Planes Which Have Seen Better Days

F14 - Creteq_thumb.JPG

A-8 Recovery on TATF NAVAJO.JPG

Whoa. I innocently typed “f-14” into Google Image search and pressed enter. The second image which came up looked a little strange, so I squinted at the thumbnail some more. It looked like an F-14… but something was not right. Upon closer inspection, that appears to be something of an understatement. Don’t F-14s usually have cockpits, and engines? What’s it doing sitting on its tail?

These images come from the web site of one Phoenix International, who are contracted by the U.S. military to recover lost aircraft at sea. Over at their picture gallery those of you who enjoy something a little macabre can check out the remains of F-14s, F-16s, F-18s, MH-47s and other complex machines which have unsuccessfully attempted to adapt to an environment in which they were not designed to operate. I just hope the pilots got out OK, most of the cockpits are gone, symptoms of the nose-first impact into the drink, I imagine.

This is the reality of operating jets and helicopters off tiny metal airports in the middle of the deep blue. It’s a non-trivial risk these intrepid aviators take, each hop could end in Davey Jones’ hangar. As they say, take-offs are optional, but landings are not. Many thanks to Pinch and his intrepid bretheren (and sisteren too?), who risk their lives so we can sit on the couch at home eating Doritos and watching Reality TV shows.

—posted by Nicholas.


  1. Absenmce of cockpit could also be a good indicator that the ejection system has been used.

  2. Yes, I thought about that. My thinking was, ejecting leave the cockpit intact but weakens the surrounding structure, and also opens a big hole for water to rush in at impact and rip the nose off. Still, hitting the water at hundreds of miles (or kilometres) an hour is likely to rip large chunks off regardless.

  3. At first I thought the top pic might have been a RDF Veritech fighter, but then I realized that Zentraedi weaponry wouldn’t have left that much intact.