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First F-35C Pilots Graduate from TOPGUN

Two F-35C pilots are the first naval aviators to graduate from the TOPGUN course flying the fifth-generation Joint Strike Fighter, the Navy announced.

Marine Maj. Derek Heinz and Navy Lt. William Goodwin are among the latest graduates of the Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor course, run at Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nev. Heinz is a member of the “Rough Raiders” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 125, and Goodwin is a member of the “Argonauts” of VFA-147, both F-35C Lightning II squadrons based at NAS Lemoore, Calif.

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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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