Pilot Lt. Cmdr. Dave Faehnle and Radar Intercept Officer Lt. Cmdr. Robert Gentry taxi their F-14 along the tarmac past their ground crew as they taxi toward a final takeoff from Oceana Naval Air Station, Friday, Sept. 22, 2006, in Virginia Beach, Va., at the end of the F-14 Tomcat Final Flight Ceremony. (AP Photo/TheVirginian-Pilot, Bill Tiernan) ** MAGS OUT, INTERNET OUT **

F-14 of 'Top Gun' fame retired

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - The F-14 Tomcat, the dogfighting Cold War fighter jet immortalized in "Top Gun," made its ceremonial final flight Friday in a display that suggested the timing was right for retirement.

Pilot Lt. Cmdr. David Faehnle and radar intercept officer Lt. Cmdr. Robert Gentry gave a final salute from inside their cockpit before aircraft No. 102 taxied down the runway and out of sight at Oceana Naval Air Station.

The plane that actually took off as thousands applauded and whistled, however, was aircraft No. 107, with Lt. Cmdr. Chris Richard at the controls and Lt. Mike Petronis in the back seat.

The first jet had mechanical problems - "a common occurrence with the F-14," said Mike Maus, a Navy spokesman. The second jet had been on standby just in case.

The F-14 joined the Navy fleet in 1972, and its dogfighting capabilities were glamorized in the 1986 film "Top Gun," starring Tom Cruise.

The F-14 dropped bombs over Bosnia and Kosovo in the late 1990s and helped support ground troops in Iraq as recently as this year.

The jet's replacement is the F/A-18 Super Hornet attack fighter.

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