Top Gun

Reporter: David Richardson

He's Australia's Top Gun....

One of the country's most highly trained aerial killers...

a $50 million dollar investment in our defence...flying one of the most deadly and sophisticated fighting machines ever built...the FA-18 Hornet...

But now the Top Gun is lifting the lid on our elite fighter force...

on the boozing...

The pranks that went wrong...

"The book is dedicated to a good friend of mine, JP who died hang gliding." Said Serge

The near misses...and deaths...

"When we first got the F-18 we went through a bad patch, we lost quite a few guys early on." Said Serge

"How many times do you think you went gee that was close?" Asked Reporter

"There's alot I wish didn't happen but the ones you feel nauseous about and go home and really think about I probably had half a dozen of those." Said Serge

His call sign is "Serge...and he's one a select band of warriors to have lived a dream...

to fly the F/A-18 Hornet...a war machine with a deadly sting...missiles...bombs...and the lethal vulcan gatling gun...

So the men behind the controls must be equally deadly...

"It's very difficult to take little Johnny out of kindergarten who been taught not to hurt Billy and not to climb trees and break him down and rebuild him into a guy whose willing to jump on a hand grenade of take human life." Said Serge

Serge was one of those boys.. broken down and rebuilt....into a fighter pilot... and in a rare insight....he's lifted the lid on the world of our elite fighter squadrons... for this interview he's demanded anonymity.

"I'm still doing work overseas that's very sensitive so I don't want my identity divulged or it would compromise things I am doing overseas." Said Serge

"What would happen if they found out who you were?" Asked Reporter

"I'd lost the ability to do that work overseas and possibly endanger my family." Said Serge

He's also released a warts and all book called fighter pilot... detailing the crazy lifestyle of our elite pilots....and the problems inside the air force...as it faces budget cuts....and the invasion of political correctness.

"You lifted the lid on the other side of our elite warriors?" Asked Reporter

"Yes but in doing so I wanted the book to be an honest appraisal and its a by-product of having tightly wound individuals." Said Serge

"Are there parts of this book the government isnt going to like?" Asked Reporter

"I think that would be a fair statement.." Said Serge

In this high altitude world...where everything happens at such speed...its fractions of seconds between life and death... It takes an unique person to live and survive in this world... an adrenalin addict...with a need for speed.

"You guys are adrenalin junkies! is that how you see yourself? yeh. you're an adrenalin nutcase! yeh. I think thats part of the territory." Said Serge

This is serge flying his 50-million dollar plane... and in 20 years of mastering the Hornet...he's had some close calls...and lost good mates.

"Were you scared?" Asked Reporter

"Look whether its in combat or in peace there's things that go wrong. I don't know if you describe it as scared but certainly the heart gets elevated, the adrenalin gland gets another good shot." Said Serge

While not a combat pilot for Australia anymore....Serge still trains fighter pilots...a top gun instructor...

to show us what he teaches...he's agreed to take me in a 2-SEAT trainer...to experience what a fighter pilot feels...

We'll be flying a Provost Mark 5A...used by the royal air force in Britain... with a top speed of almost 800 kilometres an hour... Its not a Hornet...and it looks more like the inside of a formula one car... very small.

Top Gun will put this plane through 4 fighter attack moves...used in dogfights...

Its stomach turning stuff...

His idea of a little bit of G is about 4...4 times your normal weight pushing down on you...

it seems like hours...but its over in 20 minutes.

Serge now works in other hot spots around the world...as a private contractor...

But he worries about the future of his beloved air force...and the next generation of warriors asked to defend this country...

Mac "serge" Tucker's book is called "FIGHTER PILOT- Misadventures beyond the Sound Barrier with an Australian Top Gun"

Available online and in bookstores

Check out a sample of Mac 'Serge' Tucker's book.

Contact details

Allen & Unwin - www.allenandunwin.com