TOP GUN DAYS 2023

A Unique and Exclusive Event That Takes You Behind-The-Scenes With The Real-Life Top Guns! 


Join us for three unforgettable days here in San Diego, where you'll embark on an incredible journey inside the world of Top Gun. 


With insider stories from the real-life heroes who brought Top Gun and Top Gun Maverick to life, this is your chance to live out your Top Gun dreams. 


Whether you're happy going Mach 2 with your hair on fire or want to give it just a little push to go Mach 10 with your tail on fire, buckle up, strap in, and get ready for the ride of your life. Your Top Gun adventure awaits!



Some of our TOPGUN speakers from Top Gun Days 2022. Left to right: Adm. Pete VIPER Pettigrew. (Ret), CDR. David BIO Baranek. (Ret), CDR. Jim JAMBO Ray. (Ret), CDR Lloyd BOZO Abel, (Ret), CDR CJ HEATER Heatley, (Ret). 


Our VIP Speakers for 2023 Include:


Frank "Walleye" Weisser, a veteran Blue Angel pilot, flew the F-18 during iconic scenes in Top Gun Maverick.


Kevin LaRosa II, the Ariel coordinator for Top Gun Maverick.


Aaron “Vern” Vernallis, the F-18 pilot who raced Maverick along the runway in Top Gun Maverick.


Amy Heflin, the real “Phoenix” of Top Gun Maverick. She flew as “Phoenix” with Monica Barbaro and “Bob” (Lewis Pullman).


CJ "Heater" Heatley, a TOPGUN graduate and former instructor, who played a vital role in making Top Gun.


Maggie Kohl, the real-life "Comanche" and active-duty servicewoman, appearing in Top Gun Maverick as the E-2 Operator.


John Semcken, a real-life TOPGUN graduate and technical advisor for Top Gun.


Jim “Jambo” Ray, a real-life TOPGUN instructor who flew in Top Gun 1985.


Javier Medina, Petty Officer US Navy, Aircraft Director and Flightdeck Safety on the USS Enterprise during the filming of Top Gun 1985.



Discover Why We Chose These Incredible TOPGUN Speakers


Frank "WALLEYE" Weisser

In "Top Gun Maverick," Frank "Walleye" Weisser, a two-time Blue Angels pilot, faced the challenge of flying the F-18 in ways never attempted before. His precision flying expertise was tested as he took on daredevil aerial stunts that left even the US Navy questioning if it could be done.  


One such feat was the Lawrence of Arabia maneuver, requiring Frank to fly lower than any Navy pilot would ever dream of. But his unmatched skills, honed as a Blue Angels veteran, allowed him to execute the maneuver flawlessly. Another adrenaline-pumping moment was the canyon run scene, where Frank had to fly at breakneck speeds, narrowly skimming the canyon face with just 20 feet of clearance.  


Upon completing the breathtaking canyon run, Tom Cruise praised Frank's performance as perfect, to which Frank candidly replied, "Great, because I wouldn't ever want to do that again."  

Kevin LaRosa II

Kevin LaRosa II, the aerial coordinator for Top Gun: Maverick, soared to new heights while filming the breathtaking aerial sequences that have become synonymous with the Top Gun franchise. With over 800 hours of heart-stopping, gravity-defying footage, Kevin played an instrumental role in bringing the movie's high-octane action to life.    


At Top Gun Days 2023, Kevin will take you on a thrilling journey behind the scenes of Top Gun: Maverick, revealing the challenges, triumphs, and sheer dedication that went into capturing those awe-inspiring aerial shots. 

Aaron "VERN" Vernallis

In Top Gun Maverick, Aaron “Vern” Vernallis took on the exhilarating task of piloting the F-18 that raced alongside Maverick on his motorbike down the runway, echoing the iconic scene from the first Top Gun movie. Behind the seamless on-screen portrayal were countless challenges and potential dangers that Vern had to overcome to ensure the safety of everyone involved.   


In a serendipitous twist, Vern stepped in to lend his own flight gear to Tom Cruise for a photo shoot when the actor needed it. This act of camaraderie resulted in the creation of the now-famous "Need For Speed" movie poster. 

Amy "BACON" Heflin

Amy Heflin, a skilled US Navy pilot, played a pivotal role in bringing the adrenaline-pumping aerial sequences of Top Gun Maverick to life. Behind the scenes, she expertly navigated the F-18 jet while flying with Monica Barbaro (Phoenix) and Lewis Pullman (Bob) in the backseat for the movie's high-octane scenes.


Her commitment to the film went even further, as she lent her skills as a safety observer, ensuring the well-being of the cast and crew during the complex aerial shoots.


As a crucial part of the production, Amy helped install and set up the six cameras that captured the breathtaking cockpit footage of Phoenix in action. 

CJ "HEATER" Heatley

CJ "Heater" Heatley, a US Navy TOPGUN graduate and former instructor, played an integral and often unsung role in making the 1986 classic movie Top Gun. His exceptional photography skills and unique style profoundly impacted the film's iconic imagery and the vision of its director, Tony Scott.   

Heater's aerial photography, showcased in the 1983 California Magazine article "Top Guns," caught the attention of Don Simpson, who was inspired to create the movie. Heater's eye for detail and ability to capture the essence of the aviation experience would later shape the cinematic masterpiece.  

Maggie "COMANCHE" Khol

When the filming of Top Gun Maverick commenced, Maggie Kohl was serving in the US Navy as an aircrew member of the E-2 Hawkeye aircraft.


Initially, Maggie was tasked with 'babysitting' the Navy's E-2 aircraft during the movie's production, ensuring its operational integrity and preventing any accidental damage by the film crew. 


As the need arose for an internal shot of the E-2 with an actor portraying an aircrew member, Maggie stepped into the role of the E-2 operator with the callsign "COMANCHE," bringing a level of realism and authenticity to Top Gun Maverick that only someone with her experience could provide. 

John Semcken

When it came to ensuring the authenticity and accuracy of the original Top Gun movie, John Semcken, a real-life TOPGUN pilot, was the man for the job. His extensive knowledge and experience as a TOPGUN graduate made him the ideal technical advisor for the film.


Being present at the filming of every scene involving military personnel, equipment, or locations, John ensured that the Top Gun production team had unprecedented access to US Navy facilities, enabling them to make Top Gun better than any other aviation movie at that time.

Jim "JAMBO" Ray

In the world of naval aviation, few pilots possess the skill, expertise, and dedication of Jim "Jambo" Ray, a real-life TOPGUN graduate and instructor. When it came to bringing the thrilling dogfighting scenes of the original Top Gun movie to life, Jambo was the perfect choice to fly the F-4s and F-5s as Jester and Viper, the skilled aggressor aircraft pilots.


Drawing on his experience as a TOPGUN instructor, Jambo showcased his exceptional piloting abilities in the iconic movie, flying in ways that deviated from standard training exercises. His commitment to delivering director Tony Scott's vision while ensuring the safety of his aircraft and fellow pilots made the movie's aerial combat scenes unforgettable and exhilarating.

Javier Medina

As an Aircraft Director and Flight Deck Safety officer on the USS Enterprise during the filming of Top Gun in 1985, Javier got a Bird's Eye View of Top Gun being filmed on the aircraft carrier.


His hilarious recounting of the unforgettable moment when two of the movie's F-14s unexpectedly landed on his flight deck with unfamiliar aircrew names and insignia offers a unique perspective on the making of Top Gun through the eyes of someone serving aboard the USS Enterprise during the filming of Top Gun.


Here's What You'll Experience On Each Day Of The Event


Your event ticket gives you access to all 3 of these days.

Click on each day's section to reveal the itinerary for that day. 

Friday 12th May 2023

FRIDAY 12TH MAY 2023 - WELCOME RECEPTION 6PM - 10PM


Building 177, 2875 Dewey Rd, San Diego, CA 92106. 


Mingle with fellow Top Gun fans from around the globe in a relaxed but fun-filled environment. Savor complimentary hors d’oeuvres and indulge in bar service as you groove to the beats of our renowned DJ, Chris Olivas, former drummer for the band Berlin. Bring your best moves and get ready to dazzle in the company of your fellow Top Gun Fans. Collect your EVENT PASS, swag bag, and event t-shirt.

 

Doors open at 5:30pm with the reception officially beginning at 6PM

Saturday 13th May 2023

SATURDAY 13TH MAY 2023 - VIP GUEST SPEAKERS EVENT 


Building 177, 2875 Dewey Rd, San Diego, CA 92106, United States.  


Are you ready to take a deep dive into the making of Top Gun and Top Gun Maverick? You will have the opportunity to meet and listen to their inspiring, breathtaking, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, adrenalin, behind-the-scenes stories from Top Gun and Top Gun Maverick:


These are the VIP Guest Speakers you'll get to meet and listen to their inspiring, breathtaking, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, adrenalin, and behind-the-scenes stories from Top Gun and Top Gun Maverick on Saturday, May 13th, 2023.


Frank "Walleye" Weisser, a veteran of the Blue Angels, is the man behind the stick for some of the most iconic scenes in the new "Top Gun Maverick" movie. He will share his incredible stories of flying the F-18 during the canyon run, the low-level Lawrence of Arabia maneuver and many other low-level flight scenes we saw in the movie.

 

Kevin LaRosa II, the Ariel coordinator for Top Gun Maverick, who shot over 800 hours of aerial footage for the movie, will give us a behind-the-scenes look at what it took to capture those fantastic aerial shots we all can't wait to see on the big screen. In addition, he will be sharing his experiences working with the film's stars and what it was like to be a part of such an iconic movie. 

 

Aaron “Vern” Vernallis, the F-18 pilot who raced Maverick on his motorbike down the runway, will spill all the behind-the-scenes stories about how that scene was shot multiple times over 2 years. And get this, he even lent Tom Cruise his own flight gear for the iconic "Feel the need" picture! You'll have the chance to see his flight gear up close and personal at the event. 


Amy Heflin, the real “Phoenix” of Top Gun Maverick, was an integral part of the movie's filming, serving as a safety observer for the camera crew and helping to install and set up the six cameras that bring the action to life on the big screen. She flew for Phoenix and Bob, participating in the snow scenes in Whidbey Island and the BFM in the mountains east of Lemoore, CA. You'll have the opportunity to hear Heflin's exclusive behind-the-scenes stories about what it was like to fly for the best movie of 2022 and get to fly as one of the leading characters.  


CJ "Heater" Heatley, a TOPGUN graduate and former instructor, played a vital role in making the iconic movie. He will be sharing his stories, insights and behind-the-scenes of the making of the film. Not only did his photography skills and style influence Tony Scott during the filming, but they were also a key factor in the movie's creation. His aerial photography was featured in the 1983 California Magazine article "Top Guns", which inspired Don Simpson to make the movie.  


Maggie Kohl, Get ready to meet the real-life 'Comanche'. As the E-2 callsign in 'Top Gun Maverick', we are thrilled to have Maggie join us as a guest speaker. Imagine hearing firsthand accounts of the movie filming from an active-duty servicewoman who was there! Maggie went from babysitting the E-2 used in the movie and the film crew to appearing in the movie as 'Comanche'. This is your chance to learn more about the E-2 aircraft and its crew directly from the person who did it for a living and in the movie.  


John Semcken, a real-life TOPGUN pilot and technical advisor for Top Gun, will take us behind the scenes of the film that made us fall in love with naval aviation. As a graduate of TOPGUN, he served as the technical advisor for the film and will be sharing his experiences and insights into the making of the movie.  


Jim “Jambo” Ray, a real-life TOPGUN graduate and instructor. He was part of the flight crew who flew the F-4s and F-5s as Jester and Viper in the original Top Gun movie. We’ll hear what it was like to fly as one of the aggressor aircraft for those amazing dogfighting scenes that still thrill and excite us more than 35 years later.  


Javier Medina, Aircraft Director, Flightdeck Safety, aboard the USS ENTERPRISE during the filming of Top Gun and got to hang out with the actors off-set on the ship and watch many of the flight deck scenes being filmed.  


They will share their never before heard, behind-the-scenes stories of their time working on the making of Top Gun and Top Gun Maverick, as well as some of the new CGI technology and the technical advisors from the military who worked on the set to pull off an amazing film.  


Not only that, but we will also have some of our all-time favorite guest speakers returning to go into further detail on how things differ from our original beloved 1986 movie and today’s tricks of the trade. The event includes a Q&A session with each speaker and the opportunity to get signed photos and selfies with them.  


Catered lunch and beverages are included with your ticket.  

Slaters 50/50 will provide amazing lunch for you at the venue, so you won’t have to worry about leaving the event in search of food and drinks. 

Sunday 14th May 2023

SUNDAY 14TH MAY 2023 - USS MIDWAY & KANSAS CITY BBQ  


The USS Midway in the morning - Visit USS Midway located at 910 N. Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101.


Start your Sunday morning with a relaxing tour of the USS Midway. The ship is open to the public from 10 am to 4 pm, and it's a self-paced tour, allowing you to explore the ship at your own pace. 


Tickets can be purchased directly from the USS Midway website, https://www.midway.org/visit/buy-tickets/ 


Kansas City BBQ in the afternoon - 600 W Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101.


Wrap up the Top Gun Days 2023 event in style! Join us at the iconic filming location of the 1986 blockbuster film at Kansas City BBQ from 3 PM onwards. Give your best rendition of “Great Balls of Fire” as you enjoy camaraderie with your fellow Top Gun enthusiasts. 


*Your Top Gun Days event pass will be required at Kansas City BBQ. 


Don't let this opportunity pass you by. Join us this May, in San Diego, for the exclusive Top Gun Fan event of the year that's not available anywhere else. Get your front seat to an action-packed experience of the making of Top Gun and Top Gun Maverick while being part of the global fan community of minded fans.  


Event Location: Building 177, 2875 Dewey Rd, San Diego, CA 92106, USA.

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ORDER YOUR TOP GUN DAYS 2023 TICKETS HERE

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Top Gun Days 2023 San Diego
$233.99

Here's a Look Back At Just a Few Photos From The Top Gun Days 2022 Event

In this once-in-a-lifetime event, Top Gun Days 2023 promises an unparalleled experience for die-hard fans of the legendary Top Gun movies. An exclusive, never-to-be-repeated gathering that brings you up close with the real-life heroes who played an integral part in creating the iconic aerial sequences and behind-the-scenes magic that captivated audiences worldwide.


From heart-pounding dogfights to the intimate stories shared by those who worked alongside Hollywood's biggest stars, this event offers a rare opportunity to immerse yourself in the world of Top Gun like never before. Hear never-before-shared stories from speakers opening up for the first time, giving you a unique insider's perspective into making these cinematic masterpieces.  


Don't miss out on this unforgettable experience and be a part of an incredible community of fellow aviation and movie enthusiasts. Top Gun Days 2023 is your chance to be a part of history, celebrating the legacy of these iconic films with the very people who brought them to life.  


Secure your spot today and be a part of this exclusive, one-time event that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime. Don't let this unique opportunity fly by; join us for the ultimate Top Gun Days 2023 experience!


There will never be another event like this.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still have questions? Send us your question by filling out the form below, we will be happy to assist you.

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Who is organising the event?
Top Gun Days 2023 is an independently organised event by grass root fans of the movie franchise. It all started with a Top Gun Fans FB Group 4 years ago, now 237,000 members globally https://www.facebook.com/groups/topgunfans.  The company behind that is Hard Deck Media Ltd, 272 Batch Street, Glasgow, United Kingdom G2 4JR. Company Registration: SC753211
When is the event?
The event is on Friday 12th, Saturday 13th and Friday 14th May 2023
Where is it being held?
The welcome reception on Friday 12th and the VIP Speakers event will both be at Building 177, 2875 Dewey Rd, San Diego, CA 92106, USA. On the morning of Sunday 14th May we'll be at the USS Midway located at 910 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101, USA. And in the afternoon we'll be at Kansas City BBQ located at 600 W Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101, USA
Do you provide food and drinks during the event?
During the welcome reception on Friday 12th and the Speakers event in Saturday 13th, we will provide your food and drinks. On Sunday you will need to purchase your own food and drinks while on board the USS Midway and at Kansas City BBQ.
Is accommodation provided?
Your accommodation isn't provided as part of your event ticket but there are a number of hotels and accommodation close to the venue and closely in San Diego.
I still have questions about the event
We're more than happy to answer all of your questions about the event. Please get in touch with us using the contact form on this page and we'll get back to you asap.