Meeting the original Top Gun!

Today has been a fabulous day! A bunch of us journalists were invited to interact with Admiral Robert F Willard, Commander of the US Pacific Fleet who is on an official visit to India. An accomplished F-14 pilot who has pretty much had all the dream appointments of any US Naval aviator, the Admiral has a special bond with Hollywood.

Admiral Willard, it is little known, was the aerial coordinator for the 1986 film Top Gun, and flew every one of the fictitious enemy MiG-28 (a Northrop F-5 painted black) and A-4 Skyhawk sorties depicted the film's enthralling merge/dogfight sequences. So he was basically flew all the flights flown by the nameless black-helmeted MiG-28 pilot and the instructor Jester's sorties in the A-4.

"A great memory for me and my family, who got to watch the volleyball scene we shot. Especially for me, to have flown in it. So my claim to fame is, I'm the guy in the black helmet. And that helmet, still sits under glass in my office in Pearl Harbour," he told me when I asked him about the memories.

Admiral Willard was XO at the Naval Fighter Weapons School Top Gun at the time. Great man. When I asked him about the unlikelihood of merge/dogfight combat in modern aerial warfare, he had cheeky smile and said, "No matter how far technology of aerial warfare goes, I like to think the dogfight is still a reality, at least in concept."

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