Top Gun

When deciding on what movie to put up here first, I have to admit this one popped into my head right off the bat.  I know there are better movies, certainly there are worse ones, and we’ll get to them all in good time, but Top Gun pretty much epitomizes the hollywood flying movie.  They’ve got factual elements in it, they use real airplanes wherever possible, but they’ve had to take certain liberties to bring a story to the screen for the public to enjoy.

Official Description: In TOP GUN, Tom Cruise stars as Maverick, a talented training pilot in an elite U.S. school for fighter pilots. When he stumbles upon some MiG’s over the Persian Gulf, and his wingman panics, Maverick cleverly talks him through the situation to safety. Consequently, he is moved up in rank and sent to the Top Gun Naval Flying School. There he has several conflicts with other students while trying to live up to his deceased father’s reputation. Unable to cope with the death of his best friend, and fellow pilot, Goose, Maverick contemplates dropping out, but follows through with his dream and ultimately becomes one of the “best of the best.”

Aircraft seen (portrayed):

  • Grumman F-14A “Tomcat”
  • Douglas A-4 “Skyhawk”
  • Norththrop F-5 “Tiger II” (Mig 28)
  • Vought A-7 “Corsair II”
  • Grumman A-6 “Intruder”
  • Sikorsky HH-3F “Pelican”

Flight scenes (20:10):

Flight Deck (0:01:05 – 0:04:04 = 2:59): This is a terrific scene and shows a lot about what takes place on the flight deck of a modern carrier during flight ops. (F14, A7, A6)

Bogies (00:04:25 – 0:09:45 = 5:25): Here we get to see what this movie is all about. ·There is some great shots in this sequence of the F-14 and the F-5. ·Ignoring the impossible canopy to canopy shot where Maverick and Goose keep up foreign relations, this is a pretty well choreographed close-in dogfight. (F14, F5)

Cougar’s Rescue (0:09:45 – 0:12:47 = 3:22): Cougar’s pretty shaken up by his “Mig” encounter, and can’t get back to the ship to land even with his RIO trying to get his attention.  Maverick aborts his landing approach at the last possible second to go get him.  I really enjoyed the shot of Cougar on final flying pretty poorly, and I think the pilot they got to do that approach did it very well. (F14)

1st Hop (0:29:47 – 0:33:35 = 3:48): Maverick and Goose go head-to-head with Jester for their first dogfight.  There is some of the best flight scenes in the entire movie during this scene.  Maverick gets his first try at the “hit the brakes and he’ll fly right by” move.  Maverick breaks the hard deck to kill Jester and is later reprimanded for it.  We also get to see Maverick’s cockiness when he dares to buzz the tower at Top Gun. (A4, F14)

Tactical Class (0:50:30 – 0:52:20 = 1:50):·No flying per se, but a great inclusion scene that shows the real AC simulation hard/software used for tactical review and analysis.·()

The Need for Speed (0:55:20 – 0:59:33 = 4:13):·We’re half way through the training here with Iceman in the lead and it’s two-on-two.  Jester and Viper are the “enemy” pilots while Hollywood takes the lead on Jester.  Viper breaks away, and Maverick just can’t let him go.  Once Maverick and Goose find Viper, they leave Hollywood to his own against Jester and chase him down.  Some more great flying here, and Maverick is almost going to take out Viper when he finds out (the hard way) that Jester killed Hollywood and proceeds to take him out. (F14, A4)

Flame Out (1:04:00 – 1:09:15 = 5:15):·Only two weeks till graduation, and this hop has two F14s vs three A4s.  Iceman cuts off Maverick to take the lead putting Maverick in trail.  Ice isn’t able to get the angle for a shot, so Maverick, Goose and even his own RIO are telling him to get off.  As Iceman peels off, Maverick and Goose end up flying right through his jetwash causing their engines to both flameout.  The resulting adverse yaw puts their F14 into a flat spin that is unrecoverable.  Ejecting into the (now) hovering canopy breaks Goose’s neck killing him instantly.·(F14, A4, HH-3F)

Keep Sending Him Up (1:14:48 – 1:16:44 = 1:56):·Maverick can’t get back in the saddle and engage the enemy even on an easy hop against a single A4.  Jester warns Viper that “he just might not make it back”.·(F14, A4)

MIGs (1:28:03 – 1:41:30 = 13:27):·Very long final scene for the movie starting with some more great flilght-ops shots onboard an aircraft carrier.  Iceman, and Hollywood are the two pilots who start the engagement with the MIGs with Maverick in the Alert-5.  Hollywood and his RIO don’t last too long, being taken out in the first pass when the pair of targets split into 5 separate enemy aircraft.  Maverick launches and catches up to Iceman who’s now gone completely defensive, but before he can engage, a MIG crosses his path and another jetwash incident ensues.  This time Maverick is able to regain control but it completely shuts him down.  After consulting with Goose’s dog tags, Maverick re-engages and takes the MIG out that is on Ice’s tail.  During the ensuing dogfight, Ice is hit a couple of times resulting in him needing to shut down one of his engines.  Maverick is able to vindicate himself for leaving his wingman from earlier by not doing so this time to Ice.  We also get to see him do his “hit the brakes” move one more time to use his last missle.  The scene ends with the ubiquitos flyby of the carrier.·(F14, A6, HH-3F, F5, A7)

Aircraft Footage:

  • 0:15:48 (F14) landing
  • 0:25:41 (A4/F14) in the background when we meet “Charlie”
  • 0:49:30 (707?) a military version used to transport Goose’s wife and son
  • 1:01:10 (A4?) picture of Maverick’s Dad
  • 1:17:50 (?) airliners in the background
  • 1:29:20 (HH-3F) leaving the carrier
  • 1:45:00 (F14) flying into the sunset

More Info:


Top Gun — 3 Comments

  1. Top Gun is a great movie. I spent 20 years in the Navy and could pick a lot of it apart for realism, but I think that it was well done and made reasonably realistic for non-military types. I enjoyed it and it was great PR for the Navy

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