Pinellas Park native helps train Navy's best pilots at TOPGUN

Last Updated: Thursday, February 22, 2018

A Pinellas Park native is helping train the Navy's best pilots at TOPGUN. 

  • Pinellas Park native helps train Navy's best pilots at TOPGUN
  • Petty Officer 2nd Class Derek Muzzey is an aviation electrician's mate
  • Muzzey graduated from Pinellas Park High in 2009

Petty Officer 2nd Class Derek Muzzey, a 2009 Pinellas Park High School graduate, is part of the Navy's finest aviation fighter training facility in the world. 

“I joined the military to follow in my father's footsteps," said Muzzey. "I knew I wanted to join the aviation community and it worked out well.”

Petty Officer Muzzey is an aviation electrician's mate working with the Strike Fighter Wing Pacific Detachment stationed aboard Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada. 

A Navy aviation electrician's mate is responsible for maintenance and repair of all of the electrical and instrument systems on the aircrafts. 

The Navy's premiere tactical air warfare training center, known to the world as TOPGUN, is located in Nevada's high desert. 

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.

Muzzey 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.

“In addition to my father serving in the Air Force, my uncle served in the Army,” said Muzzey explaining that military service was a family tradition. “I'm proud of the work I do on a daily basis.”

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, according to Navy officials. 

"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.

Each pilot is hand-selected for air-to-air and air-to-ground training and subsequently, as a TOPGUN instructor.

Muzzey said he's proud to serve at the center of excellence for naval aviation, training and tactics development.

“Serving in the Navy makes me and my family proud,” Muzzey added.