This Is Why The Late Dale Snodgrass Is A Real Tomcat Legend
The legendary pilot late Dale Snodgrass is very well known by almost all the F-14 Tomcat fans. Simply put, Dale Snodgrass was another word for the “F-14 Tomcat”. Due to a tragic aircraft crash that happened on the 24th of July 2021, he is not with us anymore. Even though he passed away his name will be remembered through aviation generations and if you keep reading this article, you will find out why.
About Dale Snodgrass
He was born on May 13th of 1949 in New York. His father was a pilot himself and he was a marine aviator during world war II. Dale’s father was flying F4U Corsairs and later joined Grumman Engineering as a test pilot and that was when he introduced his son Dale to flying,
Dale was married to Cynthia West and he was a father of two. Dale was killed in a single-engine plane crash at Idaho’s Lewiston-Nez Perce county airport. He was 72 years old when he passed away and he had achieved some great achievements in his fighter pilot career.
What Makes Dale A Legendary F-14 Tomcat Pilot?
If we go through his carrier life, it is obvious why he was so great with the F-14. Dale was with the F-14 Tomcat since its early times. In fact, he got into the Tomcat straight out of flight school back in 1974. No other new pilots had gotten into the Tomcat that early.
Dale Snodgrass was first in that category to land the F-14 on a carrier at both day and night times. United States Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program, which is most popular as “TOPGUN” is where new pilots learn fighter and strike tactics and techniques before they were selected as naval aviators and naval flight officers for the US Navy. Dale attended the TopGun in 1978 and after 7 years in 1985, he became the Navy’s fighter pilot of the year.
He has trained so many young fighter pilots and also has staged a lot of dog fights in which he was unbeatable. He also flew more displays for many years than any other demo pilot has. Dale is also the pilot who holds the record for the highest number of flying hours in a Tomcat which is 4,800 hours.
Dale is the pilot when almost all the great photos of the F-14 Tomcat were taken. Dale once said “I started doing the demos and I liked it so much that I stayed connected to the airshow circuit by hook and by crook from 1985 to 1997—12 years, which was unprecedented in military demo flying, Everybody did two, three years.
He retired from US Navy as a captain in 1999 after flying 400 demonstration flights in the Navy. He was one of the elite fighter pilots and retirement from the Navy was not the end.
Even if he was not a fighter pilot after his retirement he was still a chief pilot and VP of deployed operations for Draken International. He was also called the “Real Maverick” because of his great accomplishments as a fighter jet pilot.
F-14 Tomcat Demonstration by Dale Snodgrass At 1996 Cleveland National Air Show