After U.S. Navy “Topgun” fighter pilot Dave “Bio” Baranek retired from active duty in 1999, he worked with the BBC on a 2004 story about the famous Hollywood film for which he provided aerial sequences and was later quoted in an unauthorized 2008 biography of Tom Cruise written by British journalist Andrew Morton. Now, with the 25th anniversary of Top Gun‘s release upon us, Baranek’s full-length 2010 domestic memoir is getting a renewed PR push.
The Cruise project was sparked by an article in California magazine by Ehud Yonay. The piece caught the attention of Jerry Bruckheimer and the late Don Simpson, leading quickly to a writer and several other Paramount Pictures fact-finders soaking up the lingo at the Naval Fighter Weapons School in Miramar, California. Writes Baranek (pictured) in Topgun Days:
The Hollywood team had several misunderstandings during their visit… For example, we used the term “p-sub-s” for an aircraft’s ability to maneuver. This was used in the early script as “piece of s.”
Another one was their use of the term “went ballistic,” the writer just didn’t use it right. These small errors caused great amusement in the ready room.
When Baranek first met Cruise, he was 27 to the actor’s 23. Remarkably, the year “Bio” (short for “Bionic”) became a Topgun instructor at age 20, he was the only one of 451 eligible Navy Flight Officers to make the hallowed grade.