Tag Archives: U.S. Navy

That time an F-14 Tomcat pilot made a super low flyby on USS America

In 1988 a naval aviator performed a remarkable flyby with his F-14 Tomcat

The stunning image in this post will probably remind our readers the famous scene of Top Gun (when Maverick buzzes the tower with his F-14 Tomcat during a high speed flyby):

Maverick: “Tower, this is Ghostrider requesting a flyby.”
Tower: “Negative Ghostrider, the pattern is full.”
Goose: “No no, Mav this is not a good idea.”
Maverick: “Sorry Goose, but it’s time to buzz the tower.”

But the true story behind the picture above is quite different. In fact this photo was taken on the 1988 Dependents’ Day Cruise of the USS America (CV-66) and the F-14 Tomcat driver who performed this incredible super low, super close pass is Dale “Snort” Snodgrass, a pilot who has become synonymous of Tomcat.

Grown at Long Island, Dale’s dad was a test pilot and “Snort” set a new standard within the naval aviation program becoming the first flight school graduate to be selected for the newly formed F-14 pipeline as explained by Snodgrass himself in the book Grumman F-14 Tomcat Bye-bye, Baby…! :

“I was the first ensign to complete day/night Tomcat quals, right out of flight school. I was rewarded with the privilege of picking up a brand-new Tomcat at the factory for delivery to the west coast. To make the flight truly historic we stuck another ensign in the RIO (Radar Intercept Officer) seat.”

Before arriving to the Naval Air Station (NAS) Miramar, Dale and his RIO made a fuel stop at Luke Air Force Base (AFB): “We’d let the Air Force get a close-up look at the Tom. We were the first F-14 ever seen at that huge base. A general came to greet us at the VIP parking ramp. Luke was scheduled to receive its first F-15 Eagles the next day. At that time no one under the rank of O-4 major had flown the Eagle. Let’ em get a load of a real fighter, Navy style! The final flight over to Miramar was short, so we whacked the Air Force a final time with a sunset takeoff. Zone V (which was the maximum afterburner thrust setting for TF-30 engine) burner to 20,000 feet and still over their runways! The departure controller watched in amazement and then asked our aircraft type. My RIO responded, “We’re an Eagle Eater, Baby…!”

In the Navy, Dale amassed more hours in the F-14 than any other pilot, and is considered the “highest time Tomcat pilot”, with over 4,800 hours and more than 1,200 arrested carrier landings and for 14 years he has flown F-14 demos that people still talk about today.

Nowadays “Snort” is still in the air shows circuits and he is qualified in the F-86 Sabre, P-51 Mustang, F4U Corsair, T-6/SNJ Texan, MiG-15, MiG-17 and MiG-21.

About the low pass over the USS America, “Snort”, at the time Executive Officer (XO) of VF-33 Starfighters, released this interview to John Sponauer:

“It’s not risky at all with practice… It was my opening pass to a Tomcat tactical demonstration at sea. I started from the starboard rear quarter of the ship, at or slightly below flight deck level. Airspeed was at about 250 knots with the wings swept forward. I selected afterburner at about ½ miles behind and the aircraft accelerated to about 325-330 knots. As I approached the ship, I rolled into an 85 degree angle of bank and did a 2-3 g turn, finishing about 10 – 20 degrees off of the ship’s axis. It was a very dramatic and, in my opinion, a very cool way to start a carrier demo. The photo was taken by an Aviation Boson’s Mate (by an ABE3 who was the petty officer of third class Sean E. Dunn that was in charge in Launching & Recovering Equipment) who worked the flight deck on the USS America. Just as an aside…the individual with his arms behind his back is Admiral Jay Johnson” who became the Chief of Naval Operations for the Navy.”

At this point one question may raises in our minds: was the tactical demonstration well performed the day after this training? Take a look at the photo and judge by yourself.

By the way, the image on top is the one of the flyby, the one here below depicts the rehearsal..

Snort practice

Image credit: U.S. Navy /Aviation Boson’s Mate

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Here’s the position of the two U.S. Navy warships off Sochi for Olympics Security

U.S. Navy’s USS Mount Whitney and USS Taylor have entered the Black Sea and are currently operating west of Sochi.

An amphibious command ship and a guided-missile frigate, on a routine and pre-scheduled deployment within the Sixth Fleet AOR (Area of Responsibility) have arrived near Sochi, the resort town on Russia’s Black Sea coast.

Their position can be tracked online using Shipfinder.net.

Indeed, they are using AIS (Automatic Identification System), an automatic tracking system used for identification and geo-localization of vessels that can be considered the naval homologous of the ADS-B used by airplanes and it is used for collision avoidance, search and rescue, and for aids to navigation.

It is mainly used by commercial vessels but even US Navy warships trasmit AIS signals every now and then.

Here below you can see a screenshot from Shipfinder, showing the position of USS Taylor (on top of the article you’ll see the position of USS Mount Whitney).

USS Taylor

Image credit: Shipfinder.net

USS Mount Whitney is the flagship of the U.S. Navy’s 6th Fleet. As it did during the Libya Air War back in 2011, it will perform the command-and-control task, managing all the military activities related to the Winter Olympic Games security.

USS Taylor is an Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate that is on its last deployment before being retired next year. The warship has been stripped out of the main AAW (Anti-Aircraft Warfare) armament and, along with a limited “Point Defense” capability, it usually performs a POS (Protection Of Shipping) mission offering an ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) escort to other U.S. Navy units. The ship carrier two SH-60 Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS) helos, that can be used for the maritime warfare with a secondary search and rescue capability.

Hence, while USS Mount Whitney will coordinate any aerial or maritime operation following an eventual terrorist attack, the USS Taylor will provide cover (most probably keeping also an eye on the Russian submarines, spy ships and Moskva, the flagship of guided missile cruisers in the Russian Navy, that are operating in the same waters…)

Fears over terrorism increased in the last months following the threats against athletes and, above all, following suicide attacks on Volgograd in December last year.

 

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F-14 Tomcats flybys, treetop passages and gun strafing video

Better, much better than any Top Gun footage!

There are not so many videos showing the U.S. Navy F-14 Tomcat on the range, perfoming some insane, treetop flybys before being cleared for a gun strafing pass.

The much interesting and rare footage was shot in 1993 at Fort Chaffee, in Arkansas.

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[Photo] Iranian P-3F maritime patrol plane “buzzes” U.S. carrier’s control tower

New images show how close to the U.S. carriers operating in the Strait of Hormutz, Iranian planes fly.

We have recently published some images showing an F/A-18E Super Hornet escorting an IRIAF (Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force) P-3F flying quite close to USS Abraham Lincoln in the Persian Gulf.

Here you can find some new photographs taken from aboard the U.S. flattop as the P-3F took a close look at the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier (ok, it’s not really buzzing the tower, but it’s not that far away).

P-3F IRIAF

It’s unclear whether the “flyby” was conducted on the same day the Iranian plane was escorted by the Hornet; still, the new images not only prove close encounters in the region occur but they also clearly show the indiscreet Orion in the “exotic” IRIAF color scheme.

P-3F IRIAF back

Image credit: U.S. Navy via Militaryphotos.net (thanks to FdeStV and Kasra Ghanbari for the heads-up)

 

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[Photo] Iranian plane flies close to US aircraft carrier. F-18 Hornet intercepts it.

In 2012 a P-3 Orion decided to fly close to a U.S. carrier at sea. And these images show what happened next.

The images in this post, published on an Iranian site (that is currently down) were probably between January and June 2012, when USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) operated in the Persian Gulf.

They show what happens each time an Iranian Navy Fokker 27 or P-3 Orion (as in this case) decides to skirt an American flattops that is operating within the Fifth Fleet AOR (Area Of Responsibility): it’s intercepted and escorted (in this case by an F/A-18E Super Hornet of the VFA-137 “Kestrels” in cool digital color scheme.

Since these maritime patrol planes fly in international airspace and don’t pose a real threat to the Strike Group, the aircraft carrier doesn’t need to take any real defensive action other than tracking the surveillance plane all time or divert one of its fighter jets to intercept it.

Aircraft carriers don’t even need to change their course if a spyplane pops up on the radar, provided that it is not armed and it doesn’t show an aggressive behaviour.

Every now and then even Iranian speedboats and maybe subs pay visit to the U.S. nuclear-powered carriers.

F_A-18 1

Image credit: Iranian Navy/Aerospacetalk.ir  via Militaryphotos.net

H/T to Bjorn Broten for the heads-up

 

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