The Commemorative Air Force’s High Sky Wing, based in Midland, TX, began restoration work on a Grumman F-14 Tomcat at the end of July. This airframe, which CRD Henry ‘Hank’ Kleemann and LT David ‘DJ’ Venlet flew under the callsign Fast Eagle 102, was the first Tomcat under US Military service to shoot down another aircraft in combat. This happened on August 19th, 1981, during what is known as the ‘Gulf of Sidra incident,‘ when Fast Eagle 102 and Fast Eagle 107 were flying combat air patrol and were engaged by Libyan SU-22 fighter jets.
The CAF’s High Sky Wing reports that members of the Navy Flight Deck Veterans Group have been hard at work on the Fast Eagle 102 restoration, and have made great progress. As initially promised, the aircraft will be ready for a formal reveal on Saturday, August 27th, during the upcoming Airsho 2016, hosted by the CAF High Sky Wing at the Midland International Airport.
According to CAF officials, “a number of significant aviators will be present” will be present during the ceremony, including the now retired US Navy Vice Admiral David Venlet, who was one of two pilots flying Fast Eagle 102 during the Gulf of Sidra incident. The CAF adds that two F/A-18 Super Hornets will also be on hand for the event, offering warbird and aviation enthusiasts a unique opportunity for photographs.
The group has decided not to share any current photos of Fast Eagle 102 until after the unveiling at the Airsho, but promises they will have plenty of great photos to share after the event. Sadly, the other F-14 Tomcat, Fast Eagle 107, that flew as part of the Gulf of Sidra incident was lost in an accident on October 25th, 1994.
For more information on Airsho 2016, and to purchase tickets, you can visit the official website.
Featured Image: Gena Linebarger / CAF High Sky Wing Leader