Books by Dave "Bio" Baranek:

TOPGUN DAYS: Dogfighting, Cheating Death, and Hollywood Glory as One of America's Best Fighter Jocks

And the prequel ... BEFORE TOPGUN DAYS: The Making of a Jet Fighter Instructor 

Available in multiple formats, please check out Amazon, B&N, and other retailers.

Book signings: 

  • Saturday, July 13, 8:00-10:00 am, Valiant Air Command museum, Titusville, FL: at the fly-in breakfast. 
  • If you would like to schedule a speaking engagement, contact me at

Visit Topgun Days on Facebook to see new photos and links. It's a good community where you can ask questions and leave comments.

For some thoughts on the evolution of the F-14 Tomcat, tactics, and weapons -- along with flying stories and photos -- check out my article on foxtrotalpha. 

Prints of many aircraft photos from TOPGUN DAYS are now available from Stocktrek Images. New photos have recently been added.

Contact the author:

TOPGUN DAYS is international! Available in a Japanese translation and a Chinese translation.


In May I attended a reunion of Topgun instructors in San Diego to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the school. It was both enjoyable and rewarding to re-connect with this incredible organization. The reunion enjoyed excellent planning and communications, thanks to the efforts of several former instructors and meeting planner Mary Buonaguidi. The multi-day program included: time for socializing; a look back at the past 50 years and TOPGUN today; formal dinners; and other events. In the photo below, I’m in the orange shirt, next to the Navy fighter pilot who started it all, CAPT Dan “Yank” Pedersen (white shirt), and we’re flanked by several current instructors. Most of the current instructors attended – at their own expense and using leave time – and demonstrated that they are keeping the flame burning bright. Here’s to the next 50 years.

Navy Topgun Instructors, among the best trained and most respected of all aviators, are not born; they are made through their own determined efforts and the coordinated work of their predecessors. TOPGUN DAYS reveals in exuberant prose how a young man goes from aspirations to realizing his dreams.

Former F-14 radar intercept officer and Topgun instructor Dave Baranek (callsign: Bio) describes the commitment required to first master the mighty F-14 Tomcat fighter, and then the extreme demands placed on instructors once they report to the Topgun school. He goes from being waterboarded in survival training to performing at the highest levels while subjected to six-and-half times the force of gravity during gut-wrenching dogfights. He speaks of the long hours instructors put in to prepare their lectures, and reflects candidly on the untimely deaths of two of his associates in aircraft accidents. He describes his own struggle for his very life after ejecting from a crashing F-14.

TOPGUN DAYS is about trial, adventure, and triumph. Dave takes readers among the clouds with his vivid accounts of the incredible power and maneuverability these young men harness. The rewards include unforgettable action and the camaraderie of others who he respects. In Dave’s case, the rewards also include a bit of Hollywood fame as he helps to create that well known blockbuster, “Top Gun.”



  • The Digital Combat Simulator (DCS) "F-14 Tomcat" by Heatblur has been released. Whether you are into sims or just an aviation enthusiast, you may be interested in these two videos I made to share insights from my aviation experience: Tomcats and Topgun #1 and Tomcats and Topgun #2.
  • Aviation enthusiasts, especially F-14 Tomcat fans, have another new book to get excited about: author and photographer David F. Brown's F-14 Tomcat: Grumman's “Top Gun” from Vietnam to the Persian Gulf. In 128 well-planned pages it presents outstanding photography and excellent text that provide a great overview of the Tomcat.
  • Many people are fascinated by the F-14's variable geometry wings. Click the hyperlink for two short stories related to the Tomcat's swing-wings. 
  • If you're a fan of the Tomcat, visit the F-14 Tomcat Association, which helps maintain and support the F-14 community. 
  • Sport pilots: there is a military-style stick grip available for a wide variety of sport aircraft. Visit Infinity Aerospace, owned by friend and VF-24 squadron-mate "JD" Newman. His website is loaded with other interesting information and goodies.

What others are saying about TOPGUN DAYS:

  • ...A near perfect mix of culture and technical detail for the reader to digest. - Tyler Rogoway at Foxtrot Alpha
  • From catapult shot to the red carpet, this book delivers. - Kai Ryssdal, host of public radio's "Marketplace" and former Naval Flight Officer
  • The movie was cool, but the real thing is cooler, isn’t it? ... What I particularly appreciated is how good he is at explaining. ... So I loved how accessible Dave made his world. - Sarah Morgan
  • Dave "Bio" Baranek brings "real world" experience and an edgy writing talent to the high-speed, high-G world of air warfare in the carrier-based F-14 Tomcat. - Robert F. Dorr, author of Mission to Tokyo and dozens of other aviation books
  • Written in a style that can only be rendered by a dangerous pilot and a top expert in the field, "TopGun Days" is not just a fast, fun read, but an experience. - Eileen Casey, [Complete review]

Available from:

Representation: Contact the author.