In the spirit of Throwback Thursday, we’re going to revisit one of the Navy’s recent retirees, the Grumman Iron Works EA-6B Prowler. Not long ago, we posted a photo gallery featuring the Prowler, one of the more venerable types ever to grace the decks of US Navy aircraft carriers in the last 40+ years. Although it will continue to fly with the Marines for a few more years, the jet has seen its last combat cruise, and the few remaining US Navy frames will be replaced by modern EA-18G Growlers this year.
As the Prowler drawdown neared, several aircraft were earmarked for aircraft museums. One such aircraft, bureau number 158811, was flown in December 2013 from its former home at NAS Whidbey Island to its new home at the Pacific Coast Air Museum in Santa Rosa, California. Officially on loan from the National Naval Aviation Museum, the jet now basks in the California sunshine alongside many of its contemporaries, including an A-4 Skyhawk, A-6 Intruder, and A-7 Corsair II.
This particular airframe had just shy of 12,000 flight hours when her fuel tanks ran dry and the Pratt & Whitney J52 turbojet engines spooled down for the last time as she retired to the California wine country. Witnessing an aircraft literally being put to rest like this is a bittersweet moment even for bystanders, and especially so for the Prowler crew.
Fortunately for the rest of us, 158811’s fini-flight was well covered and we’re excited to share this video with you. Ride along with the crew from VAQ-131 “Lancers” as they make their way south along the Pacific coastline, with a few rolls thrown in for good measure. It will be a sad day when the Marines also retire their Prowlers and the Grumman jet no longer graces our skies, but our eardrums may be all the better for it. If you’re ever in the Bay Area, hop up to Santa Rosa and go pay 158811 a visit, and thank it for 40 years of faithful service.