That’s a negative, Ghostrider, the pattern is full.

Back when I was in the 5th grade, I started to take my first real interest in military history and military hardware. The school had an annual book fair, and that year, I picked up a book showing the modern military aircraft in service in the U.S. armed forces. And as soon as I got my first look at the F-14 Tomcat, I was in love—and yes, it was the completely bad-ass sweepback wings. Not long after that, I bought my first Revell plastic model kit—and yes, it was the F-14 Tomcat. Long after most of my subsequent models had met their untimely demises (read: I blew them up with firecrackers), that F-14 stayed around. It was my first, and it was one of the last ones that I kept (…before I eventually blew it up as well).

So it was with a large measure of sadness that I read the other day that the Tomcat just flew its last combat mission. The F/A-18 Super Hornet that’s replacing it in service is a pretty cool aircraft in its own right and is a whole lot less expensive to maintain, but it’s just not the same.

Thanks for more than 20 years of stellar service. I’ll miss you.

(And yes, you’ve seen an F-14. Think Top Gun. Tom Cruise was just an accessory—for me, it was all about the hardware…)

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