Tom's Flight Dreams

I've topped the winds-swept heights where never Lark or even Eagle flew...


I was awarded my wings on October 7, 1988 at NAS Meridian, Mississippi

The front page of the NATOPS manual for the TA-4J

A-4 Skyhawk

Heinemann’s Hot Rod. The Scooter. Skyhawk. All of them are the same thing: a simple, honest, fun airplane. If I won the lottery and could afford any plane, I think it would be the A-4, even over other planes like the Spitfire. The only drawback is that it was fun because it was always flown with other planes, and in my case, my favorite thing was flying low-level missions at 200’ and 480 knots. It just doesn’t get any better than that.


For more information on the A-4 and the people who flew them, look at:

Hard to believe I was ever that young

Head-on view of a TA-4J at the Evergreen Museum in McMinnville, OR


This is the actual TA-4J I flew the day of my last flight before earning my wings. It is at the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, FL

It’s easy to look studly when you’re leaning on a warplane

VT-7 TA-4J’s over NAF El Centro


My winging classmates on Oct 7, 1988


2 in TA-4J


42 ft 7 in (12.9 m)


27 ft 6 in (8.3 m)


15 ft 3 in (4.6 m)

Wing area

259 ft² (24.15 m²)


NACA 0008-1.1-25 root, NACA 0005-0.825-50 tip

Empty weight

10,602 lb (4,750 kg)

Loaded weight

15,783 lb (7,157 kg)

Max takeoff weight

24,500 lb (11,136 kg)


1 × Pratt & Whitney J52-P6 turbojet, 8,500 lbf (38 kN)

Maximum speed

585 kts (673 mph, 1,077 km/h)


1,350 nmi (1,566 mi, 2,173 km)

Combat radius

625 nmi (1,158 km/h)

Service ceiling

38,700 ft (11,795 m)

Rate of climb

8,440 ft/min (43 m/s)

Wing loading

70.7 lb/ft² (344.4 kg/m²)




-3/+8 g

A-4 Skyhawk Specifications