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Founder of ‘Top Gun’ School Calls God His ‘Co-Pilot’

Photo by Nick Trentham via Unsplash

Founder of ‘Top Gun’ School Calls God His ‘Co-Pilot’

By Movieguide® Contributor

TOP GUN: MAVERICK is the blockbuster of the summer, continuing the story of the brave pilots who were introduced in in the 1986 classic, TOP GUN. But what about the real-life inspiration behind the movie?

The TOP GUN movies are based on real pilots who were part of a real training program. The U.S. military decided to create the “Top Gun” program to maintain and improve air-to-air combat skills among its servicemen and service women.

Dan Pedersen, who started flying for the Navy in 1956, recently told the story of his time with the “Top Gun” training school in a new book called “Top Gun: An American Story.”

Pedersen was chosen to found and lead the school, and he said he believes God was his “co-pilot.”

“When I look back at how we pulled it together, it’s clear to me that the acting hand was far mightier than my own,” he shares in his book “I prayed for the gift of discernment to make it work.”

He continued, “What we did in those two years was the most important thing we would ever do for our country.”

The Top Gun school has continued to train pilots, taking the top 1% of pilots to mold into teachers. Pedersen said he considers today’s version of the school an even better version of the one he created. 

The former pilot also shared that he wants his new book to serve as a tool for high school kids who are looking for a purpose for their lives and that he hopes they’ll consider flying with the Navy. 

Movieguide® previously reported on how TOP GUN has continued to honor the military with their movies:

After many COVID-19-related delays, Paramount hopes TOP GUN: MAVERICK will soar upon its release ahead of Memorial Day weekend.

However, MAVERICK is more than just a blockbuster follow-up to the 1986 original; but also a tribute to honor the servicemen and women who fight, and fought, to keep the United States safe.

According to a recent press release, MAVERICK will host a special tribute for the local military service members and their families in Ridgecrest on Thursday, May 26, 2022.

“Ridgecrest Cinemas will be pulling out all the stops with a red-carpet world premiere event for the sequel to the 1986 film Top Gun, starring Tom Cruise,” the press release reads. “A reception ahead of the film includes a meet and greet of crew members who participated in the filming. Ticket proceeds will benefit the Historical Society of the Upper Mojave Desert (HSUMD) Historic USO Building.”

Kari Crutcher, Ridgecrest Regional Film Commissioner, said that he hopes to recognize the important sacrifice that military personnel and their families make for fellow Americans.

“We want to recognize the importance of military life in the region and honor those who have served. Memorial Day is a treasured tradition, and we don’t want to forget those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country,” Crutcher said of the event. 


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