Air Force Wants to Remind 'Top Gun' Fans Which Service Actually Has 'Air' in the Name

Air Force recruiting commercial
As seen in this screenshot of the Air Force's new airpower-centric ad "Own the Sky," some of the Air Force’s 5th generation fighter pilots are seen pulling Gs and performing high-speed maneuvers civilians might only see at an air show. (USAF photo)

Pre-movie commercials are a standard part of the theater experience these days, and moviegoers who buy a ticket to "Top Gun: Maverick" will see a recruiting ad presented by the United States Air Force.

We still haven't been able to confirm claims that Navy recruiting went up 500% in 1986 after the release of the original "Top Gun," but that number has been quoted so many times in the decades since that everyone believes it's true, no matter what.

So it only makes sense that Air Force recruiters want in on any patriotic excitement generated by "Top Gun: Maverick" for a new generation. Here's the commercial.


If your commercial announces that "the entire sky belongs to us" just before audiences are going to spend a couple of hours watching Navy aviators race across the only sky we have, that pretty much qualifies as straight-up smack talk.

The flight footage rivals what you're going to see on screen in "Top Gun: Maverick," so the Air Force realized what it is up against and the service brought its A-game to the spot.

"We want to get Americans excited about what it means to serve this great nation," Maj. Gen. Ed Thomas, commander of the Air Force Recruiting Service, said in a press release. "The air superiority in this video just gives you a glimpse of a small percentage of what is possible when you join us."

The spot shows off a wide array of Air Force planes, including the B-2 stealth bomber, a CV-22, the A-10, an A-130 and F-16, F22 and F-35 fighter jets. Not disclosed: the percentage of Air Force recruits who ever get to pilot one of these planes.

The Air Force wants to challenge a new generation of pilots with a basic question: Do you want to tell everyone that you fly planes for the Air Force, or do you want to spend the rest of your life trying to convince everyone that the Navy has planes, too?

This particular Air Force/Navy showdown begins May 27, 2022, when "Top Gun: Maverick" opens in theaters.

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