F-14 Tomcast

By BVR Productions

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Description

The F-14 Tomcast is the biweekly internet radio show dedicated to the Grumman F-14 Tomcat and the amazing men and women who flew, fixed, fought, and loved her.

Hosted by a former F-14 pilot and RIO duo who combined have well over 30 years, 5,000 hours, and 1,000 carrier landings in the Tomcat, episodes will feature experienced guests who will explain the F-14's full career from early development on episode 1 to episode 26 one year later on the beloved fighter's retirement.

The F-14 Tomcast is part of the Air Combat Experience brought to you by BVR Productions.


Episode Date
Final Episode & Look Back
3233

Sticking with our original plan, this is the 26th and final episode of the F-14 Tomcast. We change it up for this episode, with “Jell-O” Aiello of the Fighter Pilot Podcast interviewing hosts “Crunch” Snyder and “Bio” Baranek. We discuss favorite part of the podcast series, missed opportunities, and more.

In addition, we present the results of the audience poll.

Check out this episode for more stories, audience poll results, and hints about the future!



Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/f-14_tomcast/donations

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Aug 30, 2022
F-14 Sunset
3945

All good things come to an end, and so it was with the Tomcat’s US Navy service. The end came in 2006, when the final Navy F-14 squadron -- VF-31 Tomcatters – shut down their F-14Ds for the last time. There’s a lot more to the story than the Tomcat Sunset ceremony at NAS Oceana and a final flight, such as the final deployment and behind-the-scenes activities that will surprise you.

Our guest is uniquely qualified for this topic, as he was the last commanding officer of VF-31: James “Puck” Howe. (Yes, the squadron continued, but it became VFA-31.) His accounts of the squadron’s performance and the aircraft’s final months will make you proud to be a Tomcat fan!




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Aug 16, 2022
Op. Iraqi Freedom
5760

Coalition combat returned to Iraq in 2003 with Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). Among US Navy forces were the Bounty Hunters of VF-2, which brought F-14D Tomcats to the fight. This episode goes into detail on the big fighter’s performance in a challenging threat environment.

Our guests are former Tomcat pilot “Grumpy” Kimberly and RIO “Boog” Denneny, who flew demanding missions in OIF and share riveting tales of their experiences. Their opening comments also provide excellent background of the F-14 community in the 1990s and early 2000s.

In addition, we announce our listener survey, available until 11 August 2022. The URL is https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/59M6FRQ , and the link is available on the Fighter Pilot Podcast Facebook page.



Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/f-14_tomcast/donations

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Aug 02, 2022
Op. Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan)
4319

In response to the 9/11 attacks, American and coalition forces commenced combat operations in Afghanistan (and other locations), with conventional operations commencing 7 October 2001. It was an incredible period in recent history, and our guest was a key participant.

We talk to former F-14 RIO Mike Peterson, callsign “Tung,” about what it was like being on deployment when 9/11 happened…and flying in the first strike to begin the military response. A member of VF-213 flying from the USS Carl Vinson, Tung describes aerial refueling challenges that almost turned his first mission into a disaster (but was saved by a daring USAF tanker crew); enthusiasm among the ship’s crew to avenge the attacks; and dealing with the MANPAD threat. He relates a heart-stopping mission to support friendlies in a desperate situation and shows us his “Afghanistan ordnance Christmas tree.”

This is an episode you won’t forget!



Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/f-14_tomcast/donations

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Jul 19, 2022
Combat Phoenix Shot
3859

The AIM-54 Phoenix missile was a major part of the F-14 program: it affected the Tomcat’s design and was the weapon that gave the Tomcat its unique and most impressive capabilities. During the Tomcat’s three-plus decades of service with the US Navy, however, American crews had only three combat Phoenix launches, and none of them were successful. Our guest was one of those shooters.


We interview “Jumby” Castleton, the lead RIO in a section of F-14Ds that attacked Iraqi aircraft in January 1999 during Operation Southern Watch. While the Phoenix didn’t score a kill, the tactics used by the Tomcat crews, and the Hornet crews with them, make a great story! 




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Jul 05, 2022
Air Show Demo
5053

Sure, you’ve seen an air show -- and the lucky ones have seen a Tomcat demonstration, or demo – but you will be amazed at what it took to train for the performance and what it was like to fly a show in the big fighter! Learn about the importance of crew coordination; guidelines for air shows, including distance from the crowd, altitude; the scary moments; and much more!

We interview a pilot and RIO team, "Shorn" Saccomando and "Ponch" Rivera, who candidly reveal the extreme professionalism and commitment required to succeed in this high-risk mission. They talk about managing the incredible power of the F110 engines in the D-model, dealing with the FAA, and how a pilot and RIO worked together to show off the incredible capabilities of the F-14D. They finish with some of their memorable quotes and explain the story behind each one.



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Jun 21, 2022
"Speed & Angels" -- the Movie
4024

Aviation movie fans are likely familiar with the movie “Speed & Angels,” a documentary that was released in 2008 and still gets high praise for its scenes of fighter aviation as well as its realism. The film follows two upcoming F-14 pilots in training, reveals their life stories and dreams, and continues as they enter the fleet.

Our guests are one of the pilots profiled in the film, Meagan Flannigan (who was then Meagan Varley), and the fighter pilot who originated the idea and worked tirelessly to see it to completion, Paco Chierici. The interview is full of revelations and about flying the Tomcat, making a movie, and their lives.

Get the full story on what many consider to be the best Tomcat movie – Speed & Angels.



Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/f-14_tomcast/donations

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Jun 07, 2022
"Top Gun" -- the Movie
6525

One of the stars of the 1986 movie “Top Gun” was the F-14 Tomcat, and we dig deep into what it took to create this memorable film. From the canopy-to-canopy scene, tower fly-by, and low-altitude flights over the desert, filming Top Gun required careful coordination and skillful performance from all involved, including the Navy aviators, camera operators, and others.

Former F-14 pilots “Bozo” Abel and “Smegs” Semcken were instrumental participants, and they give us their first-person recollections of the challenges and successes that helped make this iconic film. They disclose details that are sure to surprise you!

As a bonus, at the end of the interview we show a few minutes of never-before-seen HUD video from one of the TOPGUN squadron F-5s while filming scenes involving the “MiG-28.” 




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May 24, 2022
Adversaries: Tomcats vs Kfirs
3906

The US Navy maintained a robust force of adversaries to provide air-to-air training for its fighter squadrons in the 1970s and 1980s, proving that it really had learned from its experience in Vietnam. Our guest was a Tomcat pilot who served as an adversary, flying the A-4 Skyhawk and the F-21 Kfir – an Israeli product based on the sleek Mirage 5, with a powerful J79 engine!

Retired Commander Bob “BB” Brauer talks about close-in combat as a Tomcat pilot, and what it was like to fight against the big fighter. He describes tricks the adversaries used and recalls his encounters with famous Tomcat pilots Hoser and Snort, as well as fighters of other services. Fight’s on!




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May 10, 2022
Aviation Electronics Technicians (ATs)
4317

The AWG-9 radar was one of the systems that made the Tomcat a remarkable fighter when it was introduced. It had exceptional range and multi-shot capability but required specialized maintenance to operate at full capability. We talk to two former Aviation Electronics Technicians – ATs in Navy rating language – who give us a different perspective on the F-14.

Guests Barry Shumate and John Kovar talk about how they learned their craft: Navy schools, spending free time in the shop, sharing tricks with other ATs, and more. They describe repair methods you won’t believe and pranks they pulled. This episode is loaded with details you don’t get every day.  




Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/f-14_tomcast/donations

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Apr 26, 2022
Kosovo
4956

The Tomcat’s debut as a precision strike-fighter came in 1999 with NATO Operation Allied Force in Kosovo. We talk to a former F-14 RIO who played a key role in the Tomcat’s successful performance and reveals unexpected episodes from combat missions.

Our guest, retired Rear Admiral Dell “Snapper” Bull, deployed with VF-14 aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt from March-September 1999. He recalls their expectations and combat experiences, and shares stories that are told here for the first time. You’ll hear technical details, learn about the value of delay lazing, and once again realize that resourceful aviators often make the difference between failure and success.




Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/f-14_tomcast/donations

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Apr 12, 2022
F-15 vs F-14: Exchange Tour
5532

The F-14 and F-15 were developed only a few years apart, and their intended missions had many overlaps, so a rivalry was only natural. We talk to a USAF F-15C pilot who was assigned to a Navy F-14A squadron for an exchange tour and provides wide-ranging and entertaining comments on squadron environment, training, and other topics – as well as the fighters themselves: handling characteristics, engines, and much more.

Our guest is retired Air Force Colonel Doug “Norton” Carney, and he peppers the discussion with different terms for some familiar Navy items, such as calling the PLAT the “danger channel.” The interview is informative and entertaining from start to finish!




Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/f-14_tomcast/donations

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Mar 29, 2022
LANTIRN
3764

US Navy carrier aviation underwent significant changes in the 1990s, with retirement of several types and debate over the future. A team of visionaries realized that the F-14 Tomcat would be much more valuable if it could improve its multi-mission performance and do it quickly – and got to work adapting the Air Force LANTIRN* system to make the Tomcat a premiere precision strike-fighter.

Our guest is former F-14 RIO Dave “HeyJoe” Parsons, known to most F-14 fans for his books and incredible photographs, who was also a key member of the small team that worked miracles in getting LANTIRN on the Tomcat in record time. HeyJoe identifies the people who led the charge and describes how they made it happen. The interview provides fascinating insights into military procurement and shows what a few determined people can accomplish, and explains why the Tomcat was an exceptional strike-fighter.

* LANTIRN: Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night.




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Mar 15, 2022
F-14 Barricade
4043

US Navy aircraft carrier ops are a series of complex and challenging events for the pilot, RIO or other crew, and shipboard personnel. There is a back-up for almost everything, and the ultimate backup is a barricade recovery.

We talk to a pilot and RIO about their night barricade recovery while flying with VF-2 aboard the USS Ranger in 1989. Pager and Rico describe how they got into the situation, how they prepared when starting this unusual approach, and what it was like flying into a giant net at 150 mph!

Great insights into deployed Tomcat ops and how the Navy prepares aviators to handle emergencies at any time.




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Mar 01, 2022
Desert Storm
4865

Operation Desert Storm, which started in January 1991, was a landmark in modern warfare and the F-14 Tomcat made some important contributions. Former F-14 pilot “Fuzzy” Matheson and RIO “Woodie” Wood, who flew combat missions with VF-84 aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, talk about taking the big fighter into combat.

Fuzzy and Woodie share fascinating stories about last-minute training, chaotic early missions, and learning some hard lessons of combat … and how Desert Storm influenced Topgun and other Naval Aviation training.




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Feb 15, 2022
F-14D Combat Systems
6292

The F-14D Tomcat introduced a host of new combat systems: APG-71 radar, Infrared Search and Track (IRST), and more. We interview combat-experienced F-14D RIO “Fun” Mhley to get the scoop on how they increased combat effectiveness of the Tomcat's ultimate version; it was a lot more than just an improved radar!

This episode also includes several announcements of interest!




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Feb 01, 2022
TARPS
5008

The photo reconnaissance mission required a high level of aircrew proficiency, and could be as challenging and exciting as any TACAIR missions. The F-14 performed “recce” using TARPS – a massive pod on the Tomcat’s belly that carried multiple cameras – for much of its career.

We interview RIOs from early and later in the TARPS program, “Rooter” Root and “Santa” Noel, respectively, who describe everything from mission preparation to high-profile flights and combat missions. In addition, technical expert “Kodak” Tennyson, a former limited duty officer (LDO), adds details on camera capabilities, film handling, the TARPS program, and more.

Catch this program to hear about a unique F-14 capability, and remember: smile, you’re on camera!



Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/f-14_tomcast/donations

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Jan 18, 2022
F-14D
4873

This episode gives you the full story of the F-14D, sometimes known as the Super Tomcat, as only “Jungle” Jones can tell it! The D-model Tomcat brought powerful engines and many other improved systems to the fight, and our guest is enthusiastically reports on their effectiveness.

Jungle was an F-14D pilot and Topgun instructor, and takes us into his combat missions as well as training dogfights where he surprised many friendly fighters who didn’t realize what the ultimate Tomcat could do. A great story-teller, he holds nothing back in reporting on the problems experienced when the jet was new, but mostly its strengths when put to the test.

This episode will be a favorite of F-14 fans for years. Don’t miss it!




Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/f-14_tomcast/donations

Advertising Inquiries: https://redcircle.com/brands
Jan 04, 2022
End of Year Bonus - December 2021
2306

Crunch and Bio tell the stories behind their callsigns and answer questions: Fuzzbusters, fuel ladders, switching between the Tomcat and Hornet, and more! 




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Dec 26, 2021
Aviation Ordnancemen - Ordies
5399

Hot steel on target, on time. That’s the difference between a strike fighter feared by the enemy and a parade aircraft. The men who enable that mission effectiveness are Aviation Ordnancemen, who proudly call themselves “Ordies.” In this wild episode we interview two Ordies who embody the professionalism and fighting spirit of the rating: Randy Zeitler and Steve Folsom.

With raucous energy they talk about the weapons that gave the Tomcat its claws, as well as the unforgiving flight deck environment, life in an F-14 squadron, and many other details you won’t hear in other places. Their admiration for the Tomcat and its flight crews is evident, as well as their pride at being an essential part of the program during combat operations.

Catch this episode of the F-14 Tomcast to learn what makes Ordies so proud of their rate and have a great time!




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Dec 21, 2021
"The Final Countdown"
3796

The first big-screen appearance of the F-14 was in the 1980 sci-fi adventure “The Final Countdown,” which has gained fans and respect as the years go by. We get the full story from a former Tomcat pilot who flew many of the memorable scenes in this Tomcat classic.

Al “Shoes” Mullen was a lieutenant in VF-84 who had recently completed the Navy’s TOPGUN training class when he was sent to Key West to film some unknown movie. A great story-teller, Shoes describes how the movie-makers struggled to effectively and safely film the aerial action, and gives his reaction to the famous scene where it looks like a Tomcat almost flies into the water. In addition to his role in the film, Shoes has amusing stories about his time in the Training Command and his later tour as a TOPGUN instructor.

You’ll enjoy this wide-ranging and very entertaining interview, which is loaded with anecdotes about flight training, TOPGUN, and the F-14.  




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Dec 07, 2021
Forward Air Controller-Airborne (FAC-A)
4340

After twenty years of strictly air-to-air missions, the F-14 community embraced air-to-ground, including the challenging role of Forward Air Controller – Airborne (FAC-A). This episode addresses the Tomcat’s performance in FAC-A as well as the big picture of this demanding mission.

A former F-14 pilot, retired Captain Paul “PK” Averna was an instructor at Strike Weapons and Tactics School, Atlantic (SWATSLANT) and was personally involved with launching FAC-A training in the F-14 community. In addition to technical details of the mission and weapons associated with FAC-A, PK compares the Marine Corps MAWTS training program with the TOPGUN program, and discusses related missions such as Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR).

PK’s comments range from writing mission notes on the cockpit to combat missions over Bosnia: “NATO forces surrounded an ammo depot held by the Serbs. … The ground FAC said, ‘We need a show of force here.’ … I ended up peeling off … and thumping the ammo depot. … They gave up their guns right then.” Don’t miss it!



Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/f-14_tomcast/donations

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Nov 23, 2021
Iranian F-14's
3851

Most people familiar with the F-14 know Iran was the only non-U.S. country to operate the big fighter, but they likely know little of the Persian Cat experience. This candid interview with a former Iranian Tomcat pilot takes viewers where few have gone: inside the Iranian F-14 program.

We hide the identity of our guest for his personal security, but we get the full story of his experience: his selection for Tomcats, what he thought of his instructors, the condition of the aircraft and facilities, and even some war stories. He talks about practice intercepts with the MiG-25, use of the F-14 as a “mini-AWACS,” and attitudes toward external threats such as American and Israeli forces. We avoid political issues but as the interview progresses, our guest says he cannot talk about the military forces without touching on certain political aspects--and his revelations are surprising.

Our guest describes sitting alert: “You wear those sexy speed chaps and you’re sitting there…and the alarm goes and you’re running.” This episode is loaded with exciting, entertaining, and remarkable disclosures; be sure to listen to the very end. In addition, we announce more give-away opportunities.




Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/f-14_tomcast/donations

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Nov 09, 2021
Flying the F-14
5597

When introduced, the F-14 Tomcat set new standards for maneuverability and controllability, making it a great dogfighter. In this episode, a renowned F-14 pilot describes those capabilities and goes further, providing valuable insights on topics from flying skills to Navy training programs.

Retired U.S. Navy Captain Sam “Slammer” Richardson takes us from his early days in pilot training to his time as the CO of the F-14 training squadron (aka RAG), where he flew A-model Tomcats and won dogfights against student pilots in F-14Ds to teach them how to be better pilots. A former TOPGUN instructor, Slammer shares his thoughts on learning that “trick maneuver,” how to become a good Tomcat pilot, and talks about launching the program that changed Navy F-14 training. He also debriefs his famous engagement where he gunned a MiG-29 (in training).

With more than 2,700 F-14 flight hours, Slammer says, “The Tomcat was an easy airplane to fly, but hard to fly well.” The hosts enjoyed this one and you will, too!



Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/f-14_tomcast/donations

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Oct 26, 2021
AWG-9 / AIM-54
4382

The AWG-9 radar and weapons control system was one of the defining features of the F-14A Tomcat. Its multi-target track and missile control capabilities were unique, particularly when paired with the remarkable AIM-54 Phoenix. However, a skilled radar intercept officer (RIO) was required to achieve their peak performance.

On this episode, former F-14 RIO and TOPGUN instructor, retired U.S. Navy Captain Ken “Wahoo” Ginader, takes us through the Tomcat weapons system’s strengths, reveals secrets, and dispels myths. Wahoo gives a great overview of what it was like to operate this airborne powerhouse and reveals unexpected comments on the Iran hostage rescue mission of 1980. He also tells some exciting stories of missile exercises that demonstrated the Tomcat’s prowess.

An added bonus in this episode: we announce give-aways coming soon!



Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/f-14_tomcast/donations

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Oct 12, 2021
F-14A
4679

What was it like to fly the F-14A Tomcat in the early days when everything was new and different?

Retired U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Marty "Streak" Chanik and Captain “Ler” Brad Poeltler, members of the VF-1 “Wolfpack” for the F-14 second operational deployment (1976-77), share vivid memories and exciting flying stories from how they were initially admitted into the competitive F-14 program to what it was like flying the Navy’s sizzling hot new fighter. They talk about some of the Tomcat’s amazing new capabilities as well as flaws that had yet to be repaired, which led to Ler watching his wingman eject on one particular training mission.

When asked which systems worked and which didn’t, Streak and Ler's replies were somewhat surprising, which can also be said about some of their missions and training. But they agreed the Tomcat was one “amazing” aircraft.

The F-14 Tomcast is part of the Air Combat Experience brought to you by BVR Productions.



Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/f-14_tomcast/donations

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Sep 28, 2021
F-14 Development
6906

The Grumman F-14 Tomcat was the U.S. Navy’s frontline fighter for 30 years. A revolutionary design when new, the 'big fighter' remained potent throughout its illustrious career. But aircraft like this don’t come easy, and the Tomcat experienced significant development challenges during flight test.

Legendary Grumman test pilot Kurt Schroeder pulls back the curtain on the F-14’s design and flight test program, providing little-known facts and stunning insights that will wow you throughout the interview. Growing pains, design innovations, amazing performance – Kurt tells all with an engineer’s insight and laid-back test pilot delivery.

His conclusion pretty well sums up the Tomcat: “For a whole bunch of reasons, I would tout the F-14 as the absolute best designed airplane you can envision."



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Sep 14, 2021
Welcome to the F-14 Tomcast!
426

On this inaugural episode, Fighter Pilot Podcast founder and host, Vincent "Jell-O" Aiello introduces former F-14 pilot Craig "Crunch" Snyder and RIO Dave "Bio" Baranek who will host this podcast. Crunch and Bio then explain a few details of the show.

Listener questions can be emailed to questions@f14tomcast.com or phoned in to 877.MACH.101, ext. 3.

The F-14 Tomcast is part of the Air Combat Experience brought to you by BVR Productions.



Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/f-14_tomcast/donations

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Sep 13, 2021