In this edition of “True North,” Marc LiVecche, the McDonald Distinguished Scholar of Ethics, War, and Public Life at Providence speaks with Captain Ryan Bernacchi, USN (Ret.) about Top Gun: Maverick. Ryan Bernacchi is a former TOPGUN instructor who served as a naval aviator and leader for 25 years. He has flown more than 4,000 hours in FA-18 Hornets and Super Hornets, as well as the F-16 Viper. He had made multiple deployments flying real world missions from the decks of our Navy’s aircraft carriers. Notably, CAPT Bernacchi served as the commanding officer for a Super Hornet Squadron, and was the Commanding Officer and Flight Leader (#1) of the Blue Angels. Marc and Ryan first met and worked together during Ryan’s final active duty assignment as Deputy Commandant for Leadership and Character Development at the United States Naval Academy, where Marc served as a Stockdale research fellow and instructor in the ethics program.

This wide-ranging conversation celebrates the magnificent sequel (both discussants are old enough to have seen the OG in the movie theater in 1986), reminisces about CAPT Bernacchi’s own military career, connects the film with ethics instruction at the Naval Academy, examines character formation through the eyes of Maverick, and examines some of the film’s more complex handing of difficult ethical issues–including the tension military leaders face between successfully completing critical missions and keeping their personnel safe.

Deeper Dive:

Alan Dowd, “Maverick’s Message”

Mark Tooley, “Top Gun and American Audacity”

Marc LiVecche, “War As Human Experience”