TOP GUN: The Stylish Aviation Classic

In the era before the 1980s…there were classics, there were award-winning masterpieces but something like a record-breaking blockbuster was perhaps not into the scheme of things. Though Steven Spielberg and George Lucas did come up with Star Wars and E.T. the quest for an all-out blockbuster was still missing. And…the quest was finally quenched with TOP GUN. An aviation thriller from 1986 which garnered around $357 globally. It was the highest-grossing movie of the year and one of the highest-grossing movies of the decade as well. Not just that, much more than the collections and benchmarks, what the world owes to this movie is the fact that it presented the world with one of the GREATEST Heros ever…Thomas Cruise Mapother IV…better known as TOM CRUISE.

How the Idea emerged?

To all of your surprise, the whole idea emerged from an article. The article published in the California magazine talked about the day-in-day-out life of a Top Gun trainee. Actually, the U.S. Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program was called Top Gun. The Naval Air Station used to be located near Miramar, San Diego till 1996, after which it was reallocated to Fallon, Nevada. Actually, it was set up during the 1960s, after the air loss during Vietnam War.

The Role of Military

As we saw, the movie filled many with a sense of patriotism and the desire to serve the country in security forces. The Navy used this to start recruitment program booths outside the movie theatres. As a result, there were a huge number of applications and 90% of them said that they joined after watching the movie. Not just that, the Navy even used the ‘Danger Zone’ song and other Top Gun scenes for its ‘Join the Navy’ commercial. Not just that, the US Pentagon (Defence Department) worked hand in hand with the makers of the movie. The only condition was that the Pentagon would review the whole script and allow it only if the image of the US Navy is coming out in a positive light.

Pic: The Patriotic Feeling of Top Gun

The scenes are for REAL

The scenes, that are there in the movie, are not CGI, not VFX, but have been shot in real-time. Neither were the technologies so advanced back then and nor would the scenes come out that effective, if shot artificially. Even, the in-air battles between the U.S. F-14 Tomcats and Russian MiG-28 Fighter Jets actually had to be shot in real-time over the Naval Air Station in Fallon and Nevada. And, for that to happen the director had to place cameras into the planes itself, along with a camera mounted on a Lear Jet.

Big Budget

As the movie seems from the outside, it is actually a very expensive deal. Can you believe, that the Paramount production paid $7800 per hour, each time they needed the aircraft outside their normal duties. Sometimes, the situation also paved out such that the director had to pay a $25,000 check just to move the ship for five minutes extra shoot. The movie was getting overbudgeted and even delayed so many times, that director was fired THRICE. But, somehow they reimposed their trust in him, but they didn’t know that they are paving the way for a Masterpiece.

Behind the scenes of Top Gun - The Declaration

Pic: Director Tony Scott

The Insane Craze 

Top Gun became such a sensation at that time, that amusement park rides also came up with its name. In Ohio’s Kings Island Amusement Park, a Top Gun Roller Coaster came up resembling an F-14 Tomcat with ‘Danger Zone’ playing in the background. Actually, this park came under the ownership of  But, the ride was renamed Flight Deck in 2008 and ‘The Bat’ in 2014 after a complete makeover. Other than this, a similar ride named Top Gun also existed at Great America,  Santa Clara, California. But, it too got its name changed to Flight Deck.

Not just the rides, the movie also fuelled a trend of wearing RayBan sunglasses. The craze was for real as the sales of Ray-Ban sunglasses were shot up by close to 40%. It was the biggest hike in its sales since its launch in 1936. Later, RayBan too came up with special Top Gun sunglasses.


Despite being an aviation-based thriller, ‘romance’ too got a decent place in the film. The character of Charlotte “Charlie” Blackwood played by Kelly McGillis is the love interest of Maverick. The steamy kissing and romantic scenes add an extra flavour to the film. The relationship too is kept quite orthodox and 1980s type, where initially they resist expressing their feelings before entering into a teacher-student romance. Earlier, the makers wanted to keep Charlie’s character as a groupie or a gymnast. But, once the makers met Fox, a mathematician working at the Cente of the Naval Analyses (across top Gun). Fox even served as the Acting US Deputy Secretary of Defence, which was the highest post held by a female officer in US Defence. So, actually, the whole character of McGills is based on a real-life lady. Wait, let me present you with another interesting fact. The love scene of the movie was actually filmed LATER. After the production was wrapped, and the screening took place for select audiences, the need for a love scene was felt. So, the scene was filmed after that.

Pin on Top Gun

Pic: Maverick and Charlie in Top Gun

Top Gun: Maverick and Goose's Impact as a Power Couple

Pic: Maverick and Goose in Top Gun


The ‘Two Peas in a Pod’ friendship between Maverick and Goose is the major highlight of the film. In a movie showing hardcore macho power, the warmth and affection of Maverick-Goose male friendship is the perfect balancing anecdote the movie needed. While Maverick is the daredevil, his friend Goose is his Wild Card. The major heartbreak and the turning point too come from this point only. As Goose dies in an aerial accident, even Maverick loses his old touch. He no longer has that confidence. The whole story then revolves in Maverick searching for his lost confidence while grieving the loss of Goose.

Music: The Perfect Blend 

The background music is another USP of the film. It is considered one of the best, as it went Platinum (1 million copies sold) nine times, and remained at the top spot five times. Kenny Loggins’ “Highway to the Danger Zone” to Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away”  were breakthrough hits. They created just the atmosphere, the movie needed. Loggins also gave some other hits to the soundtrack, such as ‘Danger Boys’ (this one came simply when Loggins gave the idea of a beach volleyball scene) and ‘Playing with the Boys’. Take My Breath Away even won the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

As a crazy fact, the whole music could have been very different from what it is. Bryan Adams, a big musical name was the first choice but he backed out as he thought the movie promoted war. The offer next went to REO Speedwagon for a song, but the band was somehow not able to come up with their composition. Even the song ‘Danger Zone’, was supposed to go to the TOTO Band, but pertaining to some dispute, the song came up to Kenny Loggins, who delivered a masterpiece from there.

Take My Breath Away (as heard in Top Gun) (Re-Recorded / Remastered) - song by Berlin | Spotify

Pic: Take My Breath Away song

That Feeling of Patriotism

Another major highlight of the film was the showcase of PATRIOTISM (of course in the American context). Irrespective of whether you are an American or not, you will be filled with respect and enthusiasm for the armed forces of any country. It was one of the first American movies to have gotten permission to use the assets of the US military, that too on such a large scale. After that, it became a trend, one after the other many big movies came that showcased and filled the audiences with Patriotism. But, the way Top Gun celebrated Patriotism, became one of its kind benchmarks for Hollywood.

Interesting Facts from the Film:

  1. Don’t Quote the Dialogues: You can’t quote the dialogues of the ‘Top Gun’ movie in the real Top Gun school, or else you will be fined $5 every single time.
  2. Changed Turning Point: Interestingly, the ‘Death’ that turned out as the game-changer for the movie, that whole sequence was actually changed by the Pentagon as it was not satisfied by the ‘reason’ of the accident.
  3. Not so tall…Tom: Tom Cruise used to wear lifts in order to appear taller. Actually, Crusie is 5’7″ and the female lead was a little taller at 5’10”. So, yes, even the Tom Cruise who jumps off the buildings usually, had to use lifts for his female lead.
  4. Imperfect: Despite being made with so much precision, there are several technical flaws in the movie. Because of that, on the military website ‘We Are the Mighty’, there exists an article ’79 Cringeworthy Technical Errors in Top Gun’. The most famous ones are that; Top Gun classes are held inside a classroom and not in a hangar and there is nothing called a Top Gun Trophy.
  5. The INDIAN Connection: Well…you can’t keep India out of anything…HA HA. The connection here is a bit indirect. Actually, some of our great veterans like Gunjan Saxena and Sunita Williams were inspired by this movie and even had its poster in their bedroom.

Top Gun: Maverick (2022) - IMDb

Pic: Top Gun Maverick hits theatres on May 27

And…the MAVERICK is Back

As most of you already would be knowing that the sequel of the movie is releasing later this month. The movie titled Top Gun: Maverick is releasing nearly 36 years after the original movie. You can easily see how big is the gap. Tony Scott, the director of the 1986 movie is no more, though he was interested in the sequel before he passed away in 2012. This edition is being directed by Joseph Kosinski. Another interesting fact is that the lead actress in the previous movie is now 64 years old and not fit to play the lead again. So, this instalment will feature a new actress, 51 years old Jennifer Connelly. The very fact that Tom Cruise is doing the sequel is itself exciting news because he had said multiple times that he will do the sequel only if the SCRIPT fares well.

The movie was ready but was getting delayed for the past 2 years. Whether it is the trailer or the clips, they are already giving the ‘Goosebumps’ vibe. It is a perfect recipe for an edge of the seat thrilling experience on the big screen. The movie has already been presented at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival and it has been getting RAVE reviews from whoever has seen it.. Above all, what really makes me excited and the movie special is the fact that it is the return of TOM CRUISE on the big screen after 4 years. So, as we remember the uniquely packed American package from the 80s…let’s also brace ourselves for the much-awaited sequel.

I want the audience to walk away saying…Aw, Yeah, I want to fly an FA-18…!!!!!

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