When I was an 11-year-old growing up in Pascagoula, with T-2 Buckeyes and T-28 Trojans a common sight overhead whenever we went to the beach in Gulf Shores and the “Grey Ghost” that was USS Lexington (AVT-16) regularly docked just over the Florabama line at P-Cola, Naval Aviation was never far from my mind.
Then I saw Top Gun, and I 100 percent knew that I had to become a Tomcat driver.
Well, fast forward to my late teens, and, despite a few hours logged in a Cessna 172 and all the ribbons I earned in NJROTC– some of which were achieved at Pensacola NAS– my local recruiter told me of this thing called unwaiverable excessive refractive error, meaning I would never fly anything with the Navy except as a passenger.
Still, you have to admit, there has probably never been a better recruiting tool for Naval Aviators, even considering its gaffes, than Top Gun.
And the Navy realizes that with the excellent sequel as well, hitting by coincidence during the Centennial of the Navy’s Carrier-borne operations.