Today is National Top Gun Day, I'll bet you didn't know that. What you're about to see is what I've dreamed of since the day I saw Tom Cruise as 'Maverick'.

I'm about to really date myself by sharing the origin of my Blue Angel dreams. The first thing I did after graduating high school, in June of 1986, was head to the theater with my best friend Barry to see Top Gun, the movie we celebrate today. I'll get to the history of why we celebrate this movie on May 13th, a little later. We left that theater wanting to become Navy fighter pilots. While that dream never became reality for either of us, I never stopped being amazed by what these pilots can do.

From the very first Blue Angels airshow I attended in 1988... to begging my dad to stop in Pensacola, Florida, on the way to Daytona Beach, to see their training facility... to living in Norfolk, Virginia and watching them practice often, while sitting on top of my car near the Norfolk Naval Air Station runway... My admiration for the Blue Angels runs deep. I still get goosebumps when I hear the song Dreams, by Van Halen, that features these amazing pilots.

I couldn't have been more excited to take my two-year-old daughter to see the Blue Angels at RockfordAirFest 2007. On my shoulders, with huge ear protection, we stood near that runway in complete amazement.

I will likely never be able to actually be in the cockpit of an F/A-18 Hornet flying at several hundred miles per hour, with a Blue Angel pilot, but this cockpit video from their America Strong flyover in Chicago (5/12/20) is as close as I'm ever going to get. From all angles, see the last part of the Blue Angels Chicago flyover as they fly south on the lakeshore.

Why is May 13th known as Top Gun Day?

“We intended for Top Gun Day to be observed on the day the movie was released, which was May 16th, 1986. Problem is, that’s Iron Eagle Day. I know, I know, that blows – the ugly step child gets the real day. Actually, that’s not true, and as far as I know there is no Iron Eagle Day. The real story is we screwed up when creating a few graphics and by the time we caught the error the word was already out. It turns out that choosing the 13th was somewhat serendipitous because Top Gun’s 25th anniversary is in 2011–and it just so happens that Top Gun Day lands on a Friday that year! Hemlock anyone?”

Top Gun: Maverick will hit theaters on Dec. 23, 2020 after being pushed back from the summer due to COVID-19. Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer return, and Miles Teller joins the cast as Cruise’s son. I wish I could be in the theater watching this sequel with my buddy Barry from high school. He actually did join the Navy that summer but never got to fly that jet. Barry passed away a number of years ago.



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