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December 21, 1970: 50 years since F-14 Tomcat's first flight

To celebrate, the F-14 Tomcat Monument Association on Monday held a champagne toast to pay tribute to the iconic aircraft and its first pilots.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Monday marked a significant anniversary in naval aviation.

It's been 50 years since the Navy’s first F-14A Tomcat first took flight!

To celebrate, the Tomcat Monument Association held a small ceremony at the Oceanfront. They gathered at the Naval Aviation Memorial Park on 25th Street and even held a champagne toast to pay tribute to the iconic aircraft and its first pilots.

The F-14A’s maiden flight was December 21, 1970, and the Navy got its first Tomcats two years later in 1972.

The F-14 became a symbol of America’s air superiority and was later retired from the U.S. Navy. An early success of the aircraft was in 1981. That's when two F-14 pilots protecting U.S. ships shot down Libyan planes in the Mediterranean Sea.

Actor Tom Cruise later played the role of an F-14 pilot in the movie “Top Gun,” where it became arguably the most famous and beloved airplane in the American military inventory.

The last Tomcat retired from active service in 2006.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.