Recently we shared the thrills of naval aviation with not one, but two generations of “Top Gun” newbies.
Our oldest daughter and husband wanted to attend the highly anticipated first week release of “Top Gun: Maverick” at our local theatre, as did we. After all, we saw the original 36 years ago during opening week.
That left the 2-year-old grandson in a bit of limbo as his parents were unsure of his ability to sit through a full feature-length film. We decided to make it a family affair with the knowledge that if things went south, we would take No. 1 Grandson home so his parents could watch in peace, and we would go back for the next week’s showing.
None of us should have worried though. This kid loves action of all kinds and there was plenty to be had between the dog-fighting jets, the enemy helicopters and carrier take-offs and landings.
Armed with a big plastic bucket of popcorn and settled into his own seat, Dorne was quite content for nearly 45 minutes and when he did start moving around it was only to see if he could see better from Mom and Dad’s laps.
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Add to that his chatter and commentary and we had a “Top Gun” experience seen through the eyes of a toddler. Chuckles rippled through the theater at his shout of, “HELICOPTER!” So, spoiler alert for those who haven’t seen the movie yet, there is a helicopter. Likewise, we were also informed that there was “WATER” and “PLANES.” This is a naval aviation film after all.
If you loved the original “Top Gun,” the aviation scenes are even more spectacular in this one and the footage is real, not green-screened or computer-enhanced. To say some of the action is death-defying would be an understatement.
For Nebraskans there is also some original “Top Gun” trivia you might be interested in. Did you know that University of Nebraska President Ted Carter, who retired as a Vice Admiral in the U.S. Navy, was a former student and instructor at Miramar? Yes, our own Ted Carter was a “Top Gun” and as a student was Tom Cruise’s escort one night during filming of the original movie.
Carter accumulated 6,150 flight hours in F-4, F-14, and F-18 aircraft during his career and safely completed 2,016 carrier-arrested landings, the record among all active and retired U.S. Naval Aviation designators.
If you want to read more about his experiences, go to this link at one of my former newspapers, The Norfolk Daily News, for a May 22 article: https://norfolkdailynews.com/state/nebraska/top-gun-nu-president-recalls-time-at-fightertown-usa-as-original-movie-was-being-produced/article_e9c97d8b-a4f0-5e18-839f-e6987d31168f.html
After waiting two years for the movie’s COVID-delayed release, I and millions of others are once again awed by the skills and sheer guts displayed by our naval aviators and while a bit glorified on the big screen, to know they do this day in and day out, let me say, “Thanks for your service.”
It was great to see some of my generation’s heartthrobs still in good form and to also introduce two new generations to the thrills of “Top Gun” mania with a new cast of characters. Who knows, maybe a third “Top Gun” will surface down the line?
Barb Bierman Batie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.