A Navy pilot once told Tom Cruise that he would “never do it again” during the filming of Top Gun: Maverick

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“Best Shooter: Maverick” is a big hit at the global box office, and one of the reasons the film is credited with rampant success is that instead of relying on computer graphics, Maverick used real fighter jets for the action of the film. This action is pretty incredible, but one moment in the film was apparently so dangerous that even a professional fighter pilot told Tom Cruise that he would never try to do it again.
In all the actual flight scenes in Maverick, the actor was paired with a fighter pilot who was flying while the actor performed his scenes for the camera. One of the highlights of Top Gun: Maverick comes when Tom Cruise’s character flies his plane just 50 feet above the ground, which obviously puts the plane on the brink of disaster. According to the New York Times, the plane was so close to the ground that it raised dust and caused the cameras on the ground to shake. The moment, apparently, was enough to shake up a professional fighter pilot.
Both Top Gun films mention a “hard deck”—the height limit above which pilots must stay during training. I admit that as a child I never understood why a rigid deck was needed, because it is obvious that during a real battle, no pilot would limit himself to an arbitrary height limit. However, Top Gun: Maverick makes it clear that the limit exists as a way to ensure the safety of pilots, as well as very expensive aircraft.
So flying so close to the ground is something that most pilots don’t have a lot of experience with, and the chance of error is very small, which increases the chance of accidents. This makes one wonder how the film was able to escape punishment for something that would never have been allowed during normal training. Top Gun: Maverick director Joseph Kosinski explained to the Times that in the end it all came down to the fact that the people making decisions in the navy were a bunch of Top Gun fans. Kosinsky says…
All the admirals who are now in power were 21 years old in 1986 or so when they signed up. They supported us and let us do all these crazy things.
It’s an oft-repeated story that after the release of the original movie, Navy recruitment skyrocketed, although apparently Navy pilots may be a little overzealous in their love of Top Gun. It’s pretty wild to think that some of the people inspired by the first movie have been promoted to positions over the past 35 years that put them in charge of making decisions when the long-awaited sequel to Top Gun finally becomes a reality. .