As students at the United States Navy's elite fighter weapons school compete to be best in the class, one daring young pilot learns a few things from a civilian instructor that are not taught in the classroom.
Lieutenant Pete "Maverick" Mitchell is an expert United States Naval Aviator. When he encounters a pair of MiGs over the Persian Gulf, his wingman is clearly outflown and freaks. On almost no fuel, Maverick is able to talk him back down to the carrier. When his wingman turns in his wings, Maverick is moved up in the standings and sent to the Top Gun Naval Flying School. There he fights the attitudes of the other pilots and an old story of his father's death in combat that killed others due to his father's error. Maverick struggles to be the best pilot, stepping on the toes of his other students and in another way to Charlie Blackwood, a civilian instructor to whom he is strongly attracted. Written by
John Vogel <email@example.com>
While many terms used in the movie either match or are closely based on real terms used by naval aviators and the pilots in general, the term "going ballistic" is a real phrase that was incorrectly used to describe a pilot successfully reaching maximum speed, when it actually meant that the pilot was going too slow to maintain control of his aircraft, i.e., the aircraft is ballistic like a ball thrown in the air and will be influenced by gravity rather than the control surfaces as there is too little airflow over them. The phrase is used in Air Combat Maneuvers where the aircraft is put into a vertical or nearly-vertical climb and slows below an acceptable control speed. The pilot is then just along for the ride as gravity takes over and the airplane begins to descend and accelerate back to flying speed. The call is given over the radio to warn other pilots that the aircraft cannot maneuver to avoid a collision. See more »
During most flight sequences, safety pins and star wheels on left top head box of Martin Baker GRU-7A ejection seat are installed. Thus the seat is not armed and in any inverted maneuvers, seats would slide off ejection gun rails. See more »
Following the pictures of actors in the film in the closing credits, a brief shot is shown of two F-14s flying by amidst a red sky with a mountain in the background. The closing credits play over this mountain sunset scenery. See more »
If there's ever proof of the cachet of Naval Aviation, this is it. Those poor Air Force guys got a trio of "Iron Eagle" flicks that went from bad to horrible, whereas the Navy flyboys got this great 1980's classic. Sure, it's cheesy and corny, but it makes the cheese and corn taste pretty damn good. A cynic might argue that it's just a two hour long Navy recruiting ad (one that worked for me, two years later I found my ass in Pensacola sweating through AOCS, short for Aviation Officer Candidate School, the program immortalized in "An Officer and a Gentleman") but by making a pro-Navy movie, the filmmakers also got invaluable technical assistance from top Navy aviators, and it shows.
For starters, although this movie takes numerous liberties in order to entertain, the basic setup, in which fighter pilots from the fleet get sent to NAS Miramar, aka, "Top Gun" for intensive training, is 100% accurate. The Navy, back during Vietnam, was getting sick of losing too many pilots in air-to-air combat. The problem, they discovered, was their fighter jocks had been trained for purely long-range missile interceptions, meaning they'd lost their dogfighting skills. And, in Vietnam, several American planes were accidentally shot down by their own side by missiles, so, as a safety factor, enemy planes had to be visually identified, meaning American pilots were back to engaging the enemy at short range, hence the need for dogfighting. The "Top Gun" school was started as a result, and the rest is history.
Now, back to the movie. Tom Cruise is Maverick, a hotshot pilot but also somewhat unstable. If "Risky Business" launched his career as a movie star, then "Top Gun" cemented it. Guys wanted to be like him, and women of course lusted after him. The plot is pure formula, but executed with consummate professionalism. The team who put this movie together knew exactly how to push all the right buttons. But the crème de la crème is surely the flying. I don't think that any movie, before or since, has ever rendered air combat in a more convincing and dramatic fashion. For nearly 100 years fighter pilots have been the modern equivalent of olden knights, men who brought a sense of glamour and romance to the deadly art of war, and this movie gives them a fitting tribute.
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