Dallas Navy Veteran, Former Top Gun Instructor Talks New ‘Maverick' Film

Outside of Hollywood, Top Gun is a real program, and a North Texas Navy Veteran talked about his time there

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The movie "Top Gun: Maverick" continues to garner rave reviews and proves to be a popular choice at the box office.

"Maverick," the sequel to the 1986 original, features Tom Cruise as a naval aviator training as a fighter pilot at Top Gun, the U.S. Navy's elite Fighter Weapon School.

Jeff Fellows, a former Top Gun instructor and Navy veteran who lives in Dallas, said he served as a commanding officer of a fighter squad at Naval Air Station Lemoore in California while filming was underway for the movie.

“The men and women who make up the Top Gun staff are some of the hardest working most talented, but humble people that I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with," said Fellows.

Fellows recently retired from the U.S. Navy after more than 15 years of service. He was also a student of the program before serving as a Top Gun instructor between 2009 and 2012.

Most of the flying in the movie is real, and Fellows said from his experience, he believes the filmmakers did a great job highlighting what it actually feels like to be in a fighter jet.

“While there are some Hollywood parts, I think what they captured with the dynamic flying and what it feels like in the cockpit environment was really real," said Fellows.

He said he's glad to see that the sequel is bringing awareness to all the hard work that goes on at the real program.

“There’s been a persistent excellence that has been associated with the name Top Gun and Top Gun is a real place. It is filled with real service members, men and women who are working really, really hard, and I think what’s really important is that the men and women that are on the Top Gun staff, they take that task incredibly seriously, they are developing tactics for the Navy, Marine Corps."

"They bare a real responsibility and they take it very, very seriously," he added.

Fellows saw the movie over Memorial Day weekend but saw it again with other Navy Aviators who live in DFW last weekend.

He reflected on when he saw the first movie 36 years ago.

“As kid I remember watching Top Gun relentlessly with my brother. I would say it was definitely an inspirational movie, I didn’t even know how to become a pilot," said Fellows. "We watched the movie, and we would be so excited and we would want to go do something that was fast and dangerous and ride them (bikes) as fast as we could around the neighborhood."

He said watching the sequel was like being, 'introduced to an old friend again."

“It’s an excellent and entertaining movie, but it’s also a really easy way to say, ‘Thank you’ to the armed forces. It’s a really easy way to say, ‘Thank you’ to Navy Aviation for the service that they do," said Fellows.

The Navy said it's hoping that the amount of buzz surrounding the film will not only shed light on what they do as a military unit but inspire a new generation people to enlist.

"Top Gun: Maverick" has generated more than $546 million globally since its release last month, CNBC reported.

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