FALLON, Nev. – In Nevada’s high desert is the Navy’s premiere tactical air warfare training center, home to the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center and it’s Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program, known to the world as TOPGUN.
A 2010 McCutcheon High School graduate and Lafayette, Indiana, native is part of the Navy’s finest aviation fighter training facility in the world.
Airman Paige Snyder is an aviation boatswain’s mate (handling) working with the Fleet Liaison stationed aboard Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada.
As a Navy aviation boatswain’s mate (handling) at NAS Fallon Snyder is responsible for fueling of aircrafts maintenance and upkeep of space.
Snyder said that the decision to join the Navy was influenced by family.
“My sister joined the Navy and it inspired me to follow in her footsteps,” said Snyder. “We are supporting each other in our careers.”
TOPGUN began 48 years ago with the determination of nine pilots, the skepticism of the government and almost no budget as history would recall. In the early years it turned the tide of a losing air war in Vietnam, revolutionized military doctrine, inspired a Hollywood blockbuster and attracted and trained the best allied pilots and air crew from all over the world.
Snyder plays a crucial role in the overall mission that flies over 5,000 adversary sorties per year in support of the Navy and Marine Corp Active and Reserve fleet and replacement squadrons, carrier air wings and marine aircraft groups including the United States Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National guard and Canadian Forces.
“Nowhere in the world does the Navy have the ability to train as we do in NAS Fallon,” said NAS Fallon Commanding Officer, Capt. David Halloran. “The Navy specifically chose NAS Fallon as the location for Top Gun and the Naval Special Warfare Tactical Ground Mobility Training Center because of the desert climate, mountainous terrain, and sophisticated ranges available in northern Nevada. Every Carrier Air Wing and Navy Seal Team is required to receive the essential training provided here prior to being deployed in theater.”
According to Navy officials, TOPGUN is highly competitive and exposes Navy and Marine Corp pilots to the most demanding training scenarios in fighter aviation lead by some of the most talented pilots in the world. Each pilot is hand-selected for air-to-air and air-to-ground training and subsequently, as a TOPGUN instructor.
“My grandfather, sister and extended family have served in the military,” said Snyder explaining that military service is a family tradition. “I’m proud of the personal growth I’ve experienced in the Navy while helping others realize their potential.”
Snyder also said they are proud to serve at the center of excellence for naval aviation, training and tactics development.
The future of U.S. aviation depends on the Navy’s ability to achieve their vision for defeating tomorrow’s air threats with the support of the ground crews and pilots.
“Serving in the Navy helps me provide stability and a solid foundation for my son,” added Snyder.