November 29, 2022
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Real Top Gun pilot reflects on the accuracy and entertainment of ‘Top Gun: Maverick’

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – A Madison-based pilot enjoyed the entertainment of “Top Gun: Maverick” and says parts of the film are accurate, but not all of it.

Vice Commander Col. Charlie Merkel of the 115th Fighters Wing in Madison graduated from the Navy Fighter Weapons School which is the program that inspired the film “Top Gun”.

The vice commander flies an F-16 Fighting Falcon at least once every week and helps run the Truax Field program.

Their missions include an overseas journey with 12 airplanes and 300 troops, training for homeland defense and supporting troops on the ground.

Col. Merkel said at first he thought the original 1986 film was overrated, but that it eventually grew on him

He said the new film portrays flight missions accurately. The physical toll it takes on a pilot’s body to stay awake and stay up right is a real challenge they face. He said the rivalry between the pilots in the film is not accurate.

”Fighter pilots tend to be competitive by nature but I don’t think it’s as aggressive as what they portray in the movie,” Col. Merkel said. ”In the movie that tends to come out in the flying scenes where their competitiveness comes out in how they fly and that’s not really accurate.”

He said no one competes for a “best pilot” title and that each member of the team is at different parts of their career.

“Going back to the original movie, do we ever worry about who’s the best pilot?” Col. Merkel said. “That’s not really quantifiable. You know?”

Regardless of the dramatic liberties taken in the Tom Cruise films, Col. Merkel said both films are good publicity for the military.

”I think this will be a good recruiting tool for all of the services for sure,” Col. Merkel said.

Copyright 2022 WMTV. All rights reserved.



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