UPDATE: Grim Reaper vertical stabilizer found

As we hoped, there have been some developments in the case of the F-14 wreckage that washed up on an Irish shore last week.

First, Instapinch (a former Tomcat RIO) posted on this (and cursed me, to boot): Department of Weird Department. Pinch writes

I suppose it will be solved (if it hasn’t already) by an analysis of the tail fin, finding any identifying manufacturers nomenclature or if there are any other identifiable aspects of the paint job to date the wreckage, then it would be a simple matter of looking at that time frame and seeing if any Tomcats went down in the water.

Go read the whole thing.

And a commenter tipped us off to this article in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot that says the Navy IDed it as coming from a plane that crashed off Florida on October 3rd, 2002. The list I compiled from numbers a Home of M.A.T.S. didn’t include a VF-101 loss on that day.


“Nobody has any idea how that vertical stabilizer got all the way up there,” said Cmdr. Chris Sims, a spokesman for the Atlantic Fleet Naval Air Force in Norfolk.

“It must have been floating in the water for three and a half years, or maybe something happened and the aircraft wreckage shifted and it broke off,” he said.

What is known is that an F-14 crashed near Key West in the Gulf of Mexico when a compressor stalled in one of its engines. Both crew members safely ejected and were picked up by an H-3 helicopter. They received minor injuries. It was one of several F-14s on a training mission and had been assigned to Fighter Squadron 101, a training squadron, at Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach.



  1. And it was a good natured curse! Seriously, its almost as if the Tomcat, from beyond the grave, is clinging to the spotlight – ‘I may be gone, but I’m still makin’ headlines!’