The Film ‘Top Gun’ Caught The Attention of The Dept. of the Navy

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Fact: The producers for the 1986 film Top Gun wanted the Department of the Navy’s blessing before release. The production company was so good at what they did, they even fooled the Navy.

Top Gun (1986) is an American action drama film about a reckless fighter pilot named LT Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, who believes that his father being shot down during the Vietnam War was not a result of pilot error. The film was inspired by a 1983 issue of “California” magazine about the U.S. Navy’s Top Gun School. Written by Ehud Yonay in May of 1983, the article detailed the TOPGUN fighter pilots at the Miramar Naval Air Station, located in San Diego, self-nicknamed as “Fightertown USA.” Since then, due to the movie, the real Top Gun school gives a $5 fine to anyone in the staff that quotes the movie.

While many people probably surmised that not all of Top Gun dogfights were real, probably no one knew that only two live aerial missiles were fired during the making of the movie.




The Department of the Navy only authorized the use of these two missiles, but after the company produced insanely accurate and realistic model missile miniatures of both the planes and rockets, the Dept. of the Navy conducted a preliminary investigation into whether any additional live firings of missiles were done for the filmmakers.

Also, they helped coordinate and conduct an aerial intercept that went over their protective guidelines for director Tony Scott. During the shooting for the movie, Tony Scott, the movie’s director, filmed the first intercept of the MiG-28 (known for the F-5) over the Pacific from a Learjet 25 that belonged to legend Clay Lacy. After two head-on passes between an F-14 and MiG-28, Tony Scott asked if they could shoot one more shot