Below are published reviews. Please check out the customer reviews on Amazon.com [LINK].
The inside look that Bio gives on just how Topgun operates from an instructor's point of view is outstanding, presenting a near perfect mix of culture and technical detail for the reader to digest.
The aerial vignettes are fascinating, but so are the stories of how Topgun instructors bring their professionalism to the classroom (really, trust me).
The book is not only a detailed source of F-14 technical information...Topgun Days also covers some never revealed before features about the most famous aviation movie, Top Gun.
What also drew me in to Mr. Baranek's story is that he shows the learning process involved so the story is not all about what went right, but what could (and did) go wrong, and how he learned and improved from both.
...An outstanding read – I couldn’t put it down! If you love books that are written by the person who was there and did the real stuff, you’ll love this book.
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 [Complete review]
This book was a joy to read! From heart stopping ejections into the ocean, to the day-to-day thrill of flying ..., Dave Baranek’s book recounts it all in great detail.
- YouLikeAirplanesToo.com [Complete review]
This is a fun and engaging book to read. It’s easier to watch something like aerial maneuvering or dogfighting than to try and explain it, but Bio does a good job of making you feel what he felt as he was in the cockpit of an F-14....
- Just a Mom's Take on Things [Complete review]
I literally couldn’t put the book down. Dave is a master story teller who has the ability to capture his audiences attention and hold it throughout the entire book.
Un sacré parcours, donc, et un sacré témoignage. A lire.
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, Hamptons.com [Complete review]
The writing style is easy to read and I love that it’s a book you can pick up, enjoy a few pages, and then walk away from but when you return you’re right back into the action and story.
- Connie, MiscFinds4U.com [Complete review]
This is a really fascinating book for those who love military genre books and/or for those who are fans of the famous Top Gun movie. I am about 3/4 of the way through the book and it’s a fantastic read!
- Shelly Hill, TwoClassyChics.com [Complete review]
I thoroughly enjoyed Baranek’s honest and genuine approach to the world of TopGun, and I recommend to anyone with even the slightest interest in naval aviation.
- Rachel Conroy, FilmMonthly.com [Complete review]
We, as a nation—as a generation—will brake for Top Gun, and it's a boon to our culture that a real Top Gun pilot, Dave "Bio" Baranek, has written a textbook for us.
- Staff review, movie*pie.com [Complete review]
He writes not only about his experiences as a fighter pilot, taking readers through a first hand look from the cockpit, but gives a behind the scenes look at how the scenes in the movie were shot.
- Ryan, PorschePerfect.com [Complete review]
Between the thrilling stories, talented writing, and over fifty stunning pictures, this is a book you will not want to put down.
- Editor, Adventure World magazine [Complete review]
Baranek tells ALL in his memoir “TOPGUN DAYS” and I can tell you it reads like a fast-paced movie. It is a real-life adventure story, complete with an ejection seat moment and first person faceoffs in the air at 700 MPH that keeps the reader on edge.
- Michael Schindler, Seattle Post Intelligencer [Complete review]
Bio (Baranek's callsign) puts the reader in the cockpit with him and his pilots and describes routine and not-so-routine flights, practice dogfights, and takes us inside the elite TOPGUN training facility both as a student and as an instructor.
- Heather, Culture Brats [Complete review]
Topgun Days book is a good read for military aviation enthusiasts as well as teens thinking if flying in the military as Baranek illustrates the dedication and professionalism of naval aviation.
- Joseph May, Seattle PI [Complete review]
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.
- Mel Fabrikant, Paramus Post [Complete review]
The adventures in the sky jump off the pages.
- Jason Austell, KNSD-TV San Diego [Complete review]
If you’re into military aircraft or a fan of “Top Gun,” strap in for a ride.
- Michael Esposito, Chicago Tribune [Complete review]
Anyone wanting a genuine and honest peek at Naval Aviation and the effort required to get there and excel will find “Bio’s” book a great read for the 2010 summer reading list.
- CAPT T.E. “Spike” Prendergast, USN(Ret), The Hook magazine -- complete review below
Dave “Bio” Baranek does an excellent job providing a behind the scenes peek into the real Topgun experience. This book was written for a wide-ranging audience, military aviation history buffs will get something out of it, as will those who don’t know a F-14 from a F-15. Dave Baranek’s writing is straight-forward, told from the perspective of one who actually lived the experience, and entertaining enough to force you to keep turning the pages to see what happens next.
- "Warbird" at Classic Machines website [complete review]
Вышел на меня лётчик F-14 (оператор оружия, RIO), снимавшийся в Топ Гане. Дэйв "Байо" Баронэк. Наткнулся на сюжет о съёмках фильма на моём канале и отписался в личку. Дэйв в этом году выпустил в свет книгу о своем участии в съемках под названием TOPGUN DAYS,
- "Theatsa" on livejournal.com [complete review]
Written with an almost youthful appreciation of the chance to experience a specialized area of U.S. Naval Aviation, the Fighter Weapons School, better known as "Topgun," this book is a refreshing memoir.
All in all, an enjoyable read that veteran F-14 pilots and RIOs, will appreciate reliving, as well as presenting a rare, behind-the-scenes look at how Hollywood makes its big aviation pictures.
- Peter Mersky, Military.com [Complete review]
Fast-paced...Baranek excels at packing the nitty-gritty of operations into his writing. For example, he describes in nail-biting detail his ejection from a Tomcat after a carrier landing went bad. His account of his actions and mental processes during that episode are worth reading twice over. His description of the "time dilation" effect is superb. ... This is an enjoyable read.... Baranek's enthusiasm for flying is contagious, and I believe that makes his book much more likely than most to gain readers outside the world of aviation.
- Walter J. Boyne, Aviation History magazine -- complete review below
The author is a retired Naval flight officer, who made several cruises aboard various carriers as the radar operator in the back seat of an F-14. One of those cruises included an ejection when the ship’s arresting gear failed to arrest the F-14 before it went overboard. Even more challenging were his two assignments to the Topgun program, the Navy’s elite fighter-training school, first as a student, then in the coveted position of an instructor. During that second assignment, he also helped with the Navy’s support and the flying sequences of the classic movie Top Gun. (See above for the correct spelling.) The author is a straightforward, even plain writer, but he also has an eye for detail, and gives those details in full measure about experiences for which there is an abiding, even devouring, curiosity among aviation buffs. They will enjoy.
- Roland Green, Booklist
"Topgun Days” is the most enjoyable book I had read in a long time.
- Wilfried F. Voss, FrogenYozurtDotCom
Dave Baranek has lived in and written about two worlds most of us can only daydream of; life and death decision-making in the cockpit of a front-line fighter jet, and the behind the scenes making of a major Hollywood blockbuster. Sometimes frightening, sometimes funny, Dave's experiences come together in a compelling story of personal growth and professional reward. From catapult shot to the red carpet, this book delivers.
- Kai Ryssdal, host of public radio's "Marketplace" and former Naval Flight Officer
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. All of us thrilled to the fast-jet action in the blockbuster film "Top Gun" but few of us have ever been catapulted off a deck or thrown into gut-wrenching high-speed maneuvers. "Bio" has been there. When this author writes about dogfighting in the F-14, or about the surprises behind the scenes in the making of "Top Gun," you're getting it straight from the cockpit. Factual, realistic, compelling, Topgun Days is a tale of those who fly and fight that will grab you and hold you.
- Robert F. Dorr, author of Mission to Berlin
When I was managing editor of the Tailhook Association's magazine, Dave Baranek was one of the leading lights of NAS Miramar--Fightertown USA. We could always count on 'Bio' for an informative, enjoyable contribution to The Hook, and if anything his narrative skills have only improved. This book is an engagingly written retrospective, providing a cockpit view of Navy fighter aviation that can only come from someone who's strapped in, launched off the pointy end of 'the boat', and mastered the complex, challenging, and exciting world of the naval flight officer.
- Barrett Tillman, author of Victory and Clash of the Carriers
Dave Baranek takes readers on an inside, guided tour of one of the truly elite teams of the world’s best military, where men and women push themselves and their machines to the limit in their high stakes efforts to be the best. Baranek isn’t just an observer in this world; he has flown with and taught the best. When he writes about the view from the cockpit and the pressures on a flight leader, it’s with the absolute authority of an expert and a master story-teller.
- Ed Ruggero, keynote speaker and author of The First Men In: US Paratroopers and the Fight to Save D-Day
Complete review from The Hook, the Tailhook Association magazine:
I enjoyed this book and thought it was exceptional. The cover subtitle may be deceptive since the book is really an excellent six to seven year mini-biography of the author's long journey from being a brand new Naval Flight Officer ensign out of flight training, through transition training to become a Grumman F-14 Tomcat Radar Intercept Officer (RIO), through his first squadron tour and two deployments, to his time as a Topgun instructor.
During his two years in Topgun, "Bio" worked hard to become a polished and highly respected instructor giving threat and tactics lectures, flight briefs and, of course, flying on regular training exercises. During the latter part of his tour he became involved, as many others at NAS Miramar did, in the filming of the major motion picture "Top Gun" and in making it the success it was. His behind the scenes descriptions about the filming of the movie and his helping make the actors dialogue more creditable is fascinating and informative. Additionally, his insider perspectives on the natural tension between "absolute reality and authenticity" and the often competing requirements of creating a compelling and commercially successful cinematic experience, and how the major active duty Navy pilots and RIOs assigned to the project were able to strike a balance and make credible compromises between fact and fiction are compelling and make for a greater understanding of the movie version.
First and foremost, however, Bio's narrative is an exceptionally un-affected and honest telling of the trials and tribulations of a "new guy" trying to learn all there is to know about flying the F-14, adapting and finding his place in squadron life, and the growing pains along the way. His narration of his time in Topgun describes the high professionalism and dedication of the instructors and yields a very humble description of his first "murder boards" and the work and long hours that went into the preparation for every lecture he gave and every flight on which he flew. In addition to his personal story, Bio includes numerous sidebars or "intel briefs" that explain in greater detail aspects of Naval aviation like aviator call signs, why there is a RIO in the F-14, Topgun's origin and mission, and simulating enemy aircraft and tactics in the air. These intel briefs help the reader understand the story and the environment the author populated.
Anyone wanting a genuine and honest peek at Naval aviation and the effort required to get there and excel will find Bio's book a must read pick for the 2010 summer reading list.
- CAPT Spike Prendergast, USN (Ret)
Complete review from Aviation History magazine:
In my youth, it was routine to jokingly harass and insult navigator, radar operators and bombardiers, who at the time were not allowed to command a flying unit. This has long since changed, but this excellent book by Dave Baranek (author of "F-14 Tomcat Sharpens Its Claws in Topgun," in the November 2010 Aviation History) is the second to come out in about a year in which a nonpilot shares his experiences. (the first, to my knowledge, was Robert Harder's Flying From the Black Hole: The Navigator Bombardiers of Vietnam.) Both books are long overdue.
In his fast-paced narrative, Baranek shares the story of "an ordinary guy in extraordinary circumstances." Newly minted as a naval flight officer in 1980, he trained to be the back-seater in a Grumman F-14 Tomcat, then went on to attend the famed Navy Topgun school as a student. He would later return to Topgun as an instructor.
Along the way, Baranek excels at packing the nitty-gritty of operations into his writing. For example, he describes in nail-biting detail his ejection from a Tomcat after a carrier landing went bad. His account of his actions and mental processes during that episode are worth reading twice over. His description of the "time dilation" effect is superb. Another highlight is his account of piloting a Northrop F-5F during the filming of the movie Top Gun.
This is an enjoyable read from a totally different perspective. Baranek's enthusiasm for flying is contagious, and I believe that makes his book much more likely than most to gain readers outside the world of aviation.
- Walter J. Boyne