Tom Cruise returns for the second installment of Top Gun, which promises to be an improvement on the first one. However, before the film’s premiere, Cruise teamed up with television host and actor James Corden to promote the movie. In 2018, Tom took James skydiving; in 2022, Tom strapped him into a plane piloted by the Mission Impossible star. 

“I’m gonna go up in a 75-year-old plane with someone who isn’t a pilot? Yeah, that sounds like a good idea,” Corden protested

If it were another actor, it’d be difficult to believe that they were a pilot. However, given Tom Cruise’s penchant for performing his own stunts, it’s pretty easy to fathom Cruise having a pilot’s license. 

Tom Cruise has held a pilot’s license since 1994

Tom Cruise qualified as a pilot in 1994, nearly three decades ago. Cruise reportedly owns several planes, including a luxury Gulfstream jet and his beloved P-51 Mustang, a WWII fighter that’ll appear in Top Gun

“The P-51 Mustang you see in the movie is actually my plane, so I got to pilot in those sequences,” Cruise told Hello magazine. “I also got to be in the jet fighter a lot more this time, which was thrilling. It was something I had been working up to.”

Cruise told the outlet that Top Gun allowed him to fulfill two dreams: flying and acting. “All I ever wanted to be was a pilot or an actor, so Top Gun was a huge moment in so many respects, including my passion for aviation,” Cruise said. “I got to actually fly in an F-14 jet which was a dream come true, and play a character I loved in Maverick.”

Tom told the PA News Service that he advocated for realism in the new Top Gun, translating to as little computer trickery as possible. For Cruise, a man with a decades-old flying license, flying would be easy, but the rest of the cast needed intense training. 

For three months, the actors developed skills crafted by Cruise and learned how to film while inside the aircraft. However, few can match Tom Cruise, as Miles Teller admitted that he never got used to the feeling:

“We trained for this for a long time, Tom had us in a flight programme for several months before we ever started filming. But it was never something you really ever got, like, super comfortable with, at least for me. It was something that every time I went up, it really tested me and I felt like I wanted to puke pretty much every time.”

Cruise didn’t get to fly the F-18 Super Hornet in Top Gun

Cruise may be an experienced pilot, but the military doesn’t hand the keys to one of their most prized assets to anyone with a flying license. 

The military hasn’t given a reason why it didn’t offer Cruise the F-18 Super Hornet, but we think money has a lot to do with it. The jet costs $70 million, nearly half of the film’s $152 budget. Few insurers would accept to insure potential damage of such an aircraft. 

Furthermore, despite having a pilot’s license, Cruise may not have the requisite skill to fly an F-18 safely – placing one in his hands would put lives at risk. The crew and cast filmed using real F-18 jets driven by trained Navy pilots. 

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