No fly zone: The Top Gun hype machine may have taken a highway to the danger zone - as it has emerged that star Tom Cruise did not actually pilot the $70 million F-18 Super Hornet which he is seen 'flying' in the film
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The Top Gun hype machine may have taken a highway to the danger zone – as it has emerged that star Tom Cruise did not actually pilot the $70 million F-18 Super Hornet which he is seen ‘flying’ in the film.

Cruise, 59, famously insists that he does his own stunts and has been banging the drum for the authenticity of Top Gun: Maverick.

The film, released on May 27th, shows his character Maverick flying supersonic jets on a dangerous secret mission – at ‘Mach 2 with his hair on fire,’ as Cruise puts it.

No fly zone: The Top Gun hype machine may have taken a highway to the danger zone - as it has emerged that star Tom Cruise did not actually pilot the $70 million F-18 Super Hornet which he is seen 'flying' in the film

No fly zone: The Top Gun hype machine may have taken a highway to the danger zone – as it has emerged that star Tom Cruise did not actually pilot the $70 million F-18 Super Hornet which he is seen ‘flying’ in the film

Cruise and others have spoken in numerous interviews about how they went through months of training to be able to handle G-Forces and say their lines in the film without passing out or vomiting.

However, veteran producer Jerry Bruckheimer has come clean and admitted that although they had clearance to put Cruise and other actors in the F-18s, they were merely passengers in the cockpit.

Bruckheimer said that Cruise had filed a request to be allowed to fly the plane, but was denied clearance by the Navy – presumably on the grounds that the $70 million plane was simply too expensive to be entrusted someone who is not actually a fighter pilot.

Keen pilot: Cruise, 59, famously insists that he does his own stunts and has been banging the drum for the authenticity of Top Gun: Maverick

Keen pilot: Cruise, 59, famously insists that he does his own stunts and has been banging the drum for the authenticity of Top Gun: Maverick

In Top Gun: Maverick he flies other planes and is seen apparently flying the Super Hornet via cameras installed – but experience Navy pilots are holding the stick.

Cruise is an experienced pilot and is seen genuinely flying other planes in the movie, which comes out later this month.

He said: ‘I’ve always been a physical actor, have always been developing a physical language, but now I’m also an aerobatic pilot. I fly warbirds. The P-51 in this movie is mine, the Red Tail [the period silver plane Cruise flies on screen love interest Jennifer Connelly in].

‘I have done more aerial sequences than any other actor, from Top Gun to American Made to Mission Impossible Fallout [that saw him put that helicopter into a controlled spin and perform the first ever on-screen High Altitude Low Open, or HALO, skydive out the back of that C-17].

Flying high: The film, released on May 27th, shows his character Maverick flying supersonic jets on a dangerous secret mission ¿ at 'Mach 2 with his hair on fire,' as Cruise puts it

Flying high: The film, released on May 27th, shows his character Maverick flying supersonic jets on a dangerous secret mission – at ‘Mach 2 with his hair on fire,’ as Cruise puts it

Oh dear: Jerry Bruckheimer said that Cruise had filed a request to be allowed to fly the plane, but was denied clearance by the Navy

Oh dear: Jerry Bruckheimer said that Cruise had filed a request to be allowed to fly the plane, but was denied clearance by the Navy

‘I was always looking towards Top Gun. Even though I hadn’t yet committed to it, I was already developing a visual language of what we could do. I was always developing and studying the rigs. I was interested in making those movies anyway, of course, but it was also a progression in storytelling, in understanding how to do it, from a technical standpoint and a story standpoint. I don’t make a movie just to make a movie. And I’ve been that way my whole life.’

He added: ‘What we have achieved with the aerial sequences is genuinely something that people will never have seen before. We’ve trained actors to be able to fly and perform in real F/A-18s. And, to do that, we took the greatest fighter pilots in the world [from the U.S. Navy] and we taught them about movies – the pilot and the actor had to work as a team.’

Cruise underwent a full Aviation Survival Training Curriculum before going up in the US Navy F-18, as did his co-stars. They worked up to the supersonic jets by going up in a succession of slower planes first over many months.

Passenger: Veteran producer Jerry admitted that although they had clearance to put Cruise and other actors in the F-18s, they were merely passengers in the cockpit

Passenger: Veteran producer Jerry admitted that although they had clearance to put Cruise and other actors in the F-18s, they were merely passengers in the cockpit

Much has been made of Cruise’s insistence on real flying scenes, with no CGI work. He has said in numerous interviews that he refused to even talk about a Top Gun sequel unless they flew in real planes.

Cruise said: ‘For years, people had said, ‘Can’t you shoot [the movie] with CGI?’ And I always said, ‘No. That’s not the experience.’ I said, ‘I need to find the right story. And we’re going to need the right team. This movie is like trying to hit a bullet with a bullet. I’m not playing.’

Cruise learned to fly when he was 31 and made The Firm with director Sydney Pollack. When the movie wrapped Pollack gave him a gift of flying lessons, saying: ‘You gotta learn how to fly now, or you’re never gonna do it. I know it’s one of your passions – you gotta go do it. It’s gonna take you forever to do this…’ Six weeks later he took Pollack to dinner and told him that he had learned to fly. He then began a ‘really fun game’ with the director, who told him that passing the IFR rating would take him years.

High flyer: He said: 'I've always been a physical actor, have always been developing a physical language, but now I'm also an aerobatic pilot

High flyer: He said: ‘I’ve always been a physical actor, have always been developing a physical language, but now I’m also an aerobatic pilot

Cruise said: ‘A little while later, I took him to dinner… And we’re eating and then at the end I say, ‘I’m going to pay the bill’ and I opened my wallet and put it on the table as I got my cash out, and he looked down at my wallet and there was my IFR license in it. He said, ‘You ****r! What are you doing?’

Captain Brian ‘Ferg’ Ferguson is a Topgun veteran and served as the film’s Naval Aviation Technical Advisor and Aerial Coordinator. He said: ‘You have this enormous scale production company with global movie stars trying to recreate an iconic film. And then you have Naval Aviation, with all its aircraft, ships, personnel and bases. About a billion moving parts collectively between them. And we had to find a way to seamlessly integrate these two robust entities with a lot of strings involved at no burden to the American taxpayer.’

Cruise’s next project is collaborating with Elon Musk on a film to be made at least partly in space.

Passion: Much has been made of Cruise's insistence on real flying scenes, with no CGI work. He has said in numerous interviews that he refused to even talk about a Top Gun sequel unless they flew in real planes

Passion: Much has been made of Cruise’s insistence on real flying scenes, with no CGI work. He has said in numerous interviews that he refused to even talk about a Top Gun sequel unless they flew in real planes

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