The Grumman F-11A Tiger Jet, on loan from the Naval Aviation Museum, was dedicated to the City in 1973 by General Paul Fontana as a symbol of the strong bond of friendship between the City and MCAS Cherry Point.
This F-11A jet, #141802, was put into service in 1958 and served with several Navy units until 1965. In 1966 it was put in storage and transferred to MCAS Cherry Point for overhaul and repair before being reassigned to the Blue Angels for the 1966-67 seasons. Forty-five of the F-11A's served the Navy's Blue Angels flight demonstration team between 1959 and 1961.
Over the decades, displayed on City land adjacent to Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, the jet became inaccessible due to growth and development along that corridor and suffered from deterioration and vandalism. In 2009, the Department of the Navy, National Museum of Naval Aviation, made a site inspection requesting renovation of the plane or they would require the City to return the aircraft to the National Museum of Naval Aviation.
With the City's approval, Swiss Bear committed to raising funds and coordinating the project to restore and relocate the jet to a highly visible location,
In 2005 with the City's approval, Swiss Bear committed to raising funds and coordinating the restoration and relocation of the aircraft. During the planning phase, the Committee determined the F-11A
had been a Blue Angels aircraft and received approval from the Naval Aviation Museum to restore it to its Blue Angel livery. The election of a new Mayor and Aldermen in 2009 led to a period of inactivity, until the newly elected Board appointed Fire Chief Aster, then interim Director of Public Works to work with Swiss Bear and complete the project.
In mid-summer, the jet was transported to the Fleet Readiness Center East (FRC-East) at MCAS Cherry Point. Many employees and well qualified enthusiastic volunteers worked numerous hours repairing and restoring the jet before priming and painting the historic aircraft to its original Blue Angel glory.
The total estimated cost of the project, approximately $200K, includes monetary, in-kind services and volunteer time, heavy earth-moving equipment, transporting the jet to and from Cherry Point, engineering, site design, landscaping, construction of the pedestal, sidewalk, lights and flag poles.
The relocation and restoration of this F-11A Tiger aircraft to a highly visible, prominent location, adds to existing attractions. Professionally designed story boards relate the jet's history as Grumman's first supersonic fighter and as a top performer for many years with the Blue Angels. It recognizes those who helped make this project a success, and our City's close relationship with the military.
The dedication of the restored Grumman F-11A Tiger jet was held Sunday, October 30, 2011 in Lawson Creek Park.
This project is an excellent example of how the public private partnership between the City, Swiss Bear and MCAS FRC-E worked together for the greater good of the community. By identifying a specific need, getting the City's approval to coordinate and solicit the community's help, this project was brought to completion at a minimal cost to the city/taxpayers.