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Tom Cruise Really Thought He’d Be Allowed to Pilot an F/A-18 Super Hornet for Top Gun

Tom Cruise’s mantra is to deliver high-quality, convincing, and immersive entertainment on the big screen. This means that he leaves no stunt to the stuntmen if he can do it himself and the insurance department clears it.
Tom Cruise wasn't allowed to pilot an F/A-18 Super Hornet in Maverick, so he had to settle for being a passenger 12 photos
Top Gun: Maverick second trailer includes plenty of aerial actionTop Gun: Maverick second trailer includes plenty of aerial actionTop Gun: Maverick second trailer includes plenty of aerial actionTop Gun: Maverick second trailer includes plenty of aerial actionTop Gun: Maverick second trailer includes plenty of aerial actionTop Gun: Maverick second trailer includes plenty of aerial actionTop Gun: Maverick second trailer includes plenty of aerial actionTop Gun: Maverick second trailer includes plenty of aerial actionTop Gun: Maverick second trailer includes plenty of aerial actionTop Gun: Maverick second trailer includes plenty of aerial actionTop Gun: Maverick second trailer includes plenty of aerial action
That said, there are limits to what Tom Cruise can and can’t do, and piloting an F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jet is one of them. Top Gun: Maverick, which opens in U.S. theaters on May 27, sees him reprise the role of Pete “Maverick” Mitchell after nearly three decades, and this means fresh aerial action sequences and plenty of awesome dogfighting scenes are coming our way.

The movie was initially supposed to come out in 2020, so it’s been on the promo trail for a very long time. The fact that real F/A-18 Super Hornets are used, a real Navy base, real Navy helicopters, and that the movie was made Pentagon’s direct stamp of approval have been widely mediated. One tiny detail that slipped through the cracks is that Tom Cruise really hoped he’d be the one to pilot a fighter jet.

For the dogfighting aerial scenes, actors had to undergo special training that would allow them to act, say their lines, and turn on their cameras at the correct time without puking or losing their cool. Cruise, as producer and experienced pilot (and overall badass), was in charge of the training program. Still, the actors sat in the cockpit, with a real Navy pilot at the controls.

As ScreenRant points out, Cruise hoped he’d be the pilot, so he asked the US Navy to grant him permission. “[Producer Jerry] Bruckheimer maintains that the US Navy ultimately denied Cruise's requests to fly the Super Hornet, which boasts a price tag in excess of $70 million,” the report adds. Like the rest of the cast, Cruise had to settle for being a passenger in the fighter jet. It’s still more than most action movie stars can brag about but still falls short of his expectations.

Cruise has built his action movie star reputation around the fact that he does most of his stunts, even the most dangerous ones that insurers balk at. In Maverick, he still flies “some” helicopters and a P-51 propeller-driven fighter plane, both of which he's licensed for, because he believes CGI (computer-generated imagery) cheapens the storytelling experience, even if used in combination with old-school physical stunt work. Just don’t let Michael Bay hear that.



 
 
 
 
 

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