Top-Gun-Goose The U.S. used to be cool. We all wore sweet leather jackets, greased our hair into giant pompadours and if Johnny Law wanted to read out of his little rule book, we just revved our motorcycles and left him in a cloud of dust.

We were a country founded on rebellion, and great inventions like rock and roll and hot-rods showed that we understood what it took to be bad assed, and if you didn’t like it you could move to France.

But things have changed. Now everything is regulated, and if people do anything that’s out of the ordinary, we automatically assume it’s illegal.

When Goose and Maverick were confronted by a Russian Mig-28 and ordered not to fire until fired upon, did they slink away? Hell no. They placed their F-14 upside down over the other plane’s canopy and gave the pilot the bird.

If they tried that now they’d be court-martialed and drummed out of the service.

Earlier in the week a Navy P-8 Poseidon was doing close-in surveillance near China’s Hainan island when a Chinese J-11 buzzed it a few times, flew upside down to show it was armed and then did a barrel roll over the Poseidon’s nose just for good measure.

They didn’t release the name of the pilot who put on that acrobatic display, but if his call sign isn’t “Hung-Lo” or “Big Wang” I’d be amazed.

Instead of getting in there and showing we were just as cool, our plane flew home and Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby did the equivalent of tattling to a teacher by going on television to whine that this bit of awesomeness was “inconsistent with customary international law.”

What the hell happened to this country?

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