The Grumman F-14 Tomcat made its final flight on Friday ahead of retirement for the type.

The aircraft, a symbol of Cold War tensions, was featured in the hit 1986 Tom Cruise movie Top Gun, in which it performs elaborate dog fights against Soviet MiG-28s.

Pilot Lt Cmdr David Faehnle and radar intercept officer Lt Cmdr Robert Gentry performed the  Final Flight Ceremony at Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana in Virginia Beach, Virginia. More than 1,300 former and present F-14 pilots, maintenance staff and support personnel attended the ceremony.

“The Tomcat helped maintain freedom and democracy around the world,” said aviation support equipment technician (2nd Class) Christopher Kaelin.

F-14 farewell ceremony W445
© US Navy 

However, the Navy had to use the standby aircraft for the final flight, as the first aircraft had mechanical problems. The aircraft that actually took off (no. 107) was piloted by Lt Cmdr Chris Richard with Lt Mike Petronis in the rear seat.
In the film Top Gun, Cruise plays Maverick, a hot-shot pilot who attends the Top Gun Naval Flying School and struggles personal difficulties to become the school's best pilot.

The F-14 joined the USN fleet in 1972 and originally was intended to defend US aircraft carriers from Soviet bombers carrying long-range cruise missiles.

The jet's replacement is the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet attack fighter. The Navy's final 22 F-14 aircraft returned to NAS Oceana in March, with one squadron flying the jets until this month.