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The Only Top Gun: Maverick Star Who Didn't Get Violently Ill During The Intense Training

Piloting a fighter jet isn't as simple as hitting the throttle and taking to the sky. Those that are given the task of operating these multi-million dollar airplanes of war often go through years of vigorous testing and training. Just look at the recent smash hit movie of "Top Gun: Maverick," which sees Pete Mitchell (Tom Cruise) train a recent crop of Top Gun students for a mission where human intuition and skill are more important than artificial intelligence and specialized equipment. 

According to Sky Combat Ace, the Top Gun program is real, and it is part of the Navy. Known as the Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor Program, Top Gun represents highly trained pilots that are capable of dealing with a robust array of problems that require an aerial touch.

Of course, the pilots in the real Top Gun program have an intense training regimen before reaching the respected military designation. So, it stands to reason that a standard issue actor may have some issues simply jumping into the seat of an F-18. As noted by the Dayton Airshow, the F-18 Super Hornet is the go-to aircraft for important Navy missions, and it is capable of attaining speeds of around 1,190 miles per hour. Needless to say, that kind of speed can certainly take its toll on the human body, which is probably why almost all of the actors playing pilots in "Top Gun: Maverick" became incredibly sick during filming. However, there was one who was unscathed.

Cruise designed a special way to train the actors in Top Gun: Maverick

The effects of gravity on the human body are well known. Britannica highlights the toll gravity can have on physiological processes, which is known as acceleration stress. A single unit of g-force is the equivalent of a body falling toward Earth, and pilots can begin to experience effects at one to two g-force, which typically begin to manifest as a heaviness upon the limbs. In ranges of three to four g-force, a pilot is at risk of not being able to keep their own head upright, as well as having difficulty breathing or suffering a loss of vision. At greater forces, the loss of consciousness is all but certain. In other words, even highly trained individuals are no match for the power of gravity.

Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter (via YouTube), "Top Gun: Maverick" producer Jerry Bruckheimer explained the real-life process that the actors in the movie underwent. Bruckheimer said that the actors went through three months of training, and noted that in the original "Top Gun," only Tom Cruise managed to not throw up during filming. He continued, "So Tom designed something where they first start in a prop plane. And then went to an aerobatic prop. Then they went to a jet. And then they went into the F-18. And there was only one person that didn't throw up through the entire process and that was Monica [Barbaro], our female [pilot]. And all the rest of them, they were throwing up in the planes."

Only Barbaro could handle the filming of Top Gun: Maverick

Jerry Bruckheimer went into further detail about the difficult filming conditions for the "Top Gun: Maverick" cast while speaking with The Hollywood Reporter. "They had to wipe their face," Bruckheimer said. "Because the cameras were on, they were up there for up to two hours. Cameras were rolling. So they had to redo their makeup, [and] they had to figure out where the sun is in the sky. So the actors were actually directing themselves. And when they came down, the director and Tom would look at the footage and say, 'Go back up.' And they're soaking wet and have to change their clothes. They went through hell."

This means that Monica Barbaro, who plays Natasha "Phoenix" Trace in "Top Gun: Maverick," was the only pilot-actor who did not suffer immensely from the real-life stress of high-powered flight. It is also fascinating to learn that these actors essentially directed themselves, mainly because a camera crew isn't exactly feasible in the cramped confines of a fighter jet. In other words, it sounds like many of the actors involved with "Top Gun: Maverick" definitely had to truly dedicate themselves to their roles because several hours of stomach-turning flight and vomiting isn't exactly the most welcoming of work environments. At least it is now known that Barbaro has nerves of steel that can stand up to the rigors of intense gravity.