The high-flying, high-intensity stunts were a signature part of the original "Top Gun," so it's no wonder "Top Gun: Maverick" features several sequences of incredible aerial stunts. With such realistic-looking sequences, it's easy to imagine the actors are actually flying during these scenes — and that's partially true! While they're obviously not actually the ones at the controls during these incredible maneuvers, the actors got to participate firsthand for added realism.
According to Fortune, the Pentagon forbids civilian personnel from actually controlling major assets like the F/A-18 fighter jets depicted in the movie. Instead, the actors who play the fictional team of elite aviators were flown by military pilots along with IMAX-quality cameras.
While they weren't literally at the controls, though, that didn't stop the actors from having to go through some serious training just to be able to be a passenger in these fighter jets! The Ringer detailed the intense training program — spearheaded by Tom Cruise himself — that included dozens of hours of actual flight training, learning about survival tactics, and sustaining up to 8 Gs while in flight.
The results were impressively realistic-looking flight sequences, plus some very uncomfortable and challenging moments for the actors.
"I had about three months of flight training before starting the movie. That time was important to get comfortable with the crafts but also to build up our G-force tolerance, because all of the aerial elements were shot practically. The training started in a Cessna, and moved to an Extra 300, a single-prop aerobatics craft, where you start to improve your G-tolerance. From there we got into an L-39 Albatros, flying with these guys called The Patriots, who are the civilian equivalent to the Blue Angels," Miles Teller, who plays Goose, told Men's Health. "The F-18 is just a completely different beast. Every element of our training came into play during those sequences, all of the breathing techniques and tolerances. Every single day of the shoot we were really getting after it, up until the very last day people were fainting and puking."
Throughout production, the actors also had to keep up with their training in between filming their actual scenes.
"We were doing it during the entire time we were filming, which was a 10-month shoot," Monica Barbaro, who plays Phoenix, told the New York Daily News. "If we ever had a day off from filming, we would be sent over to the airport to go fly . . . to keep sustaining Gs. It would've been a huge disservice to get out of shape."
As it turned out, a few of the actors were inspired by the intense experience and have continued flying since wrapping the movie.
"I started flying on my own, and Tom was with me every step of the way," Glen Powell, who plays Hangman in the sequel, revealed to The Ringer. "After I got my private pilot's license, there was a note waiting for me on the ground from Tom that said, 'Welcome to the Skies.'"