If there is one thing that has remained a constant since the first Top Gun screamed into theaters three decades ago, it’s Tom Cruise’s need for speed.
After rumors circulated last week that production on Top Gun: Maverick had again been halted so the actor could pilot his personal fighter jet for the film, Paramount Pictures confirmed that, yes, the hotly anticipated sequel will feature Cruise performing some of his own stunts. The studio also clarified that the production hasn’t been put on hold.
Better yet, Paramount revealed that Cruise will be piloting an aircraft that is far more exotic than anything currently in the Navy fleet.
In May, Cruise posted a photo to Instagram that indicated Pete “Maverick” Mitchell had upgraded from an F-14 Tomcat to an F/A-18E/F Super Hornet strike fighter in the intervening years since the Cold War. However, Entertainment Weekly recently confirmed that even a big-name actor like Cruise doesn’t have the star power to step into the cockpit of a Hornet. From EW (emphasis ours):
… civilians are not allowed to use government equipment, particularly militarized jets — so even Tom Cruise can’t just take off in an F/A-18 Hornet, even if he does feel the need, the need for speed. (I know, we’re a bit bummed about that too).
However, Cruise, a licensed pilot, has gone through extensive training for the film and will do some of his own flying “in certain aircrafts.”
So what exactly are those “certain aircrafts”? While it’s unclear which specific airframes Paramount might utilize during the production, a new batch of photos has surfaced showing Cruise rocking what appears to be a stylized high-altitude pressure suit on the set of the sequel. And therein lie some potential clues.
“The interesting thing is that the flight suit appears to be a high-altitude pressure suit similar to the actual ones worn by high altitude reconnaissance pilots in aircraft like the U-2 and SR-71,” notes The Aviationist. “Notice the wide, round neck ring for a pressure suit helmet and the two fittings to the suit for life support and pressurization.”
Does this mean that we’ll see Maverick in the cockpit of an SR-71 or it’s secretive SR-72 “Son Of Blackbird” successor? Perhaps.
Given that the original synopsis for Top Gun: Maverick focused on the rise of drone aircraft, producers may have since added a hypersonic plot wrinkle. And while Cruise clearly won’t be piloting an actual SR-71, we are totally here for it anyway. And considering that the original Blackbird could outrun missiles, that would almost certainly satisfy Cruise’s need for speed — if only onscreen.