By Joel Carpenter | July 17, 2019
Iceman: Congratulations on Top Gun. Sorry to hear about Cougar. He was a good man.
Maverick: Still is a good man.
Iceman: Yeah, that's what I meant.
Iceman: You need any help?
Maverick: With what?
Iceman: You figured it out yet?
Maverick: What's that?
Iceman: Who's the best pilot.
Maverick: I think I can figure that one out on my own.
Maverick: I heard that about you. You like to work alone.
The new "Top Gun: Maverick" trailer was just released and it's awesome.
Watching it sent me back to the 1980s, to the summer 1986. I just completed the fifth grade and living in Des Moines, Iowa. My family and I went to watch Top Gun in the theater.
I grew up a military brat and understood the lifestyle. My father was in the Air Force pilot program a few years earlier at Reese Air Force base in Lubbock, Texas but had DOR’d in the final weeks. After the movie he gave us a very detailed after actions review about the technical accuracy, but I didn't care about accuracy-- man it was one of the coolest movies I had seen. Up until that point I had wanted to be two things when I grew up (a special operations soldier or a film actor). And now, watching Top Gun had slightly changed that.
Val Kilmer and Tom Cruise in 'Top Gun.' (Photo: Paramount)
Iceman: You two really are cowboys.
Maverick: What's your problem, Kazanski?
Iceman: You're everyone's problem. That's because every time you go up in the air, you're unsafe. I don't like you because you're dangerous.
Maverick: That's right! Ice... man. I am dangerous.
Tom Cruise 'Top Gun.' (Image: Paramount)
A couple days later I dusted off my father’s Air Force flight jackets in the closet, bought some aviator glasses and threw on a t-shirt and some blue jeans and that became my everyday attire. I wore that outfit everyday to school. When Top Gun came out on VHS I recorded the audio from the movie and would listen to it over and over again on headphones until I had the every single line from the movie memorized. Years later I still could recite the entire movie line-by-line. Call it an obsession I suppose, but at the age of eleven, I was certain I now wanted to become a fighter pilot. Fairly certain I couldn’t do that today.
Jester: "His fitness report says it all. He's a wildcard. Flies by the seat of his pants, totally unpredictable."
Viper: "He got you, didn't he?"
Years later I enlisted with a Ranger contract and was stationed at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Georgia. It was here I again broke out the Top Gun soundtrack. Every Friday and Saturday night I’d blast it on the CD player before we went downtown. I remember thinking one of the benefits to joining was the fact that I was going to get to wear dog-tags around my neck like Maverick. Little did I know in Ranger Battalion, dog-tags were considered to be part of the Army uniform and not to be worn with civilian attire during off-duty hours. Major let-down!
Tom Cruise and Anthony Edwards (Need for Speed) 'Top Gun.' (Image: Paramount)
Maverick: "I can see it's dangerous for you, but if the government trusts me, maybe you could."
In 2016 I attended a banquet in Austin, Texas where the keynote speaker was a Top Gun F-18 pilot named Ed Rush. After his amazing speech Ed made his way to the back of the room and stood near my table listening to the other speakers. I asked my son if he’d like to meet the pilot. He nodded. Moments later I introduced myself and my son to Ed who was such an amazing individual. Since that time Ed and I have developed a solid friendship.
Graduation scene 'Top Gun.' (Photo: Paramount)
Charlie: "You're not going to be happy unless you're going Mach 2 with your hair on fire."
The country has changed a lot since 1986. Good and bad. I'm hoping this sequel is as great as the original because it was a unifying film that inspired an entire generation. Story-telling is a powerful medium and should be used for inspiration-- to challenge us to become better in all ways.
Looking forward to summer 2020!