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Bring Navy pilot school back to California

Bring back Topgun!

By that, I do not mean ?Top Gun,? the cliche-ridden Tom Cruise film about naval fighter pilots in San Diego. That ?Top Gun? is already on its way back, with a sequel due next year.

What California really needs is Topgun, the U.S. Navy?s graduate school for elite fighter pilots that inspired the movie. For three decades, Topgun thrived in San Diego ? before it moved to the Nevada desert, as part of the 1990s military consolidation. Its departure still burns. Topgun was a human-centered institution that studied the failures of naval aviation in order to train better pilots. It is precisely this spirit that today?s California, drunk on technology and celebrating its own successes, desperately needs now.

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Brett Vance, Host of TV?s Jet Jockeys, Discusses the Devastating Impact of Military Pilot Shortages

It?s no secret that the Air Force is short on pilots. In fact, at the end of 2018, the service was in need of roughly 2,000 pilots. However, a new study the Defense Department delivered to Congress sheds more light on the makeup of the shortage and the exact challenges the Air Force and DoD have in digging out of the hole.

?Pilot shortages in the military are a recurring problem,? explains Brett Vance, host of TV?s Jet Jockeys, ?As a career fighter pilot and test pilot in the Air Force, I have personally seen these pilot manning numbers swing to both sides of the pendulum several times. With booming economies, pilots are attracted to the generally higher-paying civilian jobs, such as the major airlines or large aircraft manufacturers. In contracting economies, pilots gravitate toward the security of a military career, despite the seemingly constant deployments.?

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Fighter jock culture may be holding Air Force back, Rand study says

The Air Force has been long dominated by fighter pilots at its senior leadership levels, but as careers in the service have become more diverse, a change in promotion preferences may be required to foster the innovation culture that also defines the service.

As it stands, the mass of fighter pilots in high-level leadership roles creates a hierarchy within the service, with fighter pilots first, bombers second and other specializations after, according to a recent Rand study sponsored by the Defense Department?s Office of Net Assessment.

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