Posted: 07/04/2011


TopGun Days: Dogfighting, Cheating Death, and Hollywood Glory As One of America’s Best Fighter Jocks

by Dave “Bio” Baranek

Reviewed by Rachel Conroy

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When I was first asked to read and review TopGun Days: Dogfighting, Cheating Death, and Hollywood Glory As One of America’s Best Fighter Jocks, I assumed it was author Dave “Bio” Baranek’s account on turning Hollywood’s fighter pilot drama into a big screen sensation. I quickly learned that I had assumed wrong.

Baranek takes us on an in-depth voyage of his life as being one of 451 men chosen as a Naval Flight Officer, to becoming a TopGun instructor just 4 years later. An incredible accomplishment when they appoint only one individual for the job.

His tales of dogfighting, surviving a crash, regularly flying at speeds of 1,000 mph, and launching missiles at targets makes for a thrilling and engaging read and rivals anything we’ve seen or heard on naval aviation. Baranek uses military jargon, but explains what each word or acronym means, even providing us with a glossary in the back.

Just when Baranek believed his career couldn’t soar any higher, he and a few others were asked to assist Paramount Pictures in the making of Top Gun. Their job was to make sure the terminology used in the film was authentic and terms were not to be misused. At the time Tom Cruise was slated to star in the film, and as Baranek recalls, “most of us had barley heard of him.” When Baranek finally met Cruise, he was enthusiastic, armed with questions about jet fighters and ready to learn anything and everything for his role.

I thoroughly enjoyed Baranek’s honest and genuine approach to the world of TopGun, and I recommend to anyone with even the slightest interest in naval aviation.

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Rachel Conroy is a writer, editor, and all around cool chick living in Chicago.

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