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The One Thing The Navy Wouldn't Let Tom Cruise Do In Top Gun: Maverick

Tom Cruise is set to return soon as everyone's favorite hotshot fighter pilot in "Top Gun: Maverick." Directed by Joseph Kosinski, the upcoming sequel to "Top Gun" is one of Hollywood's most-anticipated and longest-gestating projects, having faced a bevy of delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic (via The Hollywood Reporter).

When its predecessor first hit the big screen in 1986, it quickly became a smash-hit success, grossing over $170 million during its initial run, making it the highest-grossing film of that year (via Box Office Mojo). Directed by Tony Scott, the military-action film focused on Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (Cruise), a fighter pilot sent to TOPGUN, the premier Naval Fighter Weapons School. There, he butts heads with fellow pilot Iceman (Val Kilmer) and falls in love with Charlotte "Charlie" Blackwood (Kelly McGillis), an instructor at the prestigious school.

The upcoming sequel will see Maverick return to TOPGUN as an instructor. Of course, audiences around the world know Cruise for his death-defying stunts in the "Mission: Impossible" franchise, and the same sentiment extends here, as the star reportedly trained to fly several aircraft specifically for this film (via People). Unfortunately, the United States Navy made it clear that Cruise would not be allowed to fly one specific plane in the movie.

The Navy said Tom Cruise couldn't fly an F-18

In an interview with Empire Magazine, Tom Cruise revealed that he told fellow producer Jerry Bruckheimer that he would only join the sequel if the film didn't wholly rely on CGI. Fans of Cruise know that he consistently performs his own stunts, no matter how difficult they are. He previously learned how to pilot a helicopter for "Mission: Impossible – Fallout." 

Considering Cruise's commitment to his craft, one might assume that he would also perform all of his own flying sunts in "Top Gun: Maverick." However, that's not entirely accurate. When it came time to have Cruise fly the premier F-18 jet, the United States Navy wouldn't allow the star near the plane, despite his experience as a pilot. "The Navy wouldn't let [Tom] fly an F-18, but he flies a P-51 in the movie, and he flies helicopters," Bruckheimer said (via Military.com). "He can do just about anything in an airplane."

Because Cruise wasn't allowed to pilot the legendary plane, the filmmakers opted for a bit of camera trickery when it came to scenes involving the $70 million Super Hornet (via Aerocorner). To make the best of the situation, the crew installed six IMAX cameras inside the cockpits of F-18s to film specially trained pilots (via Could You Survive the Movies).

While it may be disappointing that Cruise won't actually be piloting one of the Navy's most notable planes, he'll be seen flying a variety of other aircraft in the upcoming "Top Gun" sequel (via Film Inside). "Top Gun: Maverick" is set to soar into theaters on May 27.