The film begins at Flemner Air Base 20 years prior. A pilot named Leland “Buzz” Harley (Bill Irwin) loses control of his plane and ejects, leaving his co-pilot Dominic “Mailman” Farnum (Ryan Stiles) to crash alone; although Mailman survives, he’s mistaken for a deer owing to the branches stuck to his helmet and is shot by a hunter. Topper Harley (Charlie Sheen) wakes up from a nightmare he’s having about the event when Lt. Commander Block (Kevin Dunn) asks him to return to active duty as a pilot in the U.S. Navy, to help on a new top secret mission: Operation Sleepy Weasel. Harley starts to show some psychological problems, especially when his father is mentioned. His therapist, Ramada (Valeria Golino), tries to keep Topper from flying, but he relents, and also starts to build a budding romance with her. Meanwhile, Topper gets into a rivalry with another fighter pilot, Kent Gregory (Cary Elwes), who hates Topper because of the loss of his father “Mailman” to Buzz Harley, and believes Topper may do the same to him.