Former US Navy fighter pilot explains why TOPGUN fines aviators $5 each time they quote the iconic 1986 film ‘Top Gun’ starring Tom Cruise

F/A-18E Super Hornets from Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 136 “Knighthawks” fly in formation during a photo exercise over California.

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If you feel “the need for speed” at the US Navy’s elite fighter pilot school, you’d best not say it or be prepared to pay the price.

At the Navy’s Fighter Weapons School, a decades-old institution more commonly known as TOPGUN, students and staff can be fined for various infractions. Any quote from the iconic 1986 film “Top Gun” starring Tom Cruise as hotshot naval aviator Lt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell will cost you five dollars, as former fighter pilot and TOPGUN instructor Cmdr. (Ret.) Guy ‘Bus’ Snodgrass reveals in his new book, “TOPGUN’s TOP 10: Leadership Lessons from the Cockpit.”

Snodgrass’ book shares lessons on successful leadership from his career as a naval aviator while offering unique insight into the TOPGUN experience, everything from dogfighting to daily life at this prestigious training center.

While assuming that the reason for the rule against “Top Gun” quotes is that TOPGUN instructors are tired of hearing “you can be my wingman any time” or “your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash” is reasonable, there is actually more to it than that.

Snodgrass explains in his book that he fell in love with aviation at a young age. He had posters of planes on the walls of his room, and watching airshows as a kid with his Boy Scout troop in Texas fueled his interest in flying.

“I watched with utter fascination as the US Air Force Thunderbirds and US Navy Blue Angels amazed crowds with their precise maneuvers and out‑of‑this-­world skill level,” he wrote. “The energy, excitement, and jet noise were all I needed—I was hooked.”

But, the movie “Top Gun” was also an inspiration. “I think that’s where my real true initial love for naval aviation started,” Snodgrass told Insider. “I loved the flying scenes. It was exciting. I felt myself going, ‘Man, if I could ever do that, it would be a dream come true.'”

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‘Don’t turn TOPGUN into a joke’

Looking back on the action film as someone who had the opportunity to serve as a Navy fighter pilot, he said, “The ‘Top Gun’ movie had such an impact on most of our lives.”

He revealed that as a junior officer, it was common for pilots to make jokes and throw out lines from the movie. “It’s ingrained in our culture to a certain extent,” he said.

“But,” Snodgrass explained, “when you get to TOPGUN, because it is such a professional organization and you want to emphasize that you are at the top of your game, that it’s about professionalism, about good leadership, you don’t turn TOPGUN into a joke by referencing the movie.”

The Navy’s advanced fighter weapons school was established on March 3, 1969, during the Vietnam War, at Naval Air Station Miramar in California with one very important mission: “To teach aircrew how to not just survive in dogfighting — but to win,” Snodgrass wrote in his book.

Decades later, the school, since relocated to Naval Air Station Fallon in Nevada, is still producing some of the world’s top combat aviators. And, the Navy …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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