Top Gun was released in 1986, and cemented Tom Cruise’s status as a movie star, while wowing audiences with its thrilling jet fighter real-life action scenes.

The movie spotlighted military aerial combat in a way that no movie ever had before. It’s no wonder that even over three decades later people were still hoping for a sequel, that eventually happened: Top Gun – Maverick.

The U.S. Navy is thanking Tom Cruise, as well as franchise producer Jerry Bruckheimer, for their contributions to Naval Aviation, as the two are now Honorary Naval Aviators.

In 1949 the U.S. Navy instituted the Honorary Naval Aviator Program as a way to recognize the contributions of those outside of Naval Aviation to the cause. The award had only been given out 34 times since then prior to the end of last week when Tom Cruise became recipient 35 and Jerry Bruckheimer became number 36. Among other things, the Honorary Naval Aviator citation awards both Cruise and Bruckheimer with the same Wings of Gold that are given to actual Naval Aviators, and they’re even allowed to wear the wings publicly.

The majority of the list of other recipients of the Honorary Naval Aviator award include other members of the U.S. Navy or those who have been directly involved in the aerospace industry. However, the award has been given to another actor at least once before. Bob Hope was made an Honorary Naval Aviator for his contributions to keeping up the morale of those in Naval Aviation.

According to a statement by the Navy, Top Gun as a film made a “profound positive impact” on recruitment within Naval Aviation.

Top Gun: Maverick was supposed to be released this year, But it was originally delayed to December, and now the movie has been pushed back to the July 2nd, 2021.

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