Christine Fox, who was the inspiration for Kelly McGillis’ character in the 1986 Tom Cruise vehicle Top Gun, was recently appointed by President Barack Obama as acting deputy defense secretary Tuesday, making the civilian analyst the highest-ranking woman ever at the Pentagon.
In Top Gun, McGillis plays Charlotte “Charlie” Blackwood, a civilian contractor with a Ph.D. in astrophysics, serving as a Top Gun instructor. Fox, who had been director of cost controls at the Pentagon, before leaving for the academic world during the summer, had remained an unpaid consultant to Ashton Carter, who she will replace.
Fox, former president of the Center for Naval Analysis, helped McGillis prepare for her Top Gun role.
Below is a clip of Charlotte “Charlie” Blackwood, opposite United States Naval Aviator Lieutenant Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise).
Ashton Carter stepped down on Wednesday, and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel stated that Fox would serve as his top deputy, “pending the nomination and confirmation of a permanent successor.” In a statement, Hagel called Fox “a brilliant defense thinker and proven manager, who knows the intricacies of the Department’s budget, programs and global operations better than anyone.”
— U.S. Dept of Defense (@DeptofDefense) December 3, 2013
Speaking of Top Gun, Goose and Maverick lore has permeated the highest levels of American culture, as seen in HBO’s now-defunct series Eastbound and Down:
Regarding Top Gun style air combat, Fox told People Magazine in 1985, “I don’t know anything about flying airplanes, but I know a lot about the guy in the back seat – his mission, his radar and his missiles.”
Image via The U.S. Department of Defense.