“Top Gun: Maverick” creates new interest in aviation

Here’s a look at the history of "Top Gun.”
Here’s a look at the history of "Top Gun.”
Published: Jul. 28, 2022 at 6:03 PM CDT
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OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - With the new “Top Gun” movie in theaters this summer, aviators say they’ve seen a pique in interest in flying.

While excitement is always high at EAA AirVenture, this year a new kind of energy is filling the air thanks to “Top Gun: Maverick.” Aviators say the Tom Cruise blockbuster, which has earned $1.28 billion in ticket sales so far, is inspiring more kids than ever before to take up flying.

While “Top Gun: Maverick” is just a movie, aviators say it really does capture the thrill of flying in a way we haven’t seen on the big screen since the 1980s.

“The movie does a really good job of depicting that joy and that energy of flying,” Lt. Edward “Ham” Desch, EA18 team commander, said. “I think the producers and the whole team, the technical team that the Navy worked with, did a great job of putting really cameras in the cockpits and getting really pilots flying the actors around. It doesn’t get any more real than that.”

While “Maverick” brought back that thrill in the theater, just like when the first movie came out, it also brought back a boom of interest in aviation.

“If we look back in the 1980′s ‘Top Gun,’ the naval recruiting went through the roof because everyone wanted to be a naval aviator. Well ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ has certainly captured that kind of imagination again. I guess a billion dollar movie will do that,” EAA director of communications Dick Knapinski said.

Kids now look at flying not just as a hobby but as a career.

“We love to see those kids connect the dots and say ‘This might be for me,’” Knapinski said.

“Once I saw it was, like, it looked so fun, and I was, I just thought about that now, like what if I want to look into doing that now?” Joseph Juga from Racine said.

“It kind of got me into the Navy more than anything. I like the Air Force, but the Navy definitely piqued my interest in that movie,” Peyton Thomas from Minnesota told us.

Lt. Desch, who got to witness the filming of the movie on his base, said being at EAA AirVenture and getting to see that excitement firsthand is almost better than flying itself.

He hopes that through team demonstrations and getting to talk with young aviators he can show them realistically what possibilities lie ahead.

“If we can inspire one kid to have an ounce of the love for aviation that we do, it will be worth it. So this is the place to be, and it’s why we are here,” Desch said.

To add to the excitement, AirVenture will be showing both “Top Gun” movies at their Fly-In Theater on Saturday and Sunday this weekend. While they couldn’t say much, Lt. Desch said those who join the screenings may have a special surprise in store for them.

This summer's blockbuster "Top Gun: Maverick" is fueling interest in aviation

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