ST. LOUIS — In its first four days of release, “Top Gun: Maverick” grossed $160.5 million at the box office.

The new film, a sequel to the 1986 blockbuster, showcases the St. Louis-made FA-18 Super Hornet and the Navy men and women who fly the jet planes.

U.S. Navy Command Master Chief Deen Lady, who lives in the area, said the original “Top Gun” film is one of the many inspirations behind his 22-year military career.

“I think of the inspiration of the ‘Top Gun’ film, and that was one of the inspirations for me to join the military,” he said.

The original filmmakers gained access to the Navy’s elite air fleet and aircraft carriers. Paramount and Skydance producers of “Top Gun: Maverick” worked with Boeing and the Navy to get access to the cockpits for never-before-seen footage.

“Having an aircraft land 5 feet from you is exhilarating,” said Lady. “The endurance that our men and women do on a day-to-day basis to make our country safe is inspirational.”

Whether the new movie results in several recruits for the Navy, one sailor can attest to the first film’s influence and his career choice.

“I’ve been in the Navy for 18 years and started my naval career on the USS Roosevelt CVN-71, which is the aircraft carrier they filmed the movie on,” said Navy Lt. Commander Cory Flament. “As I’m talking about it, I’m getting chills.”

“I remember what it felt like to be an 18-year-old kid and understanding I’m part of something bigger than myself, and you can’t describe that to anyone,” Flament continued. “But when you watch the opening sequence to that movie, it makes me want to do it all over again. I’m not even joking. Can you zoom in on my goosebumps?”