‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Finally Arrives Friday, But Until Then…


The long-awaited release of Tom Cruise’s “Top Gun: Maverick” will finally arrive in theaters on Friday (May 27), and the aviation world is champing at the bit. As a sidebar teaser to the release, Cruise teamed up with Late Late Show host James Corden for a legitimately funny and very well-filmed 15-minute video that opens on the ramp of Burbank Airport at 4:56 am. Cruise arrives in a HondaJet, then spirits Corden away to a desert airfield where the British talk show host reprises the role of “Goose” from the back seats of, first, Cruise’s P-51 Mustang and then an Aero L-39 Albatros jet. The air-to-air footage is top notch. Cruise does all the flying in the warbirds, while Corden does an admirable job of holding onto his lunch.

As for what to expect from the actual 2:17-long movie, National Public Radio reviewer Justin Chang’s headline warns, “‘Top Gun: Maverick’ is ridiculous. It’s also ridiculously entertaining.” Besides Cruise’s aging-but-still-hotheaded Maverick, key characters include the original-film backseater Goose’s son “Rooster” and a poignant reprise of actor Val Kilmer’s “Iceman.” Chang calls the film “an intergenerational male weepie, a dad movie of truly epic proportions.”

One thing the film is not, is computer-generated. All the characters who played pilots learned what it’s like to really fly—because Cruise insisted that they actually do so.

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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  1. “and the aviation world is champing at the bit”. This almost made me happier to read than the movie preview. And don’t get me started on 10 items or less. (What is less than an item?!) 🙂

    • Thanks for noticing. “Chomping” in that metaphor is one of my niggly little language peeves, like “flack” for “flak.”

  2. What is not mentioned. This movie was delayed when the Communist Chinese complained that the “enemy” in the movie was them. So the producers painstakingly modified the images and text to make the North Koreans the bad guys. I wouldn’t pay five cents to watch this movie and reward one of the most repressive dictatorial regimes in the world, and their stooges in Hollywood. I’ll stick to Jimmy Stewart and Ronald Reagan movies, both who made major contributions to the Army Air Corps in WWII, not fake military stunts from a narcissistic phony actor.

    • That’s completely inaccurate. Tom Cruise’s jacket, compared to the 1986 movie, was changed in pre-production to remove the Japanese and Taiwanese flags. This WAS due to Chinese influence because they were financing the movie. Still a horrible influence but not the cause of the delay. Be accurate in your accusations!!

      The delay was 1. due to coronavirus, and then 2. After initial screenings, of just the first 15 minutes of the movie, the feedback was so bad they went back and re-edited the movie to fix the issues. It sounds like it had all the makings of a total bomb based on those who saw it.

      And finally, maybe Tom Cruise hasn’t served, and I’m sure he’s narcissistic just like all actors, and many online commenters, but the stunts are amazingly real and he’s done more to promote aviation than you are giving him credit for. So, go ahead, go watch 12 O’clock High for the 100th time, I’ll be giving away way to much of my money this weekend to be entertained by this movie.

  3. I think the aviation world is busy with the business of aviation.
    Watching actors play aviators on a screen is fine but honestly I’d rather actually be out flying.

  4. I can’t believe you guys! Something fun, has real airplanes, entertaining, a departure from all the mess surrounding us these days, and all you can do is be a Debby Downer. And Tom not being in the military, only 7% of the total population today have ever served in the military and based on the direction military needs are taking, only 1% will ever do so in the future. Has everybody on here done so? So Tom not having done so, what, he can’t as an actor, play the role of a military pilot? And, he is a real pilot, skilled, with lots of experience. Sit back and enjoy the movie. It’s for fun! Like as in “get a life”. Oh yea…I was USAF….which actually didn’t affect my Aeronca flying skills that much though.

    • Tom Cruise is Hollywood-weird. He is also a good entertainer. He is a good actor and has the smarts to produce and/or direct.

      Also, he is a steadfast proponent of general aviation.

    • I don’t care about his military service or lack thereof nearly as much as the fact that a certain portion of what I pay for tickets or DVDs will go to Cruise’s religious cult.

  5. “Oh yea…I was USAF….which actually didn’t affect my Aeronca flying skills that much though.”

    Oh yea…I was ARMY….which actually didn’t affect my Aeronca flying skills that much though.

    FIFY, And you don’t need skills, Airknockers require patience, and lots of it.

    • I was an enlisted airman in the Air Force, 1954-57. I learned out to fly Airknockers during my last year in the Air Force. My Air Force experience had no bearing on my slowly acquired Airknocker skills.

      But, when it came time to get my instrument rating in 1959, my USAF experience did pay off. That’s because I spent my last year assigned to the flight simulation section. F-100C simulator and Link C-11 instrument trainers (similar to a T-33.) I “flew” the F-100C almost every day and logged about 80 hours in the C-11s, which was signed off by a captain who also was a civilian CFI.

      • Yea. My USAF time was ’64 – ’68. I had my PPL when I enlisted. But through the Vance aero club, got my commercial and CFI and then became a club instructor. We still had two T-34s in the club. LOVED THEM! My Walter Mitty Top Gun time. And my first self taught loop. Had I not had my harness tight, I would have fallen out the canopy at the top of the loop.

  6. … and your refusal to watch a movie will “reward” the Chinese government how, Kent?

    Aside from giving you yet another excuse to inject irrelevant political issues into an aviation forum.

    All the incredible low-level flying in the movie was done by Naval Aviators. No green-screen, no animation, no punches pulled. Yes, Jimmy and Ronnie served (well, Reagan made movies stateside) but these guys are actually SERVING.

    If you have not seen the movie, and have no intention of seeing the movie, what exactly, gives you any authority to comment on the movie, Kent?

  7. Ok, guys, this movie is meant to unite those of us who are passionate about our love of flying, no matter what skill level or career. All those involved in making this level of motion picture – aviation action adventure- took it to the next level of cinematography, and showing aviation in a positive light. We most likely won’t see another for a long time. Regarding the storyline, this movie is targeting a general audience, not only aviation buffs. Don’t think for a minute that they could not have achieved a stellar documentary, if that’s what they wanted. They wanted to bring it to everyone who came to the theater, daring to dream, and “feel the need for speed”. And yes, some will take that first step through a flight school door, whether for a discovery flight, first lesson, or coming back after a long absence.

    Don’t forget, the actors had 3 months of flight training from Cessnas up to aerobatics in jets…at least 2 got their private pilot ticket…and their stories will be told to friends and family a long time.

    Isn’t this what our grass roots flying is all about? Don’t we want to inspire others what we’ve known a long time? Get your flight clubs and flight schools ready. The first step is coming.

    • Susan, grass roots?
      I’ve flown young eagles, neighbors, friends and countless co-workers in my plane over the last 30 years and exactly zero have completed a private rating. We are a small community and are already all brought together as a family by overcoming the insanely high hurdles of aviation (medical, regulations, certifications, endorcements, flight reviews, currency, annuals, AD’s, weather, airspace). We’re all nuts because we stick to it even beyond reason; and that’s what makes us supportive of all of us who do.

      Campy movies? Not so much. I just hopes it gives use a few new lines to quote. The “because I was inverted” is way long in the tooth. 😉

  8. ‘Don’t we want to inspire others what we’ve known a long time? ‘

    And, I would be in that camp. But a group so varied and large as aviation has, like any other sizable entity, many different factions among its ranks. Respectfully, pilots are not a homogeneous group any more than motorcyclists or boaters are.

    Most, yes most pilots I run into at my sizeable hangar-rich field frankly don’t give a whit about promoting flying and would probably be unable to do so, for intuitive and personality reasons alone.
    Look at any similar group and you will find the marketing dept., the maintainance dept., R&D, etc. down the line. This division is found on these threads, too, and always seems to include snarling gummit haters, know-it-alls and unnecessary political absurdity in the mix.

    Very few in my experience are cut out to be advocates for much of anything – but for those that are fit for the job to champion our love for flying, you always have my support.

    • There are numerous adjectives to describe what flying is like in our blood, and yet most not quite enough. That feeling is what unites us, who are really bit by the flying bug, in spite of all the hoops to jump through, and even if we have to stop flying for financial reasons, family obligation, or health…that feeling often lingers, as we look up hearing a plane passing overhead, or see anything aviation related.

      Once I was at an event where the late Gene Cernan (last man on the moon) spoke after receiving an award. He said something that really resonated with us in attendance: “Let’s face it, we’re hear because we love flying. I just got lucky….the real heroes are those guys in the back (pointing to USAF Airmen who were there being recognized for above and beyond heroism).”

      We stay because of the love affair with flight, in spite of it all.

      And yes, with all the incentives from aviation scholarships of all kinds to intro flights, to Young Eagles, CAP, and many other programs, getting a ticket is not for everyone, not for most, but a seed was sown…a sample of the freedom of a bird in flight, a story they may share many times over…not always instant gratification or action…but I think we’ll keep trying.

  9. Saw it today, 5/27, in a theater filled about 50%. The movie is not bad, keeping in mind strict “realism” is not necessarily required in an action/adventure movie. Make no mistake, that’s what this is. The good guys get into some tough scrapes, deal with thick-headed superiors, yada yada, pretty much the same plotline as any interchangeable Elvis movie with flying scenes instead of songs. I had not read the previous comment about editing & the first 15 minutes until after I saw the movie and that could explain why the first 15 minutes seemed a little slow and forced. It’s easy to poke holes in Hollywood depictions of aviation and it will be even easier if the next blockbuster (Do those even happen anymore?) happens to be about ballooning. All in all I enjoyed it, and you might too. The original “Top Gun” turned out to be an effective recruiting film for the USN, mostly due to the live-action footage of real Naval aviation ops. Maybe it will happen again, for the same reasons.