The Tomcat sits lean and mean, high on a ridgeline overlooking the greater Lehigh Valley in northeastern Pennsylvania. The former Navy Top Gun School F-14-A represents a commitment to country and pride in military service embodied by the members of VFW Post 7293 on whose grounds it is displayed. On loan from the National Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola, FL, the dynamic twin tailed fighter has been accessible for public viewing since Memorial Day Weekend 2004.
Normally the aircraft’s powerful shape is illuminated only by ground lights. The nearby Cement Belt Fair concludes with an impressive fireworks display set off from the valley below, resulting in explosions that provide color and highlights to the aircraft’s elegant lines. Add the element of the American flag waving in the breeze and the scene is a universal expression of patriotism. The emotional impact of the experience is very real to the photographer, who is a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War.