fighter pilot cockiness,” but he seems to be a pretty decent guy. I felt bad for him. When we were out in San Diego (where he used to be stationed, imagine how painful that was, being an F-14 pilot stationed out of San Diego), he told some fun stories.

It was one of those deals where you could tell the guy was basically living in a sort of second life.

I was out in Lancaster, California for a minor league baseball game*, and they have an F/A-18 mounted on a pillar in front of the stadium. If some of those are retired, it helps me understand how really old the F-14 is.

*I would say “Go Jethawks,” but really I want to say “Let’s see some damn hustle if you ever want out of this Single-A hole,” but that’s another thread.

a pilot’s lucky if he’s younger than his fighter.

Once an airframe gets so many hours on it, it either has to be recertified, sent as a mechanic trainer, or just outright scrapped. Recertification is very expensive and time consuming, and since we don’t need to train mechanics to fix them, to the chop lot they go.

What should really boggle the mind is that some guys are flying B-52s older than they are. I know a guy at Dyess AFB that was flying a B-52 his dad flew back in the late 60s in Vietnam. And they are planned to be in service until atleast 2040, which will give them 90s years of service. That’s a helluva ROI.

It’s called a BUFF for a reason. But yeah, craaaaaazy. Freakin’ nuclear-powered aircraft carriers only have a service life of 50 years.

Commentary from an F/A-18 pilot:

It really depends on the pilot or the squadron he is with. If the squadron is being refitted to newer aircraft (many went from the F-14 to the F/A-18), then the pilots go through a certification process for that new aircraft.

If the squadron is not being refitted, or they are being merged into another squadron, then the pilots have a chance to find a new home in another squadron. This can be difficult to do, and you basically have to let your flight jacket prove yourself. If they can’t find a new home, or in some cases, don’t want to find a new home (maybe they don’t want to move to a new base), then they leave the flight line. Many leave the service altogether, and become your airline pilots.

The guy sitting next to me is a jet fighter pilot (Skyhawk). He still gets to fly about once a week.