I may have had a full-on "Top Gun" moment last week, folks.

At least, I think I had a "Top Gun" moment. Truth be told, I have no idea what a "Top Gun" moment is because I've never seen "Top Gun." As I have with all movies starring a certain shiny-veneered thespian with the unmitigated gall to have once married MY future wife, Katie Holmes, I took a pass.

Here is precisely everything I know about "Top Gun": Some dudes fly planes. Berlin sings what might be the only '80s song I truly despise. Someone feels the need for speed. And worst of all, I'm pretty sure Tom Cruise's character does not die, and I hate movies with sad endings.

Still, I think I had a moment that captured the essence of "Top Gun."

It was lunchtime, and I was leaving the office in search of fast food. I'd been listening to a quiet podcast during my commute that morning and had left the volume on my car stereo fully jacked. When I turned the key, it kicked on. But instead of the quiet podcast, it defaulted to a dance music channel on satellite radio, and suddenly vintage house music was blaring out my speakers at an entirely inappropriate, unprofessional and unhealthy decibel level.

In other words, it was awesome.

Instantly I was swept back to my raver days of 1992, when my biggest concern in life was funky dope beats and how to make them funkier. For a fleeting moment, I didn't care what any of my co-workers or our customers may have thought (apologies all around). The publisher of the paper could have been pulling into the lot with Donald Trump and Joe Biden for all I cared. For just a moment, I was going to sit there, close my eyes, lean back, and let the bass thump.

But that's when a new noise popped in. Somewhere behind the familiar oontz-oontz-oontz of some sweaty French DJ, I heard it.


Man, I didn't remember the bassline in this song being that wicked.


Suddenly I realized what was happening. "No way," I thought to myself as I sprung open the car door and leaped out.


And that's when my subwoofer immediately lost the good fight to the majestic thunder of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, which were soaring through the sky overhead in a formation so tight it looked as if they were only inches apart. The fly-by was so low I could actually see the pilots' heads in the cockpits. Like that stupid Berlin song, it literally took my breath away.

As it turns out, I have an instinctive reaction to witnessing a squadron of F/A-18 Hornets soundtracked to wicked house music. And that reaction, friends, was to yell "YEAAAAH!" and throw a clenched fist triumphantly to the heavens. I've never seen "Top Gun," but that has to be something Tom Cruise would do, right?

Any sane person who happened upon our parking lot at that moment may have thought what he clearly witnessed was a fat man having a spontaneous midlife crisis. But I thought I was living the dream — well, until I sheepishly realized how ridiculous I must have looked before quickly returning my arm to a normal and decidedly less triumphant position, turning down the volume on my stereo, and self-consciously driving away.

But let's be honest: The Blue Angels are rad. As far as I'm concerned, they should headline the air show every year. I've witnessed them a handful of times, and they never fail to amaze. The Blue Angels pilots are military folks who have crossed the line from heroes to death-defying lunatics, and I love 'em for it. No words can properly express the respect I have for the speed, precision, and technical might of those magnificent men and women and their flying machines.

There's nothing like witnessing aeronautics in motion — provided I'm safely on terra firma. Flying is not for me. I lose my stomach when I reach the second rung of a ladder, let alone pulling 5.2 G's in a vertical ascent to 8,000 feet.

Occasionally the Angels invite local journalists up for an aerial cruise. Not that they'd ever turn to the dude who writes about cats and bad TV, but trust me when I say they can spare the call. I guarantee I'd be the first ride-along to use the barf bag before the plane even fired up.

I am, however, a fan of watching others defy gravity. YouTube offers a surplus of amazing flight videos, from the Blue Angels to beyond. One of my favorites is a guy named Tucker Gott who fills his YouTube channel with paramotoring videos. That's the hobby and/or suicidal death wish where you put on a parachute, strap a gas-powered fan to your back, and literally wing it. His selfie videos, in which he's basically open-air cruising at 8,000 feet in a wind-fueled lawn chair, are unreal. Except they ARE real, which is even more unreal.

In this world, there are some who slip the surly bonds of Earth and forge a new path through the heavens — and there are others who yell, "YEAAAAH!" and fist-pump like no one else is watching. I'm pretty sure I know which camp I fall in.

Thanks for a great air show, Blue Angels. You're welcome back anytime I need another "Top Gun" moment. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a huge stack of Tom Cruise movies to not watch.

Shane Brown is a columnist for the Dispatch-Argus-QCOnline.com. Email him at sbrown@qconline.com or visit his blog at shanebrown.blogspot.com.


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