Bill "Cougar" Cortell is a pilot that is shown in the opening scene of Top Gun. He is Maverick's wingman while in the air and during their last engagement together, a MiG aquires a missle lock on his aircraft. While the enemy plane did not fire, the encounter put Cougar into shock, causing him to have trouble focusing and flying. During this scene it is revealed that Cougar had a wife and child (later revealed he has multiple children) when he glanced at a small photograh he has tucked in his dashboard. Maverick flew along side Cougar on his way back to the air craft carrier they were stationed on, coaching him gently along the way to try and insure a safe landing. Cougar managed to bring his plane onto the deck of the aircraft carrier but crashed it (No injuries occured).
Cougar later entered his Comanding Officer (Stinger)'s office and resigns from his position as a pilot ("turns in his wings"), claiming he had "lost the edge", and "held on too tight". Cougar and his R.I.O. Merlin were the best pair in their squadron and were on course to be sent to TOPGUN before Cougar resigned.