Segments in this Video

Duke Cunningham: Introduction (01:26)


Cunningham was born in Los Angeles, California to patriotic parents who instilled in him courage and responsibility.

Cunningham's Early Years (02:33)

Cunningham was born in 1941; his father owned a filling station and his mother was a housewife. He spent his teenage years in a farming community, became a football and swimming coach, and began flying lessons.

Naval Fighter Pilot (02:25)

Cunningham graduated college in 1965 and joined the U.S. Navy. He attended Top Gun, earned the nickname Duke, and became a top pilot.

Vietnam War (02:48)

While on flying missions, Cunningham saw North Vietnam fortifying positions; American pilots followed rules of engagement set down by President Johnson. The war was unpopular in America; President Nixon reversed Johnson's war policies.

First MiG Kill (02:42)

Cunningham studied the rules of aerial combat; Willy Driscoll was his radar intercept officer. In January 1972, the men shot down a MiG-21.

Fighter Aces (05:27)

In May 1972, Cunningham and his wingman engaged a formation of MiG-17s and shot one down. Two days later, Cunningham and Driscoll shot down three more.

Downed Pilot (02:33)

A surface-to-air missile disabled Cunningham's F4, forcing him and Driscoll to eject; marines rescued the men. Cunningham recalls the emotions of the day. The Navy sent the men on PR tours in the U.S.

Naval Aviator and Legislator (02:35)

See a clip from a naval historical film. Cunningham became an instructor at the U.S. Navy Fighter Weapons School, coached Tom Cruise for his role in "Top Gun," retired in 1987, and became a U.S. representative.

Credits: Legends of Air Power: Duke Cunningham (00:32)

Credits: Legends of Air Power: Duke Cunningham

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Legends of Air Power: Duke Cunningham

Part of the Series : Legends of Air Power
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $69.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $104.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $69.95



Commander Randall Cunningham – Vietnam fighter ace and the pilot the movie Top Gun is based on. A Vietnam War volunteer, “Duke” Cunningham joined the Navy to do his part. He didn’t know that he would make his first air kill in January of 1972 and would become the first ace of the war by May of the same year. The commander of the Navy’s Top Gun School before he retired, “Duke” was then elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1990. Always an aviator, he flies each of the Navy’s aircraft before approving funding. “Duke” Cunningham is a true Legend of Airpower.

Length: 24 minutes

Item#: BVL129002

ISBN: 978-1-64023-369-0

Copyright date: ©1999

Closed Captioned

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Not available to Home Video customers.