Nat Geo’s “Top Gun: The Next Generation” will showcase pilots competing to join the elite and win a seat on the F-35C Strike Fighter

National Geographic, along with Rex, part of factual powerhouse Zinc Media Group, announced today the greenlight of Top Gun: The Next Generation (awaiting working title. With unprecedented access to one of the U.S. Navy’s most demanding training and selection programs, this adrenaline-fueled and emotionally searing documentary series follows the world-class U.S. Navy student pilots as they work to join the next generation of the Navy’s most elite strike fighter pilots.

The series follows a group of officers as they push their limits on the grueling Advanced Flight Training Program. For the first time ever, they will be embarking on some of the most challenging flight tests possible including landing on an aircraft carrier at sea. The elite nature of the course means that only a minority – the very best – will make it to the top to fly the world’s most advanced jet – the F-35C Lightning II.

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The emotional character-led stories will primarily be told through the perspective of a diverse range of Navy student pilots. This first-time access will allow the series to follow the prospective naval aviators every step of the way – in the air, in the classroom, off-base and at home – as we discover who’s got what it takes to make it to the F-35C.

This observational documentary will have epic aerial sequences while intimate moments reveal the emotions of the young candidates and the immense pressure they face.

“With so many millions of fans of the film around the world, I was immediately drawn to this series – these elite jet pilots are not only extremely accomplished and impressive, but all have very different stories to tell,” said Tom McDonald, EVP, Global Factual and Unscripted Content, National Geographic. “With Nat Geo’s exclusive unprecedented inside access, this series promises to be an exhilarating, visually jaw-dropping and fascinating journey into the intensely competitive world of elite flying.”

Tanya Shaw, managing director, Zinc Television, says: “The intimate access we have gained to the characters and the emotional character-led story arcs that run through the series will paint a vivid, compelling narrative around the young men and women embarking on this highly stressful process. That narrative will elevate the series beyond the noise and spectacle of fighter jets to tell the tense, nuanced and poignant human stories behind the public-facing bravado. This is a unique project and we are thrilled to be bringing it to viewers.”

The docuseries will be produced for National Geographic by Rex, a Zinc Media label. For Zinc, the series was created by Karen Edwards, who is also showrunner, and it will be executive produced by Tanya Shaw. For Rex, the series director is Lana Salah. For National Geographic, commissioning editor is Simon Raikes; Charlie Parsons is senior vice president, Development; and Tom McDonald is executive vice president, Global Factual and Unscripted Content.

IMAGE CREDIT: Lt. Darin Russell.

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