Navy F-14s were retired from service in 2006, and prior to their 1979 revolution, were even sold to nations like Iran. However, since Tehran fell under the control of a hostile regime all those years ago, their F-14 Tomcats have been without a source of replacement parts, as the United States Military not only cut them off from procuring any more, they also took the extraordinary step of literally chopping retired F-14s up to ensure their components couldn’t be salvaged and sold to enemies of the United States.
So it may surprise you to see a video posted by YouTuber and aviation enthusiast, Erik Johnston, in which two F-14s and at least one F-4 Phantom can clearly be seen, disassembled and left to rot in a field somewhere in the United States.
The video doesn’t provide many clues as to their location, but a little Google research will lead you to the Mid-American Flight Museum out of Mt. Pleasant Texas. Erik Johnston appears to be an employee of the museum, which would be in keeping with the content of his YouTube channel containing dozens of military aviation videos. Johnston appears to do a fair amount of traveling for his passion, however, and the presence of some slightly southern accents in the video may place the location of this strange discovery closer to the American Southeast, rather than Texas.
All three planes are missing their engines – F-14s were equipped with two huge General Electric F110 afterburning turbofan engines, while the older F-4 had two General Electric J79 turbojets. The wings have been removed from each of the aircraft and placed in a separate pile, and most of the electronics suites in each craft, to include nose-mounted radar systems, have been stripped away. Much, but not all, of the cockpit controls have been removed, as well as the seats and instrumentation.
The planes have clearly sat there for a while, as trees have grown through the bodies of each aircraft, and as Johnson points out in the description of the video, the location of the planes would have been much more difficult to find if it hadn’t been for the lack of leaves on the trees due to the time of year. The video was posted three days ago, and the missing leaves combined with the shorts and short-sleeved shirts the men are wearing does more to support the supposition that these airplanes were left to rot somewhere in the South or in Texas.
The real question is… why? Or more importantly, how?
The U.S. military has been fairly strict in their disposal of F-14s, confiscating them from museums, scrap dealers, and even the producer of the TV show “JAG.” One savvy YouTube commenter believes he was able to identify the Navy Bureau Number assigned to the F-4 as BuNo 152267. That specific bureau number is tied to an F-4 that once stood on display at the gate of the Dallas Naval Air Station… which could indicate that these planes are indeed in Texas, but only serves to deepen the mystery of how it found its way to such an unceremonious resting place… or where its two F-14 counterparts came from.
Unfortunately, this is one story that comes with far more questions than answers.
Images courtesy of Popular Mechanics, Aerial Visuals