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Arghhhhh thar be Bones a comin’ fer ya

I first encountered the F-14 Tomcat in The Mediterranean as an Airman Apprentice assigned to the Line Division of “Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron One Hundred Twenty Four” VAW-124 the world famous “Bear Aces”. It was at night, I had never stepped on a flight deck before, so naturally they took me up at night, walked me to the “pig pen” (the area between cat 1 and 2 where the final checkers and catapult crew squatted waiting for the next jet. I don’t remember now if it was VF-84 or VF-41 that was on the cats at that time, but when that bird went into afterburner, shooting a rose pink and yellow flame 20 feet behind it, I was hooked on Naval Aviation. For the next 26 years I would call flight lines and flight decks my home. The sheer power of it, squatting so close to that monster, and I don’t say this lightly was better than…well…fill in the blanks. Unless you have experienced it it cannot truly be described. I once let myself get caught behind a Jet Blast Deflector when a Tomcat went into AB. I hung on to a padeye for dear life, it pulled the air from my lungs, the ladder I was carrying beat bruises all over me, it melted the edges of my flight deck helmet. God I love those birds! So here is the Tamiya F-14A, I have the steel beach Block 125 upgrade set, some aftermarket seats and a shload of references. I also have included pictures of my very first cruise book from that cruise aboard Nimitz. On the VAW-124 page I am 2nd from the left, late winter/spring of ’87. One of my best experiences was over 20 years after this picture was taken I returned to Nimitz as a Chief Petty Officer, then a Senior Chief as LCPO of VRC-30 Det 3. The last picture is of the Glen Hoover modeling guide for the kit. Not sure what I make of it, we will see if it helps in the build. Either way, I already can remember that night…

6 additional images. Click to enlarge.


17 responses to Arghhhhh thar be Bones a comin’ fer ya

  1. Looks like you’re more than ready to tackle this beast, Rob…we’ll be watchin’ – 🙂

  2. I take it your Chief’s uniform looked like the guy in your photo, yes?

  3. Mostly except for I had a star above my rocker for a Senior Chief, the AE rating badge, and my EAWS wings over my ribbons.

  4. Yes Rob, I know that feeling, being around naval aviation is exciting. On the boat or at the air station. And yeah the moment may be better than fill in the blanks. But nothing like riding in one. The power and grace that Tom has while cruising at angels 20. Your so caught up of the moment twisting around in your seat and look at those marvelous twin tails behind you. Flying off the coast of So Cal. The Pacific so blue. The view and feeling is beyond description, and then you place your hands on the canopy look up and realize your pilot has you inverted. Didn’t even feel the maneuver. Then next thing you know there is an A-4 from Miramar on your six. Sneaking up on an unsuspecting crew. Let the real fun begin!

  5. Go get ‘em big guy. Looking forward to it.

  6. Building a kit with such a connection, as yours, makes it “come to life” Enjoy the reminiscing. Hmm, maybe a dio of you holding on for dear life? Good luck with it, Rob. Can’t wait to see it.

  7. Looking forward to watching your progress on this one, Rob.

  8. Given your experience on deck Rob and after having seen some of your other builds this should be a out standing build. The first Tom-cats where active during the tail end of Vietnam and there still flying today as a asset for the Iranians. A remarkable aircraft and the last real Grumman airplane…

  9. Can’t wait to watch this build. I used to go birdwatching on the forward lookout station on the island of the Coral Sea. Phantoms on the cat in full AB, the JBD’s sending that incredibly hot searing air upwards, and only near us, not directly at us. But it was enough for me to have to cover my mouth and nose with any kind of shirt, jacket or anything that would keep me from burning my lungs. What an awesome experience. Thanks for the reminder Senior Chief.

  10. Looks like a great build, Senior! Love the smell of JP-5 in the morning…. The plane I feared the most on the roof was your E-2, those massive turning turboprops , sometimes you couldn’t hear them, let alone see them, especially at night.

  11. Yes, I lost a friend to a prop on a C-2 one morning, they always taught us never walk through a prop arc even when its’ not turning (obviously don’t if it is). He was sadly one of those guys that always took shortcuts despite the warnings about bad habit patterns, and it cost him his life. Hooking up the huffer less that 3 feet from those things was one of the truly terrifying experiences of my life. For those that don’t know the E-2 has no APU so you use one on a tractor, the hook up point is at the front of each wheel well. You drag the hose under hook it up, start the engine, go back under and pull it off. I never got used to it. When I became a final checker it was a bit different as I was more experienced by then, but as a PC trainee, man hooking up the huffer, that was scary.

    • There’s a reason why they finally gave you guys hazardous duty pay in the enlisted pay reform back in 1964 (when they discovered that 80% of service EM’s qualified for gov’t assistance by the standards of the War On Poverty).

    • The E-2 squadron lost a P/C in a similar way during a workup cruise on Saratoga, I knew the guy, but I wasn’t on that cruise. As I recall they were cheap with the flight deck pay, from the squadrons the line division and trouble shooters only got the bonus, the shop maintenance didn’t.

  12. We all got flight deck pay, but later on they started pro rating it. I thought it was bs. I was on deck enough where I always got the full amount, but others did not. As I say if spent a day on deck you should get the full pay. There’s a reason they call it the most dangerous job in the world.

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