How Similar Is the Movie Top Gun to the Real-Life U.S. Navy Flight Training Program?

Top Gun, the highest grossing film in 1986, featured a story about students in the U.S. Navy's elite fighter weapons school. The film starred Tom Cruise as Maverick, a daring student looking to make a name for himself.

After the release of Top Gun, U.S. Navy recruiters actually visited theaters in hopes of recruiting men who might have been interested in joining the US Navy after viewing the film. Since its release, the movie has become a well-known and widely viewed American film, which may be why the actual United States Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program has some rules regarding quoting the film: any staff member caught quoting Top Gun can be fined $5. While the fine isn't much, the rule certainly says a lot about the film's popularity.

More about the film Top Gun:

  • Top Gun was inspired by an article written in "California" magazine about the U.S. Navy's Top Gun School.

  • John Travolta was considered for the role of Maverick.

  • Tom Cruise's flight suit from Top Gun is on display at Planet Hollywood.

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Post 3

I am slightly critical of the movie Top Gun because I was on the USS MIDWAY when they filmed that movie and Midway is never mentioned in it (the movie). We on board the Midway had vintage Vietnam War F4 Phantom IIs and out-flew the F14s from the Enterprise, once, but twice, and we never got credit for it!

The purpose of the Top Gun school was to teach the young/spunky F14 pilots to use those planes to their maximum potential, and stop relying elusively upon the advance technology that they were literally overusing.

In the Top Gun school, great pilots with mediocre/less technical planes out-flew the average F14 pilots who came to the Top Gun school. When they left, they were supposed to be better pilots.

Post 2

The actual answer is not very similar at all, in that there are no women expert pilots in reality, and the character was added just to give a love interest to a film which would have had no major female parts.

It is a great piece of advertising propaganda. No Navy recruitment film would have been a tenth as successful.

Post 1

My husband went to the Top Gun school and I thought the movie was very realistic, all but for two things:

1. I could not imagine a woman being in the program, but I forgave that because they needed to make an interesting story.

2. When the top student of the Top Gun school chose to return to the course as a teacher, I thought this was not realistic. Returning immediately to a school as a teacher is called 'a plowback' and it would be a dreaded and unbelievable thing. And it would be his choice, since the top student gets to choose his next assignment.

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