TOPGUN, the United States Navy's elite fighter pilot training school, fines its students $5 for referencing the 1986 Tom Cruise film Top Gun, according to retired Navy commander Guy "Bus" Snodgrass. The former TOPGUN instructor has written a book, TOPGUN's Top 10: Leadership Lessons from the Cockpit, and shared that the rule is in place because the pilots need to be on the top of their game, ie. not joking around about the school.
While assuming that the reason for the rule against "Top Gun" quotes is that TOPGUN instructors are tired of hearing "you can be my wingman any time" or "your ego is writing checks your body can't cash" is reasonable, there is actually more to it than that, Snodgrass explained…
He revealed that as a junior officer, it was common for pilots to make jokes and throw out lines from the movie. "It's ingrained in our culture to a certain extent," he said.
"But," Snodgrass explained, "when you get to TOPGUN, because it is such a professional organization and you want to emphasize that you are at the top of your game, that it's about professionalism, about good leadership, you don't turn TOPGUN into a joke by referencing the movie."