British fighter pilot will soon attend the famous Top Gun school for the first time ever

May 13 2013 - 1 Comment
By Jacek Siminski

British Royal Navy Lieutenant Stephen Collins will be the first ever British pilot to attend the famous Top Gun school.

Image Credit: Royal Navy

He was selected after an internship which included a tour on the USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) aircraft carrier.

His talent was spotted by the Americans while Collins was flying combat sorties, specifically ground attack missions in F-18 Super Hornet, over Afghanistan with VFA-14.

He must have proven his guts, because soon after the U.S. Navy offered him the opportunity to be involved in the Top Gun, which is officialy known as United States Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor Course.

It is even more astounding, taking into account Collins’ age: he’s only 26.

The Top Gun training programme is known all around the world mainly thanks to Tom Cruise acting as Maverick, an elite F-14 Tomcat pilot in the Top Gun movie.

Stephen Collins is by no means entering the Top Gun School by accident. His father was a pilot during the Falklands War, later on he moved to Red Arrows aerobatic team. We might suppose that Stephen has talent in his genes.

For the last five years he has flown in the US Navy, being a partaker of an exchange programme the purpose of which is to allow the British aviators get used to aircraft carriers operating conditions.

Even Collins himself emphasised that element:

The U.S. and the Royal Navy have worked together very closely on the Joint Strike Fighter program. The ultimate aim is for us to get some experience flying a jet with very similar capabilities to that one. It’s a good trade, the U.S. gets a pilot out of it and the Royal Navy gets the experience.

Here’s a BBC interview with mr. Collins, where he elaborates on how his training looked in practice and how he ended up in Top Gun Fighter School.

As he says, the California weather is definitely better than in the UK:

Jacek Siminski for The Aviationist

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  • Rice

    Did NSAWC somehow dodge the sequestration bullet?