top gun flying scenes

How TOP GUN: Maverick Shot Those Thrilling Flying Scenes

Cooperation / Anzeige

The wait finally came to an end. After 36 years, the second part of Top Gun landed in theatres on May 26. I had already got to see it a week ago during the movie premiere in Berlin and Top Gun: Maverick is an absolute must-see for all Aviators. It was a thrill ride from the moment you are seated in the theatre, with popcorn in your hand. You did not need to be flying in one of those jets on the screen.

In this sequel, the flying ace, Maverick, has to prep a younger generation of pilots for a highly dangerous mission. During the movie, I was wondering: How in the world did they shoot the amazing flying scenes? The answer will surprise you as much as it did me. Spoiler alert: they did NOT use any green screen.

top gun flying scenes

Copyright: Paramount pictures

I Flew Aerobatics 🎢

I once had the chance to fly in an Extra 300 and Albatros L-39 fighter trainer. Personally, it cannot be thrilling enough when it comes to aerobatic flying. Loopings, barrel rolls, twists and tight turns are absolutely fun and easy to withstand for me. I neither had issues with my stomach. But I know that’s fairly unusual. High G-forces can have extreme side effects on your body and flying upside down just makes you throw up! So now I am thinking about the cast, who are not used to flying aerobatics. Plus they not only have to withstand the extreme forces and manoeuvres, they also have to act as if they are elite fighter pilots.

top gun flying scenes

My Connection To Top Gun ✈️

Tom Cruise, alias Maverick, instructs flight students in the new movie. So, like me, he has high responsibility for his cadets. I also have a personal story connected to the movie. Years ago, I had the actress Meg Ryan once on board as a passenger. I was very excited to meet her in person, since I had watched the first Top Gun movie so many times. After the flight, I checked in to the crew hotel, got to my room, turned on the TV and Top Gun was running with a scene starring Meg Ryan.

top gun flying scenes

How Fake Are The Flying Scenes? ❌

Now, you will probably be as surprised as I was when I found out! For the best movie experience, the mission was: How do you convincingly shoot scenes in which actors look like they are flying in jets with extreme G-forces contorting their facial features as the planes perform extreme aeronautical manoeuvres? You get the actors to do it for REAL. That, at least, was the conclusion of Tom Cruise when he began to think about how to shoot Top Gun: Maverick. That’s what they did in the end. All cast members are believably looking in the film like they are really in the skies because they really were in the skies.

The Big Issue of Throwing Up! 🤮

When filmmaker Tony Scott directed the original 1986 Top Gun, he too had hopes of shooting actors in the air but was thwarted when cast members began throwing up whenever they were taken for a ride. The new cast did throw up as well on board. Did Powell throw up over his plane? “Not on the plane,” says the actor. “You’ve got bags obviously. I never missed a shot in the bag.” How did they get this issue fixed: They thoroughly prepared the cast for the extreme flight manoeuvres so they were mentally and physically fit for it.

top gun flying scenes

How Did The Cast Prepare For The Flying? 👨🏼‍✈️

In the years after Top Gun made him a global star, Cruise became a pilot himself thanks to Sydney Pollack, who directed him in 1993’s The Firm and gave the actor flying lessons as a present. Cruise was determined to depict the aerial sequences in Top Gun: Maverick as realistically as possible, an ambition shared by Kosinski.

“That was Tom’s expertise,” says Kosinski about Cruise’s insistence that the actors be properly prepared for the shoot. “He’s a pilot, and he’s done aerobatics, and he was in the first Top Gun. He knew that they wouldn’t be able to get in the plane and hold their lunch down and be able to do these scenes, so he created a training program that they all went through.”

 

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Flight Lessons For The Cast 🎬

The actors began the schedule flying in single-engine Cessna 172 Skyhawks before moving on to the Extra 300, which is capable of more aerobatic manoeuvres, finally graduating to L-39 Albatros single-engine high performance jets, which prepared them for the F/A-18s in which they would be filmed during the shoot.

“You just feel the peril for everyone in the movie in a different way,” says Powell. “If you were using CGI, audiences are very smart, they can tell the difference. When you are whipping through canyons at 650 knots, you can’t fake that, and you can’t fake the Gs on actors’ faces.”

top gun flying scenes

The Great Difficulty Of On-Board Cameras 🎥

While the pilots were preparing to act like real pilots, Kosinski was figuring out how to shoot them doing so. “[That] took a lot of preparation,” says the director. “We had to work for about 15 months with the navy to figure out how to get cameras in the cockpit. We ended up getting IMAX-quality cameras into the cockpit with the pilots and the actor.”

During the shoot itself, Kosinski had the strange experience of “directing” actors who were many miles away during the actual filming.

“I’m there, with the actor, when they’re getting in the jet, I’m setting the cameras up, making sure all the angles are exactly what we need,” says the filmmaker. “But once that jet pulls out onto the runway, they’re gone for the next hour or two. As soon as they landed, we took the footage, we went into the debrief, we put it all in and watched it together. We give them notes on what didn’t work, and we’d cheer when something was great, and then we’d give them notes and send them up again in the afternoon. It was a very unique way to direct, because it was a lot of prep and a lot of rehearsal. And it was very tedious — you’re only getting a minute or two of good stuff every day. But it’s the only way to get footage that looks like this.”

 

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Will There Be Another Sequel? 🎞

So, if Top Gun: Maverick is a success, can Kosinski imagine overseeing more of such sequences in a sequel? “It’s all about the story for Tom,” says the filmmaker. “If we can figure out a way to tell what Maverick’s up to next, who knows?”

Top Gun: Maverick definitely exceeded my expectations and I seriously cannot wait to watch it again! To find out that all flying scenes are real, left me speechless because I know what a huge challenge it was for everyone involved.

Have your paper bags ready while watching it! Do not forget to like the post and leave me a comment with your feedback about the movie. 

Happy and thrilling landings

Your PilotPatrick

Source: here


favorite aviation movies

My Favorite Aviation Movies You Have To Watch

Anzeige / Cooperation

Dear Aviators, 

I have to admit that I have never watched so many movies and series before like in 2019. The pandemic with its lockdowns (now the 2nd one in Germany) made it possible. The free time you would normally spend with friends, going to a restaurant or working out in the gym you spend now at home. What to do in the evening when there is nothing else to do? Turn on the TV and watch my favorite aviation movies. 

favorite aviation movies

I present to you my favorite aviation movies you have to watch as well. Airplanes: They’re a useful mode of transportation, reliable subject matter for hacky stand-up comics, and a linchpin for some of the most memorable movies ever made.

Ironically, many of my choices would never play on an actual airplane: They would be too upsetting for most passengers on board. The thrill and terror of flying is the perfect dramatic device to create chills, scares, and big laughs.

Which streaming provider should you use?

The perfect streaming which provides all movies for a monthly flat rate does not exist yet. I use a combination of providers to have the best flexibility and the best selection. 

The streaming providers I am using:

NETFLIX
AMAZON PRIME
SKY CINEMA

favorite aviation movies

My Favorite Aviation Movies  

(sorted by year of publication)

TOP GUN

1986 ACTION / DRAMA IMDB 6,9

A legendary aviation movie. During my private jet I flew once Meg Ryan. After my duty I arrived at the hotel and turned on the TV. The channel which came up was broadcasting Top Gun. Such a funny coincidence. 

Plot: The Top Gun Naval Fighter Weapons School is where the best of the best train to refine their elite flying skills. When hotshot fighter pilot Maverick (Tom Cruise) is sent to the school, his reckless attitude and cocky demeanor put him at odds with the other pilots, especially the cool and collected Iceman (Val Kilmer). But Maverick isn’t only competing to be the top fighter pilot, he’s also fighting for the attention of his beautiful flight instructor, Charlotte Blackwood (Kelly McGillis).

EXECUTIVE DECISION

1996 ACTION / THRILLER IMDB 6,4

I do not know how often I have watched this movie as a teenager. I was fascinated how the stealth bomber docks underneath a Boeing B747 mid-flight.

Plot: When terrorists hijack a plane traveling from Greece to Washington, D.C., U.S. Army specialist David Grant (Kurt Russell) and Lt. Colonel Austin Travis (Steven Seagal) join forces to bring the plane to safety. While terrorists on board the plane claim they hijacked the plane to force the U.S. government to release their leader, who was captured by military forces, David and Austin discover that the plane is carrying a bomb full of nerve gas to be released on Washington, D.C.

AIR FORCE ONE

1997 ACTION / THRILLER IMDB 6,5

The movie is worth watching just because you can find out how the Air Force One looks inside!

Plot: After making a speech in Moscow vowing to never negotiate with terrorists, President James Marshall (Harrison Ford) boards Air Force One with his family (Wendy Crewson, Liesel Matthews) and advisers. When a group of terrorists led by Ivan Korshunov (Gary Oldman) hijacks the flight, the President’s principles are put to the test. Feigning escape, ex-soldier Marshall stows away in the aircraft and must race against time to rescue his family and everyone else on board.

CATCH ME IF YOU CAN 

 2002 Crime / Drama IMDB 8,5

One of my favorite movie scenes: Leonardo DiCaprio walks as pilot with his good looking crew through the airport terminal. 

Plot: Frank Abagnale, Jr. (Leonardo DiCaprio) worked as a doctor, a lawyer, and as a co-pilot for a major airline — all before his 18th birthday. A master of deception, he was also a brilliant forger, whose skill gave him his first real claim to fame: At the age of 17, Frank Abagnale, Jr. became the most successful bank robber in the history of the U.S. FBI Agent Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks) makes it his prime mission to capture Frank and bring him to justice, but Frank is always one step ahead of him.

THE AVIATOR

2004 Drama / Epic IMDB 7,5

You cannot get more aviation in a movie. This is why it is one of my favorite aviation movies. It shows that bravery and passion is needed to shape and develop aviation. 

Plot: Billionaire and aviation tycoon Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a successful public figure: a director of big-budget Hollywood films such as “Hell’s Angels,” a passionate lover of Hollywood leading ladies Katharine Hepburn (Cate Blanchett) and Ava Gardner (Kate Beckinsale), and an aviation pioneer who helps build TWA into a major airline. But in private, Hughes remains tormented, suffering from paralyzing phobias and depression. The higher he rises, the further has to fall.

RED EYE

2005 THRILLER / MYSTERY IMDB 6,4

Did you know? In commercial aviation, a red-eye flight is a flight scheduled to depart at night and arrive the next morning. The term “red-eye” derives from the symptom of having red eyes, which can be caused by fatigue.

Plot: In the wake of her grandmother’s funeral, hotel manager Lisa Reisert (Rachel McAdams) is waiting to fly back home when she meets charming Jackson Rippner (Cillian Murphy) at check-in. She thinks it’s lucky that they’re seated together on the plane, but soon learns otherwise. Jackson hopes to assassinate the head of Homeland Security, but to do so, he needs Lisa to reassign the official’s room number at her hotel. As insurance, Jackson has kidnapped Lisa’s father (Brian Cox).

FLIGHT PLAN

2005 THRILLER / MYSTERY IMDB 6,3

For an avgeek it is always hard to watch a movie in which “fake” airplanes are used. In this one it is a better looking A380. 

Plot: Airplane engineer Kyle Pratt (Jodie Foster) is heading home from Germany to New York on a double-decker Elgin 474 to bury her husband. But three hours into the flight, she awakens to find her young daughter missing — and the entire flight crew, including Capt. Rich (Sean Bean) and Air Marshal Gene Carson (Peter Sarsgaard), claims that the child was never on board. Determined to find her daughter, Kyle searches the limited space of the plane, all the while trying to maintain her sanity.

FLIGHT

2012 Drama / Thriller IMDB 7,3

The movie tackles the very real issues that some pilots have had with drugs and alcohol. Pilots are regular people, and in my opinion they are more susceptible to addiction given the irregular schedules, sleep loss, loneliness, and temptation faced when living out of a suitcase on multi day trips.

Plot: Commercial airline pilot Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) has a problem with drugs and alcohol, though so far he’s managed to complete his flights safely. His luck runs out when a disastrous mechanical malfunction sends his plane hurtling toward the ground. Whip pulls off a miraculous crash-landing that results in only six lives lost. Shaken to the core, Whip vows to get sober — but when the crash investigation exposes his addiction, he finds himself in an even worse situation.

INTERSTELLAR

2014 SIFI / ADVENTURE IMDB 8,6 

This is one of my favorite aviation movies. Thrilling, exciting and makes you think Less aviation but more space travel.

Plot: In Earth’s future, a global crop blight and second Dust Bowl are slowly rendering the planet uninhabitable. Professor Brand (Michael Caine), a brilliant NASA physicist, is working on plans to save mankind by transporting Earth’s population to a new home via a wormhole. But first, Brand must send former NASA pilot Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and a team of researchers through the wormhole and across the galaxy to find out which of three planets could be mankind’s new home.

NON STOP

2014 ACTION / THRILLER IMDB 6,9

Plot: Alcoholic and world-weary, U.S. Air Marshal Bill Marks (Liam Neeson) lost his passion for his work long ago. Even though lives are potentially at stake during every flight, he sees the assignment as just a desk job. However, his “ordinary day at the office” becomes a high-stakes crisis during a flight to London. Marks receives a series of text messages demanding that he instruct the airline to transfer $150 million into an offshore account, or a passenger will die every 20 minutes.

SULLY

2016 DRAMA IMDB 7,4

Pilot Sully, our aviation hero. It is shocking to see which legal processes he had to go through even though he saved all lives. 

Plot: On Jan. 15, 2009, Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) tries to make an emergency landing in New York’s Hudson River after US Airways Flight 1549 strikes a flock of geese. Miraculously, all of the 155 passengers and crew survive the harrowing ordeal, and Sullenberger becomes a national hero in the eyes of the public and the media. Despite the accolades, the famed pilot now faces an investigation that threatens to destroy his career and reputation.

7500

2019 Thriller / Drama IMDB 6,3

The movie was entirely shot from inside the cockpit. Sounds boring. Not really. It had some really exciting but also illogical parts. Find out yourself. 

Plot: Tobias Ellis starts his shift as a co-pilot and everything seems normal, but things quickly take a turn when terrorists storm the cockpit of his Airbus A319, and hijack the plane.

THE AERONAUTS

2019 ADVENTURE / DRAMA IMDB 6,6

Plot: In 1862 headstrong scientist James Glaisher and wealthy young widow Amelia Wren mounted a balloon expedition to fly higher than anyone in history. As their perilous ascent reduces their chances of survival, the unlikely duo soon discover things about themselves — and each other — that help both of them find their place in the world.

AD ASTRA

2019 Science Fiction / Drama IMDB 6,5 

Not a movie about aviation rather about space travel. I really enjoyed how the filmmakers visualized the future traveling to the moon and mars. 

Plot: Thirty years ago, Clifford McBride led a voyage into deep space, but the ship and crew were never heard from again. Now his son — a fearless astronaut — must embark on a daring mission to Neptune to uncover the truth about his missing father and a mysterious power surge that threatens the stability of the universe.

Enjoy watching my favorite aviation movies. Make sure you like my blog post and let me know about which one is your favorite!

I wish you a merry Christmas my Aviator! Stay safe and healthy!

Your PilotPatrick