Need for speed fulfilled with release of 'Top Gun: Maverick'

  • Published
  • By John Ingle
  • 82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas — The need for speed was satisfied here May 27, 2022, when “Top Gun: Maverick” debuted at the Sheppard theater.

And what better place to show the blockbuster movie featuring Tom Cruise than the home of the 80th Flying Training Wing’s Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program, where combat airpower is developed for the alliance.

Col. Robert J. Haas Jr., 80th FTW commander and veteran F-16 pilot, and Col. Scott A. Gunn, 80th FTW vice commander and veteran F-35 and F-15 pilot, got the show started with their own re-enactment of the famous Maverick and Goose proclamation of a need for speed and a high-five.

Haas said he recalls watching the movie in 1986 as a college graduate and the impression it made on the nation and the world. He said he became more focused on preparation to be an Air Force combat pilot.

“This movie is quite inspirational,” he said. “Here at Sheppard Air Force Base, where combat capability starts, it means something. So whether you’re turning wrenches or fixing avionics, controlling folks in the air traffic control tower or you’re out flying airplanes, this — even though it’s Navy — is what we all do each and every day.”

Gunn said that while he was not in high school or college when the original “Top Gun” came out, he was still an impressionable you when he first saw the F-14 Tomcat on the big screen. Even the soundtrack to the feature film became his favorite.

“It was one of the motivations of why I joined the military,” he said. “I know we have a lot of (Airmen in Training) in the house, and you all have your own reasons for why you joined the military. It probably wasn’t “Top Gun,” but if it was, good on you for enjoying the classics.”

Gunn said he hopes this sequel will spur another generation of warfighters regardless the branch of service much like the original film did in the mid- to late-80s, whether it's the Navy as seen in the movie, or the correct choice with the Air Force, he quipped.

Army-Air Force Exchange Services General Manager Mikel Hunter said there was no better way to reopen the theater after a 2 ½ year hiatus. A lot of work went into bringing the theater up to standard such as new equipment, he said, just in time for this movie.

Hunter applauded the theater staff for the work they put in over the two weeks leading up to the release.

“I wouldn’t be standing here today if I didn’t have a great team that was making it happen,” he said. 

For information about showtimes at the theater, visit The Exchange | Exchange Stores | Movie Guide | Showtimes | Sheppard AFB (