Top Gun: Maverick, the long-awaited film by Western air forces

It's rare that a film alone has had such a significant impact on an entire generation of young pilots. From its release in 1986, and still today, the vast majority of candidates for military pilot selections in the United States, Europe and more generally, throughout the Western world, have been more than influenced by this film. While Western air forces have been facing, for the most part and for several years, a significant shortage of candidates, the imminent arrival of Top Gun: Maverick therefore represents an important and undisguised hope, even as tensions in the world are constantly growing, and that the air force component is becoming more and more technical and requires profiles accordingly, and that recruitment campaigns have struggled to respond to this in recent years.

In 1991, when I took part in the selections for the pilot course of the French naval aeronautics, there was not a candidate who did not know the film by heart, and who did not dream of being on board one of these aircraft. Later, after passing the selections in flight and joining the common core with the Air Force in Cognac, all the student pilots wore patch-covered jackets and sunglasses they barely put their foot out of the air. base. A few years later, once in an operational unit, I noticed that the influence of film went far beyond the small circle of pilots, and had affected all newcomers, whether flying or not, in naval aeronautics. , as in the Air Force. The phenomenon was the same everywhere in Europe and the United States, with a massive and constant influx of candidates for all the specialties related to aeronautics for many years.

The 2011 Chinese film Sky Fighter uses many codes from Top Gun (1986), including in the screenplay

For the French Navy as well as for the Air Force, the US Air Force and the US Navy, this film had indeed constituted the best promotion and recruitment campaign ever organized, and this as much as its effectiveness will last for more than a decade, and as said in the introduction, even continues to be felt more than 35 years after its release in dark rooms. Moreover, many armies have tried to reproduce the method with other films, whether Russia with the recent Nebo (2021), China with Sky Fighter (2011), South Korea with Windfighter (2013) or France with the Knights of Heaven (2005). Beyond the sole subject of fighter planes, the armies have on several occasions supported film projects precisely to arouse vocations, as was the case for the US Navy with the 2018 submarine film Hunter-Killer, but also through television series, such as The Last Ship (2014-2018) and JAG (1995-2005) for the US Navy, or the excellent Sea Patrol (2007-2011) of the Royal Australian Navy, without forgetting the two French series Les Chevaliers du Ciel (1967-1970 and 1988).


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