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Real-life 'Top Gun' heroes take flight in simulators at San Diego Air & Space Museum

Posted at 5:38 PM, Jun 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-17 20:45:39-04

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (KGTV) — A group of veteran aviators, the real-life "Top Gun" heroes, spent their Friday morning in flight simulators at the San Diego Air and Space Museum inside Balboa Park.

The veterans needed no instruction – some were flying simulators of the vessels they flew decades ago.

Commander Glenn Tierney remembers how to fly and recounts his experience in World War II like it was yesterday.

“I said dad I’m gonna become a navy pilot. And that’s what I did,” said Tierney.

He spent 30 years in the navy, joining when he was just a teenager.

“I had the opportunity to shoot up a German submarine when I was 19,” he said.

These aviators are considered precursors to the heroes seen in the movie 'Top Gun' on the big screen today. Although, Tierney was quick to point out the differences between reality and fiction.

“They show these airplanes in TopGun way too close to each other. They never get that close,” he said.

The veterans' firsthand account of history – far more remarkable.

“To hear their stories is such a gift…we’re so blessed to still have them with us,” said CJ Machado, CEO & Founder, Force-Con.

Machado works closely with local veterans. She says there’s always something to be learned from listening to the heroes of our past.

“They are the real deal and yet…such humility. I think as a human being we can learn so much from that.”

Machado added that Commander Tierney and other veterans will be celebrated at Force-Con 2022: a three-day event that will be held at the San Diego Air and Space Museum in September.

Opening night is Friday, September 23, 2022 and will feature a film screening of "Into Flight Once More".

A portion of the proceeds from the event will help to help get senior and terminally ill veterans on their Honor Flight – an all-expenses paid trip to Washington D.C. to see memorials from the wars they fought in.