PATUXENT RIVER, Maryland – Sailors, personnel, and families were treated to an advance screening of Top Gun: Maverick at the Center Stage Theater at NAS Patuxent River on May 21.

More than 300 were in attendance for the event, including Vice Adm. Carl Chebi, Commander, Naval Air Systems Command, and Capt. John Brabazon, NAS Patuxent River commanding officer.

Tickets were distributed by senior leadership at NAS Pax River and its mission partner commands on base to a lucky few in the days leading up to the sneak preview. Prior to the event, Chebi and Brabazon spoke to public affairs representatives about the impact of Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), Naval Air Warfare Center-Aircraft Division (NAWCAD), and NAS Patuxent River on the film and the team’s enthusiasm for naval aviation.

“Tonight’s going to be a great event,” said Brabazon. “We have tons of Sailors in attendance, Vice Admiral Chebi’s going to kick it off – our admiral is a Top Gun graduate – so we are thrilled to get this sneak preview tonight.”

Making the sneak preview at NAS Patuxent River special was some personnel’s connection to the film’s production. NAWCAD’s DAiTA Group’s Prototyping Instrumentation & Experimentation (PIE) Department Aircraft Instrumentation Division (AID) at Pax River was responsible for capturing some of the specialized aerial footage used in the film. AID’s technicians designed and mounted internal and external camera equipment on F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets to get the practical effect shots. Some of the AID staff even served on location during the film’s production as technicians and troubleshooters. These highly trained technicians and engineers were commanded by leadership for their hard work, not just on Top Gun: Maverick, but to the entire DoD. 

“They not only worked on this movie, and they did – you’ll see NAVAIR, NAWCAD, and NAWCWD employees’ tremendous support to this movie – but even more importantly, they’re supporting our warfighter. They are delivering the warfighting capability our fleet needs to win at a cost we can afford. And I’m tremendously proud of the entire NAVAIR team for what they do each and every day.” 

The original Top Gun is known for its impact on the public, cementing its role in pop culture and raising the profile of the U.S. Navy and naval aviation during the 1980s and beyond. Viewers at the Pax River sneak preview had similar expectations for Top Gun: Maverick. 

“I know it will inspire the next generation because when you feel the need for speed and you get to watch it on TV or in a movie, I think they will be excited to jump in that cockpit just like I was back in the day,” said retired Capt. Heidi Flemming, a naval aviator, and former commanding officer of NAS Patuxent River. 

The United States Navy U.S. Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN) was established in 1969 in an effort to develop and disseminate effective modern tactics to the fighter community. When the school’s graduates returned to the fleet in the early 1970s, the Navy’s air-to-air combat successes increased.

“Top Gun: Maverick” premiered in theaters on May 27, 2022. 

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