Top Gun 2, the 2022 sequel to the hit ‘80s movie about naval aviators, is packed with amazing set pieces and death-defying stunts. However, it turns out that there was one stunt in the hit Tom Cruise movie that was so dangerous it even scared professional pilots in real life.
In the action movie, the pilots are tasked with flying a seemingly impossible simulation of a mission they have been assigned. Said exercise involved flying at low heights, shooting at a tiny target, and then speeding up along the side of a tall canyon at mind-boggling speeds – in order to survive enemy attacks. Maverick (played by Tom Cruise) decided to fly the course himself to show the pilots that the simulation wasn’t impossible and could be done in a two-minute-15-seconds run.
Speaking with Empire, Top Gun 2 director Joseph Kosinski recalled filming the above scene and shared how the sequence was flown by Navy pilot Frank ‘Walleye’ Weisser, who would only commit to doing the shot once – thanks to how risky it was.
“That was the most extreme thing we shot in the film, just in terms of the practicality of what you’re actually seeing on screen,” Kosinski explained.
“It’s all in-camera; it’s Tom Cruise at 550 knots, going 30 feet above ground through the Toiyabe [Canyon] low-level training grounds. That’s a real Top Gun training thing, but they never fly as low as he does. After they landed, Walleye came up to me and said, ‘Did you get it?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I think we did.’ He said, ‘Good, because I’m never doing that again.’”
But, although the professional pilot was adamant about not repeating the stunt, the director shared that Cruise would be game to repeat the shocking sequence if given a chance.
“He [Cruise] would have done it 100 more times!” Kosinski said. “In fact, I smile because when I watch that sequence, he’s wincing through the Gs, but I know under the mask he’s smiling for most of it because he’s having the time of his life.” It certainly took our breath away.
If you are after more sky-high fun, here is our guide to the Top Gun cast.