FALLON, Nev. (CBS13) — The highly anticipated sequel to the 1986 blockbuster film “Top Gun” is finally here. “Top Gun: Maverick,” made by Paramount Global, the parent company of Paramount Pictures and CBS, flew full throttle into theaters Friday.

But before the stars of the sequel flew onto the big screen, they spent a month and a half flying and training at the elite TOPGUN naval facility in Fallon, Nevada. The training area is in the high desert about 70 miles outside of Reno. It’s where the best of the best train and teach — and it, in a phrase, is otherworldly.

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It’s an aerial display of military might you not only see but feel beneath your feet. The power pulsates from the incredible flying machines with every takeoff and taxi. Simply stepping onto the tarmac at U.S. Naval Air Station Fallon makes it easy to embellish the experience knowing it’s a place unlike any other.

Pilots spend 13 grueling weeks in Nevada’s high desert with 15 to 20 per class three times a year. Just one percent of all Navy pilots ascend to this level. Lieutenant John Taylor Greg, who goes by “JT,” is one of them.

“It’s the hardest and biggest challenge I’ve had to go through,” he said. “It is a continuous challenge.”

That challenge for JT has evolved into his new role as a TOPGUN flight instructor. The same goes for Lieutenant Briana Plohocky.

“I would say it’s very exciting, exhilarating and humbling,” Taylor said of her experience as a pilot and now teacher.

That last word is one we heard a lot during our visit: “it is awesome and humbling.” And that’s coming from the big guy, Commander Michael Patterson, who runs the show at Fallon. He’s the top gun at TOPGUN.

“Every day until the sun comes up, they’re launching until the sun goes down and beyond,” Patterson said of the daily training.

Out on the flight field, we looked out at an endless slab of concrete. The 14,000-foot runway is the longest in the Navy and the aircraft that dance on its stage are maintained with the same precision the pilots use to guide them.

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It is the endless pursuit of perfection.

“So a lot of dedication and continuing to get better every day, that’s the hardest part,” JT said.

The easiest part: remembering why they do this training.

As catchy as the phrase “need for speed” is, the TOPGUN program was born out of a greater necessity: the need to save lives.

Too many planes and men were lost during the Vietnam War. The kill-to-loss ratio wasn’t good. U.S. military tactics had to get better, and the TOPGUN program was born.

We asked Plohocky how deep that pride goes.

“I think it’s pretty deep. It’s a different type of war these days,” she said.

And these days, that pride includes embracing the hype surrounding the “Top Gun” movie. It’s part of the drill with added benefits.

“I mean, the first movie was a big recruiting event so I think the second one will be even more,” Plohocky said.

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“Even more” is exactly what you get from these men and women — an already dedicated group prepping to protect with pride. The fierce flying fighters of Fallon are ready to shine far beyond the sequel.