Was this Kalamazoo man the first civilian to fly a U.S. Navy F-14 fighter jet?

In 1986 the F-14 Tomcat gained popularity because Tom Cruise's character Maverick flew that fighter jet in the first Top Gun movie.  The sequel hit theaters nearly 40 years later, "Top Gun: Maverick."  As everyone is all a buzz about this movie, they're also talking about the fighter jets used in the new Top Gun movie, which led to a local discovery.

F-14 Tomcat Fighter Aircraft Launch
Getty Images - F-14
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We recently asked Facebook this question, "What would your call sign be if you were in Top Gun?"  One person by the name of Ivan Gomes responded that his call sign was 'Academy,'

When I was flying the F14 Tomcat as the only civilian in the world who did it, mine was "Academy". They gave me that probably because I was fresh out of a flying academy and wasn't military. Yes the only living civilian in the world who did real top gun lives in Kalamazoo.

The way Gomes describes it, it was like a joyride with a qualified F-14 Tomcat instructor.  He was a 20-year-old in a flying academy doing commercial flying training at the time.

The F-14 Tomcat is a United States Navy fighter jet that can reach speeds up to 1,544 MPH and can land and take off from aircraft carriers according to Wikipedia.  In other words, when this Kalamazoo native Ivan Gomes "had a need...a need for speed."

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