True fans of the 80s cult classic, ‘Top Gun’, are going crazy about its newly released sequel, ‘Top Gun: Maverick’. The true fascination, though, lies in the thoughtful collaboration between real aviation professionals and the makers of the film.
These 6 Aircraft Appear in “Top Gun: Maverick”:
What most moviegoers may not know is that about 90% of the film is real flying utilizing accurate military tactics in the scenes and shooting from the air in aircraft such as the ever-popular light jet, the Phenom 300.
‘Top Gun: Maverick’ was roughly 6 years in the making before its release, and for many reasons. The film without a doubt never would have been possible without the officers of the U.S. Naval Air Force, along with so many other aviation professionals, that the directors and producers recruited for their expert knowledge.
Capt. J.J. Cummings is among the service members that received a call about 5 years ago; a call that marked the journey that resulted in ‘Top Gun: Maverick’. Cummings’ call sign is “Yank” and has over 30 years of experience flying mostly F-14 Tomcats and F-18 Super Hornets.
Cummings offered his invaluable expertise and candid opinions during the initial development stages. Specifically, he made important distinctions between the 1986 original film and this new-age movie idea.
He told the director, “If you try to make a sports movie after we’ve been at war since 2001, and we’ve all been flying missions over the beach and Afghanistan, Iraq – you’re going to lose the military audience.”
From a filmmaking standpoint, the main issue was this: drama sells tickets. Sure, there are avid aviators out there that would love a fighter pilot movie representative of the technical aspects of their job, but pilot fighter jargon is far from a universal language. Cummings quickly realized while helping with the screenplay that they had to find the perfect balance between Air Force realness and viewer intrigue.
Quick Fact: The actors in the film endured extensive flight training and on-the-ground preparation. Actors hit the skies with professional pilots for about an an hour at a time, a few times per day.
As a result of the years of thought that went into production, only about 12% of the final cut was made using CGI. Cinematographer Claudio Miranda said, “Sometimes you’d try to keep it in shot and the mess of what it is had more energy, so a lot of what we wanted was using long lens and trying to keep in the frame but not doing a good job. All that makes it much more exciting and real and human”. For low-altitude runs, the speeding vistas in the background enhanced the feeling of danger and action when Maverick made his routes.
How were aerial scenes filmed?
Short answer: The ever-popular Phenom 300.
Long Answer: A modified Embraer Phenom 300 was utilized to shoot all of the aerial scenes in the film. Motion Picture stunt pilot Kevin LaRosa was one of many crew members that had a heavy hand in the extremely technical and logistical aspects of directing in the air.
All approach and takeoff footage, and 360° shots of the USS Abraham Lincoln, were filmed from the high-resolution cameras mounted onto the nose of the Phenom.
Browse @k2_larosa on Instagram to watch extensive aerial footage on the Phenom 300 and other aircraft.
Some features of the Phenom Camera Jet include:
- Dual-mounted Shotover F1 Gimbals
- State-of-the-art cockpit instrumentation with additional video monitors
- Spacious cabin for up to 6 film crew members
- Unparalleled safety and aerial camera platform