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International Council of Air Shows

Convention Opening General Session To Explore "Building Top Gun"

August 16th, 2023

Two naval aviators responsible for the creation of the Navy Fighter Weapons School will be the keynote presenters for the 2023 ICAS Convention on Tuesday, December 5. Dan Pedersen and Darrell Gary will provide a behind-the-scenes look at why and how the Navy Fighter Weapons School was created, the concepts and goals on which the program was conceived and built, the commitment to the highest levels of professionalism that were the foundation for the Navy’s graduate school in fighter combat, the successes and the challenges of the school’s first several months, and the legacy of the work that they did at NAS Miramar more than half a century ago.


Moderated by longtime ICAS member, San Diego Air & Space Museum CEO and Top Gun graduate Jim Kidrick, this insightful and candid panel discussion will go beyond the movie cliches and simplifications to discuss the urgent need that compelled the creation of Top Gun, the challenges and opportunities that the young naval aviators encountered as they developed the program, and the impact Top Gun has had on combat aviation during the 50+ years that have passed since the program was created.


The opening keynote presentation will be followed by the announcement of the 2024 military performance schedules for the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, the U.S. Air Force tac demos, the U.S. Army Golden Knights, the U.S. Marine Corps tac demos, and the CF-18 Hornet demo, as well as the 2025 performance schedules for the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.