In 1986, smack dab in the middle of the bodacious decade of neon, headbangers and The Brat Pack, the movie Top Gun roared into theaters like an F-14 Tomcat. It got a missile lock on the box office and shot down just over $356 million, making it what would eventually be the 11th highest grossing movie of Tom Cruise’s career. The movie centers on Maverick, a hot shot pilot, who is sent to the US Navy Fighter Weapons school, and all of the drama, pride and testosterone that scenario entails.
History of Top Gun DayThe actual Navy Fighter Weapons School was formed in 1969, during the time of the Viet Nam War, by the Chief of Naval Operations Admiral, Thomas Hinman Moorer, at the recommendation of Captain Frank Ault. The realization came that the Navy’s fighter pilots needed more training.
During Operation Rolling Thunder, the United States lost nearly 1,000 aircraft over North Vietnamese skies. The USAF and Navy both sought the causes, but came to two different conclusions. The Air Force believed that the fault was mechanical: that MiG pilots caught American pilots in a rear blind spot. The Navy decided that the failure was in training. The Air Force responded by developing new technology, while the Navy started the Top Gun school, eventually paving the way for 110 minutes of heart pounding action, backed by a roaring theme song.
1969 – Top Gun school admits its first class The Navy Fighter Weapons School is opened for extra combat training at the height of the Viet Nam war.
1981 – Tom Cruise debuts on the big screen Playing a minor role in the film, Endless Love, Tom Cruise was beat out for the starring role (opposite Brooke Shields) by Martin Hewitt, an actor who would end up doing mostly random TV appearances afterward.
1986 – Top Gun is released Quickly earning a deep love from audiences, Top Gun becomes the highest grossing film of the year.
1987 – US Navy uses the film for recruiting In a “Join the Navy” commercial, songs from the movie are used along with shots that look like that came straight from Top Gun footage.
2022 – Top Gun 2 After waiting more than 30 years, the world finally gets to see Tom Cruise in action again as “Maverick”