Late night host Conan O’Brien visited with Air Force working dog handlers and got into all sorts of shenanigans. He joked with the handlers, watched the dog chase down a suspect, and even tried to out-dog the Air Force’s canines.
You read that right. He tried to compete with the dog in an obstacle course.
Movies are outstanding. They allow for a short break from reality and fill us with hope and pride as we watch protagonists followthrough on their journeys, but suspension of belief is a fickle thing.
If a film explains the rules of its universe or, at the very least, remains consistent, then the viewer can stay in the story. When these rules are egregiously broken, it’s hard for the audience to remain engaged through the gawking and scoffing.
The Matrix is a perfect example of a film that explains why characters survive outrageous situations. However, not all films are The Matrix. Some movies stay grounded in reality until the very moment the protagonist needs to accomplish something fantastic, then all bets are off — and so is our attention.
The following four characters are guilty of convenient miracles.
Windtalkers is a beautiful idea for a film; immortalizing the very real heroism of World War II Marine Navajo code talkers is absolutely a worthy idea. However, John Woo directing Nick Cage in the lead role is a recipe for some over-the-top scenes. In film’s opening, Corporal Joe Enders (Nick Cage) sustains a blast from an enemy grenade while holding a position somewhere in the Solomon Islands. There’s no way he survives that in real life.
The real cause of death? A grenade to the everything.
2. Specialist John Grimes – Black Hawk Down
Black Hawk Down is another military biopic, but it takes way less creative license. At one point, John Grimes (Ewan McGregor) steps out from cover to successfully take out a mounted .50 cal, but the celebration is short-lived when an RPG is accurately fired at him. Instead of being blown to bits, we discover Grimes covered in dirt, ears ringing.
The real cause of death? RPG to the body.
3. Major William Cage – Edge of Tomorrow
This one is particularly hard to forgive since the entire film centers around showing this character die unceremoniously at every potentially lethal moment. However, when Cage (Tom Cruise) can no longer restart his day after death, he suddenly becomes a superhuman.
Our hero crashes a huge aircraft into a fortified area packed with all kinds of explosions all while under heavy enemy pursuit — and he gets nothing more than a small bruise to show for it.
Platoon is a masterclass in war movies, and it’s written and directed by a veteran with informed combat experience. At one point in the movie, Sgt. Elias (Willem Dafoe) goes off on his own to disrupt the enemy and, on his way back, is met by his fellow, Sergeant Barnes.
Elias is happy to see a friendly face until he realizes Barnes intends to kill him. Elias takes three rounds to the chest but is later seen running out of the jungle, away from the North Vietnamese.
The real cause of death? Three sunken chest wounds.
Specifically, you can be a zombie in the upcoming “Call of Duty: Black Ops III.”
Omaze and ActivisionBlizzard are holding a contest where the winner will be turned into a zombie featured in the upcoming game. In addition to the zombification, the winner will have their name placed somewhere in the game world.
Entering the contest is done through charitable donations to the Call of Duty Endowment on the contest page at Omaze. Larger donations grant more entries into the contest and all donations come with benefits based on donation size. A lot of great perks are on the table – everything from in-game exclusives to autographed swag to a special lunch and VIP tour of the Treyarch studios, the developer of “Call of Duty: Black Ops III.”
The money raised goes to the Call of Duty Endowment, an organization that finds the best nonprofits helping fight veteran unemployment and then provides them with extra funding and networking opportunities. The endowment estimates that a veteran is employed for every $914 they spend, so even small donations can help put a veteran to work. Also, ActivisionBlizzard will match funds raised in the contest, doubling the impact for veterans.
Some of their predictions even have military applications. The 7 best are listed below.
1. Dr. FlimFlam’s Miracle Cream
The amazing prescription for life’s aches and pains also tends to give its users superpowers like super strength, lickety-speed, and the ability to sometimes command sea creatures. Nothing says “precision strike” like flying to Syria just to punch the caliph in the face. All this for $60!
Warning: “Keep out of reach of children under the age of 500. For best results, sacrifice a small mammal Xanroc then apply evenly to interior of eyeball. Would you like to sell Dr. Flimflam products? Contact a representative at a covered wagon near you!”
2. Tube Transport
“[being controlled by a Brain Slug] On to new business. Today’s mission is for all of you to go to the Brain Slug Planet.” – Hermes
“What do we do there?” – Zoidberg
“Just walk around not wearing a helmet” – Hermes
MomCorps’ Transport Tubes are all over New New York, sucking in passengers and flying them to their destinations… but this may soon be a reality.
Instead of long waits for an airplane to get you to and from deployments, imagine just hopping in a tube and magically arriving where you want to go. Sounds better than wasting precious leave days while traveling to R and R from the Brain Slug Planet.
3. Electronium Hat
“Please, Fry. I don’t know how to teach. I’m a professor!“―Professor Farnsworth
Designed by the Professor to harness the power of sunspots, the electronium hat makes cognitive radiation, a special energy that makes any animal intelligent. The Professor tested it on a monket named Guenther whom he sent to college.
The intelligence potential of this technology is exciting (see what I did there?). The U.S. military could ally itself with hordes of hat-wearing animals.
4. Q.T. McWhiskers
“Now conquer Earth you bastards!” – Mom
“Conquer Earth us bastards!” – Killbots
Originally intended to be a children’s toy, petting it would cause the toy to meow and shoot rainbows from its eyes. Mom changed the production model into a massive killbot that shoots lasers.
“Hey, try it on me!” – Fry
Bender points it at Fry’s crotch.
“OW! My sperm!” -Fry
Professor Farnsworth’s F-Ray device emits a neutrino beam which allows the ray’s user to see through anything, including metal. The only problem was it emitted so much nuclear radiation that the Professor had to wear a full-body protective suit.
It would make searching prisoners much easier, but would likely violate a few treaties.
6. Universal Translator
“This is my Universal Translator, although it only translates into an incomprehensible dead language”– Prof. Farnsworth
“Hello!” – Cubert
“Bonjour!” – machine
“Crazy gibberish” – Prof. Farnsworth
In the episode A clone of my own, Professor Farnsworth reveals his Universal Translator invention, which only knows how to translate a funny, dead language (actually French). As is, the universal translator could help French forces in West Africa fighting al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, Ansar Dine, and ISIS elements by allowing other intervening Western countries easier communication with locals.
Another version of this device works for alien languages as well as English.
7. What-If Machine
“Alright, Professor! Let’s do it. Make that machine show me what would happen if I was a little more impulsive. Just a little… Not too much.“―Leela
The ultimate weapons against ISIS is the ability go back and prevent them for ever forming. By now the world knows ISIS formed in the power vacuum left by the Americans after the Iraq War, but we didn’t see that then. What if we had a machine that would let us watch the consequences of our foreign policy decision so we could always make the right one?
He was injured while serving as an Infantry Officer during Vietnam, and after months of surgeries and recovery, he extended his commitment to teach counterinsurgency tactics before finally separating.
Deep down, Smallwood is a soulful artist. An actor, writer, singer, and musician, he has made a career for himself in theater and on-screen, but it’s his writing and his music that really makes him stand out.
We Are The Mighty sat down with him to talk about his relationship with music.
“I can hear some music and know the setting behind it, and it just goes straight to my part that feels.”
He couldn’t speak when he woke up in the hospital in Vietnam, but rest assured, his voice healed and transformed into something rich and soothing.
Check out his video, not only for the Battle Mix that makes him think of his time in service, but for a performance with his acoustic guitar that will leave you wanting more:
If silver screen legend James Dean hadn’t died in a 1955 car accident, he would be 88 years old, much too old to portray a Vietnam War-era soldier in the upcoming film Finding Jack. But he did die in that car crash, and he’s not actually being resurrected to star in the new movie – but his image and likeness are.
Set against the background of the Vietnam War, Finding Jack is about Fletcher Carson, a volunteer troop in the U.S. Army who lost his family and his will to live back home. He joins, hoping to lose his life in combat. Instead, he gains a Labrador Retriever who helps nurse him back to physical and emotional health. When it comes time for the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam, the dogs are declared surplus equipment and are destined to be left behind. Carson, like many troops, wasn’t willing to part with his new battle buddy.
The story is based on the real events surrounding the withdrawal of American forces from Vietnam. The Nixon Administration really implemented this policy as a cost-saving measure. Thousands of military working dogs who helped American forces in the Vietnam War really were left behind at war’s end, their fate (like many Americans, POWs, and MIAs) would forever be unknown.
An estimated 10,000 dogs were left behind in Vietnam.
The legendary actor, who originally died at age 24, has been cast in the film adaptation of the book. The production company producing the film got the permission of his family before casting the star of Rebel Without a Cause and East of Eden. Dean will star as a secondary character named Rogan in the film.
“We searched high and low for the perfect character to portray the role of Rogan, which has some extreme complex character arcs, and after months of research, we decided on James Dean,” Anton Ernst, one of the directors, told The Hollywood Reporter.
While Finding Jack will be a live-action film, James Dean will be reproduced through the use of computers, using actual footage and photos. His voice will be dubbed by another actor. So far, Dean is the only known cast member of the film.
ARLINGTON, Va. — The Army continues to expand talent management plans for senior noncommissioned officers that could one day incorporate junior NCOs, as part of the service’s ongoing effort to place the right leaders in the right jobs.
Following the rollout of command assessment programs for lieutenant colonels and colonels, the Army Talent Management Task Force is now focusing to harness enlisted talent.
In November, the Sergeant Major Assessment Program was initially tested at Fort Knox, Kentucky, to evaluate nearly 30 brigade-level sergeants major for future senior assignments.
Earlier this month, the sergeant major of the Army decided to implement the program at the brigade level this fall, with plans to extend it to the battalion level the following year, said Maj. Jed Hudson, the task force’s action officer for enlisted talent.
“Now we’re going to have an opportunity to really use objective assessments to complement the current subjective evaluations that are already used as we select battalion and brigade command sergeants majors,” he said Wednesday during an Association of the U.S. Army Noon Report.
The First Sergeant Talent Alignment Assessment also held a recent pilot with about a dozen master sergeants from the 82nd Airborne Division and 18th Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
“99 percent of them said it was a great initiative and they felt it had a more holistic look at an NCO to match up with those positions,” said Sgt. Maj. Robert Haynie, the task force’s NCO team lead.
Additional pilots are being scheduled with 1st Infantry Division, 10th Mountain Division, and potentially with units in Alaska later this year, he added.
Leaders believe if the best individuals can fill first sergeant slots, it could help bolster the Army’s “This is My Squad” initiative, which aims to build cohesive teams at the squad level.
“That company-level first sergeant really coaches, teaches and mentors and puts those squad leaders into those right positions,” Haynie said. “Having the right NCOs with the right characteristics helps us get after that.”
Similar to the officer assessments, both enlisted programs plan to use objective methods to prevent unconscious bias, such as behavioral-based interviews that are double blind using a standard rubric of questions for each person, Haynie said.
The First Sergeant Talent Alignment Assessment also collects details on an individual through an assessment battery that measures a variety of their attributes, such as ethics, decision making, and general intelligence.
Those details are then seen by local commanders along with the normal data previously used, including evaluations, military and civilian education and military occupational specialties.
“They still have the authority to make the decision, but [now] they have the information to make an informed decision,” Hudson said.
The Assignment Satisfaction Key-Enlisted Module, or ASK-EM, is also now fully operational and is in its second iteration, which is on track to assist about 9,000 NCOs through their permanent change-of-station process, Hudson said.
ASK-EM, which is run by Army Human Resources Command, allows NCOs from E6s to E8s to access a marketplace where they can enter their preferences and see available positions, while providing them more predictability on when they’ll move.
During the initial run of ASK-EM, about 25% of NCOs were able to receive their first choice of duty station, while roughly half had one of their top five choices, Hudson said.
In comparison, the first assignment cycle of the officer’s marketplace, called the Army Talent Alignment Process, saw 47% of roughly 13,000 officers receive their top choice last year.
“We think there’s no reason that the noncommissioned officer marketplace won’t be able to emulate that type of success,” Hudson said.
The major said he recently spoke to a master sergeant with the 2nd Security Force Assistance Brigade, who informed him that he was able to get his first choice at U.S. Africa Command.
“One thing he told me, though, you still have to preference based on what skills you have,” Hudson said. “Are you qualified for the job and is it right for your career?
“So if you’re only preferencing based off location, especially junior NCOs who may not understand the career implications as much, there’s a chance that they will not set themselves up for success.”
The enlisted marketplace will shift the decision authority from assignment managers to local commanders, so they can better decide on what they require from a list of individuals.
“The assignment manager remains in the process as far as an advisor and a mentor to the individuals who are moving,” Hudson said. “It allows people to really have transparency on all the talent available and the individual [to have] transparency on all the assignments available.”
While senior NCOs may mostly benefit from the initial enlisted programs, Haynie said they will eventually trickle down to junior NCOs.
“We are moving forward with ‘people first’ and really putting our money where our mouth is and doing these initiatives,” he said. “This is going to continue.”
In the wake of the Vietnam War, Hollywood didn’t give vets of the controversial conflict a good depiction. The Oscars went to movies like Deer Hunter or Platoon, which did a great job of showcasing the horrors of war, but often made troops appear to be ruthless, cold killers.
On the small screen, however, things were different. Famously, Tom Selleck’s portrayal of Thomas Magnum, a private investigator and former Navy officer, in Magnum, P.I. helped others see vets as tough and virtuous. But a show about motorcycle cops also helped showcase the good side of vets three years before Selleck assumed his iconic role.
CHiPs featured two California Highway Patrol officers, Jon Baker and Francis Llewellyn “Ponch” Poncherello, as played by Larry Wilcox and Erik Estrada, respectively. Wilcox got into acting after serving in the Marine Corps for three years, reaching the rank of sergeant and serving for 13 months in Vietnam as an artilleryman. Estrada previously played a small role as the pilot of a F4F Wildcat in the movie Midway.
Throughout the show, Baker would occasionally mention his service in Vietnam, including during a third-season episode where he and Ponch had to skydive in order to catch drug smugglers in the act. Wilcox’s portrayal of Baker stands out — because he didn’t play a PTSD-riddled derelict (a popular trend in movies at the time), but instead a productive member of society. In fact, Baker often ended up being more by-the-books in comparison to the flamboyant Ponch.
The show lasted for six seasons on NBC, with Wilcox playing Baker for five of those. Most of the cast returned for a reunion movie in 1999. By then, Baker had been promoted to captain. Baker, incidentally, was not the only character to portray a Vietnam-era vet. Robert Pine (the father of Chris Pine) played Joe Getraer, the long-suffering sergeant and Navy veteran. Arthur Grossman was also a service vet.
After CHiPs, Wilcox became a producer and continued to act. Today, you can stream CHiPs for free on Amazon Prime.
If you want to take a quick stroll down memory lane, watch the opening and closing credits below.
If you haven’t given Triple Frontier a go on Netflix, you definitely should. If you’re unfamiliar, the story follows five Special Forces veterans who travel to a multi-bordered region of South America to take money from a drug lord. It stars Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Pedro Pascal, and Garrett Hedlund, who all do a fantastic job capturing the attitudes of their characters. But one thing especially helped make this film feel realistic: the presence of Special Forces veterans.
While Hollywood productions generally do have military advisors, it isn’t necessarily common that those advisors take the time to work with the cast to really nail down things like tactics and weapons handling. In this case, J.C. Chandor had two Special Forces veterans who did just that — Nick John and Kevin Vance.
Here’s why they were the most important part of the production:
This may not seem like a big deal but nicknames are a huge part of military culture and knowing how service members earn their nicknames can help you really understand the culture itself.
They taught the actors about nicknames
Charlie Hunnam plays William Miller who goes by the nickname “Ironhead,” and, of course, he wanted to know why, so he asked one of the advisors who explained that the nickname likely comes from the character having survived a gunshot to the head.
This film will have you saying, “Wow, these actors actually know what they’re doing with that weapon.”
They taught the actors how to handle weapons
Most of us who spent a lot of time training in tactics can really tell when the actors on screen haven’t had enough training, if any at all. It’s probably most evident in the way they handle weapons. In the case of Triple Frontier, Nick John and Kevin Vance really took the time to train the actors, and it shows.
They trained the actors with live ammunition
When learning how to handle a weapon, it helps to shoot live ammunition. Well, at the end of the first day of the two-week training, Nick John felt the actors were prepared to handle it. So, they gave them live ammunition and let them shoot real bullets, which is not standard for a film production, but it really pays off in this film.
The way these actors clear buildings is very smooth and convincing.
They taught tactics
After trusting the actors with live ammunition, Nick John and Kevin Vance ran them through tactics. From ambushes to moving with cover fire, the actors learned the basic essentials to sell their characters on screen, and they do so extremely well.
Actor Charlie Hunnam said, “It was amazing. I was shocked by how much trust they put in us. Very, very quickly, they allowed us to be on the range with live fire, doing increasingly complex maneuvers. We started ambush scenarios, shooting through windows and panes of glass, doing cover fire, and operating movements I’ve never done before.”
Veterans have a tendency to spot inaccuracies immediately. But, what Triple Frontier brings to the table is realism. While not perfect, it does a great job of really making you believe these characters are real and all the work Nick John and Kevin Vance put into teaching the actors really pays off.
If you haven’t checked out Triple Frontier on Netflix yet, you definitely should.
Remember the collective crushing disappointment we all felt as we got settled in to watch Pearl Harbor in 2001, expecting a Saving Private Ryan-level war movie on a grander scale and suddenly realizing it was a love story and that the attack on Pearl Harbor was actually just part of the backstory? The bad news is that Pearl Harbor is still on television.
The good news is that the director of Independence Day just made a movie about the World War II Battle of Midway. And he even remade the attack on Pearl Harbor to get started.
All this and Woody Harrelson as Chester Nimitz? I’m interested. This still is from Planet of the Apes, but we all wish Nimitz shaved his head like this before combat. I do, anyway.
For the uninitiated, the Battle of Midway may have well been the turning point in the Pacific War of World War II. While the Doolittle Raid featured in Pearl Harbor showed American resolve and boosted morale, it did little to really hurt the Japanese in the Pacific (the Doolittle Raid appears to be in the Midway movie as well). Two months later in 1942, the U.S. Navy struck a decisive blow, delivering a devastating punch to the face of the Japanese Empire at the height of its power – just six months after the U.S. Navy was supposed to be knocked out of the war at Pearl Harbor.
The Americans had a complete intelligence advantage at Midway, having broken the Japanese radio codes and determining they were on their way to attack an island code-named “AF.” In order to figure out what objective “AF” was, American intelligence sent an uncoded message that the water purification system on Midway was down, they heard Japanese radio operators reporting objective “AF” was low on water. The target was Midway, and the Navy laid a trap for the oncoming Japanese fleet.
The United States ended up with the Japanese objective, the days the Japanese fleet would arrive, and the entire Japanese order of battle. What’s more, the Japanese were unaware of the Americans’ positions or that the Navy had broken their codes, so the Japanese Navy took the further steps of so dividing their forces into four subgroups, that they were unable to support each other. This might have been a great tactic in a surprise, but not so much when the Americans knew exactly where every ship would be and when they would be there. The result was, not surprisingly, a complete rout that could only be described as a major ass-kicking.
Japanese forces took massive losses. The Imperial Japanese Navy lost ten times the number of men, along with four aircraft carriers it could not replace, two heavy cruisers, and almost 250 aircraft. The Americans lost just 307 men, 150 planes, the carrier USS Yorktown and the destroyer USS Hammann.
Not bad for the first American victory in the Pacific.
“If your reserve parachute doesn’t work, the procedure is…basically you’re gonna hand salute the world and you’re gonna hit the dirt…because you’re gonna die,” said former Navy SEAL Jocko Willink without much to indicate whether he’s cracking a joke or not.
The retired Lieutenant Commander and recipient of the Silver Star and Bronze Star saw multiple combat deployments, including the Battle of Ramadi in Iraq. After his military career, he created a popular podcast, Jocko Podcast; co-founded Echelon Front, a premier leadership consulting company; and co-authored books like the #1 New York Times bestseller Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win.
He’s nothing if not a commanding presence, which makes his commentary on combat scenes from movies all the more entertaining. Willink doesn’t hold back.
Navy SEAL Jocko Willink Breaks Down Combat Scenes From Movies | GQ
Willink starts by breaking down the HALO (High Altitude Low Open) jump from Navy SEALS. He goes pretty deep into the mechanics of a HALO jump and mission logistics that are worth watching in the video above, but here’s a highlight:
“In all branches of the military, you rely on each other to make sure you’re safe. The guy’s checking the other person’s pins on his rig to make sure they’re going to deploy the parachute properly…and then he’s messing with him, which is pretty normal, too. If you know someone’s scared of parachuting, then he’s gonna get messed with a little bit more. Never let anyone know you’re scared of something. Just keep it to yourself,” Willink shared — and again…if he’s amused, you’ll never know. The guy has a straight-up poker face.
He goes on to describe what happens when a parachute malfunctions.
“There’s a bunch of things that can go wrong with a parachute. I had one malfunction in my career,” Willink reflected. “What do you do when your parachute doesn’t open? You follow procedures. We train really hard to know what the procedures are.”
He shared his own story of cutting away his main chute and pulling his reserve — which is also demonstrated in the Navy SEALs clip in the video above.
Willink moved on to the amphibious operations of Act of Valor.
“Just because you’re on the SEAL Teams does not mean you’re a sniper. Sniper is a specialized school that guys go to. And there’s a bunch of different schools: you could be a communication expert, you could be a medic…” Willink illustrated.
Willink had a few problems.
“Let me pause it right here. It’s just kind of … not realistic at all. I guess they’re trying to make it look cool. It always surprises me a little bit because … it’s the best job in the world. You don’t really need to do anything to make it look cool. It is cool,” he affirmed.
From ghillie suits to breaching operations to catching a target before he hits the water, Willink has something to say — and it’s not always a critique. He has a lot of knowledge and experience, so it’s cool to hear him break down what’s going on in the scene and why the operators are doing what they do.
Check out the video above to see Willink’s thoughts on additional films like American Sniper,Zero Dark Thirty, Captain Phillips and Lone Survivor.
A new short film created by the U.S. Air Force has been nominated for an Emmy Award.
Produced by Airman Magazine, the two-minute video captures the harrowing challenges airmen face during SERE training. “The Perfect Edge” compares the Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape program that airmen undergo to the process of forging a survival knife, and the parallel is visually striking.
It features real footage of participants engaging in the intense wilderness survival and physical training exercises at SERE, along with narration by Senior Airman Joseph Collett, an instructor at the school.
“Your instructor is one of the finest fighter pilots this program has ever produced. His exploits are legendary. What he has to teach you may very well mean the difference between life and death.” These are the words used to describe Maverick in one of the trailers for the upcoming Top Gunsequel. While some people question the sense of having an O-6 who is pushing 60 years of age serve as a TOPGUN instructor, he is actually one of the best teachers that the Navy could possibly have.
1. He’s had years of experience
Who would’ve thought that we’d see Maverick wearing scrambled eggs? (Paramount Pictures)
According to the Top Gun: Maverick trailer, our favorite hotshot fighter pilot had been serving for over 30 years. While Maverick’s rebellious nature has kept from achieving a Flag Officer rank, it has also kept him in the cockpit and behind the stick longer.
No, he wouldn’t make a good instructor at the Naval War College and he probably doesn’t have the tact (or patience) to play politics in Washington; but TOPGUN is a Fighter Weapons School. As Cmdr. Mike “Viper” Metcalf said to Maverick’s class, “We don’t make policy here gentlemen. Elected officials, civilians, do that. We are the instruments of that policy.” Who better to teach you to fly your fighter plane to the edge of the envelope than a pilot who has spent his entire career behind the controls?
2. He learned teamwork and emotional intelligence through loss and combat
People learn and mature; even Maverick (Paramount Pictures)
Yes, at the beginning of Top Gun, Maverick is arrogant, self-centered and immature. He’s cocky and overly confident, even after he’s outperformed by Iceman and lectured by Jester. However, after losing Goose during their flat spin incident, Maverick is taken down a few pegs and loses his edge. It’s worth noting that before the incident, Maverick and Goose were only two points behind Iceman and Slider in the competition for the TOPGUN trophy. Despite his performance slipping at the end of the course, Maverick still accumulates enough points to graduate with his class.
Following graduation, Maverick along with Iceman, Slider, Hollywood and Wolfman, are ordered to the USS Enterprise to fly fighter cover for an operation to rescue the intelligence-gathering vessel SS Layton. Afterman Hollywood and Wolfman are shot down by enemy MiGs, Maverick and Merlin are launched to provide backup for Iceman and Slider who are fighting for their lives against five enemy aircraft. Horrible odds for any pilot, Maverick manages to snap out of his funk and engages the enemy. Remembering Jester’s words, Maverick refuses to abandon his wingman, even when an enemy MiG gets behind him.
Emerging from the engagement victorious, Maverick and Iceman’s rivalry turns into a bond of trust, the likes of which can only be formed in the crucible of combat. “You are still dangerous,” Iceman tells Maverick. “But you can be my wingman anytime.” Following the intense aerial battle, Maverick also learns to let go of Goose’s death. He no longer feels overly responsible for his RIO and throws Goose’s dogtags off the back of the carrier; a beautifully symbolic move, but not one that Goose’s son is likely to be pleased with. Admittedly, Maverick still had some growing up to do as a junior officer.
3. He has been in a dogfight and has aerial kills to his name
Very few fighter pilots in the 21st century have scored kills in aerial combat and even fewer are Naval Aviators. The shootdown of a Syrian Su-22 by a Navy F/A-18E in 2017 was the first US air-to-air kill since an Air Force F-16 shot down a Serbian MiG-29 during the Kosovo campaign in 1999.The last Navy F-14 kill took place in 1991 when a Tomcat shot down an Iraqi Mi-8 helicopter with a Sidewinder shot.
During their engagement at the end of Top Gun, Iceman emerged from a dogfight against five MiGs with one kill under his belt; an impressive feat considering he was forced to fly defensively. Maverick, on the other hand, scored three aerial kills. Just two kills shy of becoming the Navy’s first ace since Vietnam, Maverick earned his kills in close-quarters fighting. This factor adds to the impressiveness of his victories since the F-14A was more adept at intercepting Soviet bombers at long range with its powerful radar and Phoenix missiles than it was an dogfighting.
“Though the Tomcat was technically a fighter plane, it wasn’t really designed for the visual BFM arena,” Tomcat pilot Francesco “Paco” Chierici remembered. “It had a number of elements working against it when it came to dogfighting.” Besides its large size, Paco also notes that the A-model Tomcat was underpowered for maneuvering fights. Maverick was able to score three kills in a dogfight against a numerically superior enemy that was flying a smaller and more maneuverable aircraft than his. Any fighter pilot would be lucky to learn from an aviator like him.
Clearly he can still pass his flight physical (Paramount Pictures)
Despite his age, Maverick is still fit enough to fly, and fly well. After all, he’s still able to pull off his signature evasive maneuver. In the trailers, we even see him behind the controls of what appears to be some sort of high-speed experimental aircraft. Maverick returns to the skies in Top Gun: Maverick, releasing in theaters on July 2, 2021.