"Last Tomcats - still flying, Baby!"


[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Paul Tiller reports on exciting plans in the States[/FONT]
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[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]No, not the remaining Tomcats in Iran, but in the US! Despite the US Navy retiring the aircraft from active operational service in September 2006 and many of the airframes being cut up for scrap or preserved in museum collections or at bases, some 'Cats have quietly remained in storage at NAS Oceana. Eight aircraft are to be restored to flyable condition and the US Navy has been awarded a privately funded contract, agreed with the Pentagon, to commence preparations to restore the aircraft to flight status. The aircraft will used for a newly formed display team to be known as 'The Cat's Claw Heritage Team'. [/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]The Tomcat team will be sponsored by a major well-known soft drinks company, something which had been a talking point at NAS Oceana in March 2006 and by aviation enthusiasts on various aviation Internet forums. The aircraft will be painted in a striking red/white/blue and silver colour scheme with the Tomcat figure emblazoned on the tail fins - the first aircraft has already conducted test flights devoid of any unit or Navy markings, with just a nod to the new sponsor on the fin, and is expected to be rolled out of the paint shop in the new colour scheme in early May with the remaining aircraft all being painted by mid-June. All armament and weapon systems will be removed from the aircraft and a new type of smoke generating system, called 'TrinSmoke', will be fitted. This system is the first of its kind and will allow a display team to create a smoke trail of three different colours at the same time. Such is the revolutionary advance in this area, and the confidence of the smoke system manufacturers, that they are also offering it to the US Navy's Blue Angels, the USAF Thunderbirds and the RAF's Red Arrows, all of whom are reported to be extremely interested in it, although the Reds may have to restrict it to one aircraft due to budgetary constraints. [/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]NAS Oceana spokesperson Cmdr Jack Spurge said "This is a truly exciting time for all involved. The Tomcat lived here at Oceana, the crews were trained here and it's only fitting that the team are based here. It's great to see some old friends back at Oceana and our maintenance teams are equally excited about getting the jets back in the air. We are extremely thankful to the team's sponsors for picking up the check for the high costs of this project. Without them we, the Navy, would not be able to display the jet to our taxpayers and supporters." Spurge is himself a Tomcat pilot with over 3,000 flight hours in the jet and was selected as back-up Tomcat Demo pilot in 2004 - he commented "I'd love to be flying the 'Cat again, rather than my desk, it's just a fun jet to throw around the sky, but the problem is things break on it - unlike the Super Hornet, which is tougher." [/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]The team's aircraft will be flown by ex-Tomcat pilots, some of whom currently display other vintage aircraft at airshows, as well as current serving US Navy crews who transitioned from the Tomcat to the Super Hornet. VF-101 'Grim Reapers' will be re-established at NAS Oceana in May and re-designated VFAT-101 as it undertakes crew training and qualification responsibilities. The team will commence display work-ups with their six aircraft in late July. As yet the names of the display crews are still to be announced and the first public display is expected to take place at the NAS Oceana Airshow in September where the team will initially do some flybys with the Blue Angels team to honour the Tomcat's naval heritage, which will then be followed by the Claws' own thirty-minute full display routine seeing the 'Cat once again put through its paces - the highlight of the display is expected to be a dynamic and 'wow factor' manoeuvre called the 'Flair Loop', which will see two sections of three aircraft perform two loops together, with one section going in a clockwise direction, the other in an anti-clockwise direction. After completing one full loop both sections will meet at the top of the second loop for a split and starburst. Perhaps one day the 'Claws' will fly in the UK?[/FONT]
Oh, I thought you meant Tomcats are sellin' to the civilians. But, no...damn, oh, well. Good for them. heh...
[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]The Tomcat team will be sponsored by a major well-known soft drinks company, something which had been a talking point at NAS Oceana in March 2006 and by aviation enthusiasts on various aviation Internet forums.

Well, if that picture is any indication, my money is on Pepsi being the sponsor, is this supposed to be a secret?
it's nice to see that all of the old birds weren't sent to the junkyard. i bet there are a lot of ex-Tomcat drivers looking to get on that team.
I saved that pic. Aw some, I love to see the cats live on. But just think however, Only 1 year ago, we saw Cats on Carriers in fleet colors. Its hard to believe that only one year later, we are now worried about its very existence in the skies above.

But, who knows,one day in the far future, maybe this war bird will be in the skies among low flying space craft flying above us.