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Topgun Days: Dogfighting, Cheating Death, and Hollywood Glory as one of America's Best Fighter Jocks Hardcover – June 1, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing (June 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616080051
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616080051
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 6.5 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #901,576 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The author is a retired Naval flight officer, who made several cruises aboard various carriers as the radar operator in the back seat of an F-14. One of those cruises included an ejection when the ship’s arresting gear failed to arrest the F-14 before it went overboard. Even more challenging were his two assignments to the Topgun program, the Navy’s elite fighter-training school, first as a student, then in the coveted position of an instructor. During that second assignment, he also helped with the Navy’s support and the flying sequences of the classic movie Top Gun. (See above for the correct spelling.) The author is a straightforward, even plain writer, but he also has an eye for detail, and gives those details in full measure about experiences for which there is an abiding, even devouring, curiosity among aviation buffs. They will enjoy. --Roland Green

Review

“The author is a straightforward, even plain writer, but he also has an eye for detail, and gives those details in full measure about experiences for which there is an abiding, even devouring, curiosity among aviation buffs. They will enjoy.” (Booklist)

“Dave Baranek isn’t just an observer in this world; he has flown with and taught the best.” (Ed Ruggero, author of The First Men In)

“An engagingly written retrospective.” (Barrett Tillman, author of Victory and Clash of the Carriers)

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Dave "bio" Baranek does an excellent job providing a behind the scenes peek into the real Topgun experience.
G Smith
I highly recommend this book to aviation buffs, F-14 aficionados, and anyone remotely thinking about a career in the Navy and in particular naval aviation.
Lowell E. Waite
At the same time, the language, content and style of the book make it very easy for a complete outsider to follow along and understand.
G. Bruce Greer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By CAPT Spike Prendergast, USN (Ret.) on June 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book and thought it was exceptional. The cover subtitle may be deceptive since the book is really an excellent six to seven year mini-biography of the author's long journey from being a brand new Naval Flight Officer ensign out of flight training, through transition training to become a Grumman F-14 Tomcat Radar Intercept Officer (RIO), through his first squadron tour and two deployments, to his time as a Topgun instructor. During his two years in Topgun, "Bio" worked hard to become a polished and highly respected instructor giving threat and tactics lectures, flight briefs and, of course, flying on regular training exercises. During the latter part of his tour he became involved, as many others at NAS Miramar did, in the filming of the major motion picture "Top Gun" and in making it the success it was. His behind the scenes descriptions about the filming of the movie and his helping make the actors dialogue more creditable is fascinating and informative. Additionally, his insider perspectives on the natural tension between "absolute reality and authenticity" and the often competing requirements of creating a compelling and commercially successful cinematic experience, and how the major active duty Navy pilots and RIOs assigned to the project were able to strike a balance and make credible compromises between fact and fiction are compelling and make for a greater understanding of the movie version.
First and foremost, however, "Bio's" narrative is an exceptionally un-affected and honest telling of the trials and tribulations of a "new guy" trying to learn all there is to know about flying the F-14, adapting and finding his place in squadron life, and the growing pains along the way.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Russell S. Novak Jr. on May 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover
'Bio's' exeptional narrative style really puts you in the cockpit and tells it like it must have been back in the Topgun glory days. I've never seen a clearer, easy-to-understand description of carrier flight operations. This is a must-read for anyone who is interested in behind-the-scenes insights into the making of the Topgun movie, and should be required reading for future and aspiring naval aviators. The book's photos themslves are worth the purchase price! Great read!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Savyon Wasser on September 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Like many other kids and aviation fans around the world, Top Gun (the movie) left me awe struck when it first came out in 1986. Cheesy plot and over-the-top characters aside, no over movie that I have seen since topped the aerial cinematography, showing the classic Tomcat (and other planes) in all its glamour.

A short while after seeing the movie I purchased a book by the same name, authored by the late George Hall, which marvelously documented Topgun during that period in text and photos. One of the photos featured two Topgun instructors "dogfighting" with their hands, with MiG silhouettes painted on the wall behind them. Their names were Greg "Hollywood" Dishart and Dave "Bio" Baranek.

Twenty-five years later, and I, still an aviation buff in the closet, am checking out the store at the Air&Space Museum, Udvar Hazy center while I recognize a name stuck in my head from childhood on an eye catching book cover titled "Topgun days". Rather than purchasing the book on the spot, I rushed home and did some web searching. After checking out Dave "Bio" Baranek's web site (highly recommended), I decided to come back to the museum and purchase the book when he was there for signing.

Meeting "Bio" was a delight. Although he was busy doing some marketing for the book, I managed to spend about five minutes talking to him about aviation stuff and basically enjoying the company of a high energy, really nice guy and a true aviation fan. Before I left with my autographed copy "Bio" inquired how I can help spread the word about his book. Finding out I would be pretty much useless in this regard, we just shook hands and parted as friends (I hope).

Well, "Bio", not all is lost! How about a review in Amazon?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By AV8OR on September 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Top Gun Days is a very unique book. We see many military aviation books that come out from the pilot's point of view. This time around we get to feel what it's like to sit in the back seat and view the fighter world from the eyes of a highly experienced and decorated RIO (Radar Intercept Officer) in the mighty Grumman F-14 Tomcat.

Dave "Bio" Baranek provides the reader with an honest, humble and detailed account of what it was like to train and fly as a RIO. We get to experience what it was like to turn and burn in a Tomcat during a dogfight and being able to enjoy the feeling of going vertical in full afterburner. We get to read about an incredible near death scenario through Dave's training, experience and raw instinct. His amazing ability as a storyteller as well as his ability to recount this event from many years ago in such amazing detail makes Chapter 5 my personal favourite in his book. In addition to all of this, his experience as a Top Gun student in the F-14 and instructor on the F-5F outline the hard work and stress associated with this role, such as preparing for the well described murder boards that every instructor experienced. The pursuit of perfection was evident at Top Gun from both students and instructors in order to ensure that the graduates who went through the Top Gun program were among the best naval aviators in the world.

And then there was the movie..... the one that made the F-14 Tomcat a star as well as many of Hollywood's brightest young and upcoming actors....... Dave was there and he had the pleasure to take part in the movie..... Chapter 13 is also a favourite of mine in the book and you will see why.
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