PENSACOLA, Fla. (WALA) - Some of the world's best fighter pilots are in Pensacola training right now. The Navy's elite TOPGUN program flew in from Nevada to train over the Gulf of Mexico for the next few days.
They're the best of the best. Handpicked by their commanding officers, the U.S. Navy pilots that make the TOPGUN program are trained to master the most advanced war planes in the world. While in the 10 week program the pilot's combat skills are fine tuned, but they're also taught something else.
"We are also teaching them to be teachers, so there is a lot of instructional time spent on how to instruct on some common areas that they need to be able to teach to…instruct and be able to relate to students," said TOPGUN Commanding Officer Kevin McLaughlin.
The students are near the beginning of the course. It started with classroom instruction, but has now moved on to the hands on business of air-to-air combat. They've come to Pensacola strictly to practice dog fighting maneuvers.
"Pensacola has a wonderful area in which we can fight just south of the field, very close to the field. So we can fight to relatively low fuel states," McLaughlin said.
The way the dog fight works is one of the instructors flies the "bogie" aircraft or the bad guy. They fly in planes painted brown. The student will engage the instructor head-on and the dogfight ensues.
"It is rare indeed that a student is going to beat an instructor because we spend a lot of time doing that, so as guys go out, they're typically trying to hold their own," McLaughlin remarked.
And if you're wondering if Commander Kevin McLaughlin made any references to the blockbuster movie hit Top Gun, you're out of luck.
"One of the rules of a TOPGUN instructor is you can never quote the movie or it's a fine of either a beer or a monetary fine so you will not see me quote anything here," McLaughlin said with a laugh.
The TOPGUN detachment will be in town through January 24 lighting up the skies and each other. The detachment will return to their home base in Fallon, Nevada, next Thursday where they will begin air-to-ground training.
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