Actor Tom Cruise on the set of Top Gun, directed by Tony Scott. Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis—Getty Images

The real history behind TOPGUN

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TOPGUN – A real flight school.

The 1986 war film starring Tom Cruise inspired an entire generation to take up aviation or military aviation as their passion in life, but not everything is like the movies. However, the truth is more interesting. TOPGUN is a real flight school that was actually founded during the Vietnam War in the late 60s and the early 70s. While many individuals might look at TOPGUN and think that the brand and symbolism of the school are derived from the famous aviation movie, it is actually the opposite way around. Not only were the aesthetics of the movie copied from the real deal of the flight school, but the skill in aviation and fighting was also real too. Allegedly, there were real naval officers and experts brought in to train all the aviators and fighters to make the most out of their skills and technology. TOPGUN was founded after the American army was taking repeated losses during the Vietnam war, so they decided to bring in the big guns to elevate the American army and take the war to Vietnam from the air. They experiment with new maneuvers used in dogfighting/air-to-air combat. They also designed methods for low-level bombing runs. According to statistics from the fighter jets that were sent from the TOPGUN military aviation school, for every single American casualty in the Vietnam war, there were 12 on the enemy side. It’s safe to say that the real TOPGUN school did exactly what it was created to do. It’s no wonder at all why so many audience members loved the iconic aviation movie when the real-life story that inspired is more epic than anything that happens in the film.


FA18 SuperHornet military jet on board the USS Carl Vinson undergoes maintenance Credit: cr8it (iStock)

FA18 SuperHornet military jet on board the USS Carl Vinson undergoes maintenance. Credit: cr8it (iStock)

The reaction to the TOPGUN film.

Unsurprisingly, the iconic movie received mixed reviews from actual aviation members’, professors, and graduates from the real-life TOPGUN flight school. It is well known that there was mass military involvement in the making of the movie, in order to ensure that everything was realistic and represented real-life aviators and the way that fighter jets worked. Although there was much professional involvement in the movie, the real-life TOPGUN graduates still had some qualms with the film. One piece of strong criticism that was started by a TOPGUN aviator was that the characters in the movie were much less serious about their work as aviators, and all had big egos, while in real life, everything was much direr and the aviators in the TOPGUN school took everything they were working on very seriously. In addition to this, they had an issue with the dramatization of aviators and wanted more emphasis on the Navy, and other sectors of the military. Some positive statements made about the film were the superb flying that was illustrated in the film, in which the fighter jet sequences were amazingly done and extremely realistic.

Where is TOPGUN now?

Many of the graduates of the aviation school are now working as consultants at airline companies, as well as pilots, which shows that all the graduates and students at TOPGUN, were extremely passionate about aviation.

FlexAir Aviation.

Just the same way that the TOPGUN aviation school takes its student’s learning very seriously, we at Flex Air take our clients very seriously and do everything that we can to ensure that our clients have the best experience possible. Whether it be air charters, cargo charters, construction lifts, aerial surveys, and even videography by air to film your very own TOPGUN style movie. We offer the best of the best in terms of service, experience and safety. Our charters may not fully fulfill your “need for speed”, but will leave you feeling safe and secure knowing that we can take care of everything from start to finish.