TOPGUN Pilots Are Actually Fined Each Time They Quote Iconic Cruise Film

TOPGUN Pilots Are Actually Fined Each Time They Quote Iconic Cruise Film
Image credit: Legion-Media

It is well-known that Top Gun became not only an iconic movie, but an effective advertisement for the air branches of US armed forces, particularly for the naval aviation.

But as it happens, people at the institution which inspired the movie, the Navy's Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program, formerly the Fighter Weapons School, more popularly known as TOPGUN, do not like their pupils to think of that movie too much.

To be more specific, any quote from Top Gun is punishable by a fine there. Why, though?

You might assume, that the instructors are tired of hearing "you can be my wingman any time" or "your ego is writing checks your body can't cash" for 9001th time. But as former fighter pilot and TOPGUN instructor Cmdr. Guy "Bus" Snodgrass revealed in his book Topgun's Top 10: Leadership Lessons from the Cockpit, the real reason is different.

As Snodgrass noted, a lot of people in the center, including Snodgrass himself, watched and loved Top Gun in their youth, and it probably played a role in their determination to become pilots.

Among junior US Navy pilots making jokes related to Top Gun and quoting lines from the movie was incredibly common. But those who actually manage to get into the Tactics Instructor program are supposed to be the best of the best, and the spirit of consummate professionalism is enforced throughout.

The pilot school, now located Naval Air Station Fallon in Nevada, is supposed to produce cream-of-the-crop combat pilots. And thinking of their job in terms of a very popular but very fictional story, with its action movie conventions, is perceived as being insufficiently serious.

"So, it is a part of our bylaws that if someone overtly references the movie — it could be a direct quote, it could be something that is really close to a direct quote — that's an automatic $5 fine. And it's enforced. And you are expected to pay right then. You pull out your wallet and pay the $5," Snodgrass said.

But, as he added, "I think at some point we were all fined because it's so ingrained in our aviation culture."

One wonders if by now the rule has been expanded to include quotes from Top Gun: Maverick.