Did Tom Cruise Learn to Fly for 'Top Gun'? Here's What You Need to Know About the Aviation Buff

Rebecca Macatee - Author

Apr. 21 2020, Updated 11:26 a.m. ET

tom cruise in top gun maverick
Source: YouTube/Paramount Pictures

Everyone's talking about the Top Gun: Maverick trailer and Tom Cruise flying jets in the highly anticipated movie sequel. Many people have been wondering if that's really Tom in the pilot's seat and if he learned to fly for the movie. Here's what you need to know.

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Did Tom Cruise learn to fly for 'Top Gun'? The star is actually a real pilot! 

Tom fell in love with aviation while filming the original Top Gun, which was released in 1986. He got his private pilot's license in 1994 and has been active in the flying community ever since. In an interview with Wired

Tom confirmed he's a multi-engine instrument rated commercial pilot. That means you could legally hire him to fly you across the country, but we're guessing Tom's schedule is pretty booked up these days.

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So is that really him flying the plane in Top Gun: Maverick? 

Yes and no. Tom loves to do his own stunts, and he is fully capable of flying a private plane — but some of the fighter jets in the Top Gun sequel can only be piloted by aviators with military experience. 

In 2018, Paramount confirmed (via Fighter Jets World) that while Tom does fly "certain aircraft" in Top Gun: Maverick, he will not be flying the F/A-18 fighter jets. That's what editing and CGI are for!

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Top Gun: Maverick is "a love letter to aviation." 

When introducing the Top Gun: Maverick trailer at Comic Con, Tom told Conan O'Brien the movie was "a love letter to aviation."

"The aerial footage is really beautiful," he said of the film. "I'm a pilot myself, and I love flying, and I love aviation." Tom said his dream, since he was a little kid, "was to make movies and to fly airplanes." With Top Gun: Maverick, he gets to do both on an epic scale. 

did tom cruise learn to fly for top gun
Source: Youtube/Paramount Pictures
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This isn't Tom's first flying movie. 

He portrayed real-life TWA pilot turned drug smuggler Barry Seal in the 2017 film American Made, and in 2018's Mission Impossible — Fallout, Tom pulled off a death-defying stunt in a helicopter. He actually got his helicopter pilot's license so he'd be able to fly the real choppers in the film.

"We're always flying from one place to another because Tom's needed in so many places," Mission Impossible — Fallout's stunt director Wade Eastwood told Thrillist,. "I would always fly the choppers because I love helicopters and I'm a pilot. Tom is a great pilot, fixed-wing, and he got really into helicopters because they are just cool." 

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Putting an A-list movie star like Tom into these intense, high-flying scenes is high-risk and high reward, though. As Eastwood explained, "With Tom Cruise, I've got to make it as safe and as powerful and spectacular, but also if he's slightly damaged, we can't shoot anything else."

It's a good thing they're careful, because the world needs more Tom Cruise action movies. 

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The New Top Gun: Maverick trailer looks awesome.

Paramount just released the new trailer for Maverick that spills the beans on a few more plot points. The trailer opens up with someone narrating the exploits of Tom Cruise's character to a bunch of new recruits that he's training. In the lineup is Goose's son, played by Miles Teller, who's rocking a mustache, just like his dad did in the first film.

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Among his lauded characteristics is the fact that he was "one of the finest pilots" that the Top Gun "program has ever produced" and that his work is "legendary". We also learn that Maverick's been asked back to lead the program, despite the fact that even he admits he didn't think he'd be asked back.

What's really cool is that the soundtrack also seems to play heavily on '80s nostalgia.

There's some awesome synth lines blaring over epic-looking shots, and we're treated to a scene of Maverick wrecking the other pilots in a "dog-fighting" two-on-one match. We also see a glimpse of Jon Hamm, looking very concerned, and tempers flaring between new recruits. We also know that a big death occurs in the movie, as we catch yet another shot of Maverick saluting someone at the funeral.

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Source: Paramount Pictures

Does Goose's son suffer the same fate as his father in the new movie? We're also treated to what looks like an aerial battle shot in snow-capped mountains. Will the new movie follow the same plot format as the first film? With a bunch of recruits rising about shallow disputes in a high-stakes, competitive environment, only to take their battle skills to a real-life combat scenario?

We will see when Top Gear: Maverick hits theaters on June 26th, 2020. Are you excited to see Tom Cruise back in action?

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