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Here's What Really Happened To Slider After The Original Top Gun

The need for speed was strong in the summer of 1986 when the original "Top Gun" flew into theaters. The adrenaline rush disguised as a movie starred Tom Cruise as cocky Navy fighter pilot Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, and he will reprise this role when the long-awaited sequel "Top Gun Maverick" drops on May 27, 2022. The original romp shot down $357 million in worldwide ticket sales (per Box Office Mojo), and lured a whole generation into signing up for the military. Seriously, Uncle Sam capitalized on the recruitment opportunity like a champ (so said the Los Angeles Times), because everyone came out of the theater thinking the real thing would be just like the movie. Which, of course, it totally is. If that happened with "Star Wars," millions of fanboys would have joined the rebellion. (Space Force has entered the chat ... )

But it wasn't just the Maverick show back in the '80s. Okay, it was. Still, there were other notable characters who played pivotal roles in making "Top Gun" such a huge success. Among them is Ron "Slider" Kerner, played gamely by Rick Rossovich ("The Terminator"). Slider is the RIO (Radar Intercept Officer, aka the guy in the backseat of the jet who sort of helps out) of Maverick's frenemy Tom "Iceman" Kazansky (Val Kilmer). He is the counterpart to Nick "Goose" Bradshaw (Anthony Edwards) — and we all know what happens to poor Goose.

Slider is a thrill-seeking flyboy junkie just like the rest of them, and, like Iceman, he likes to give Maverick a hard time. But fans of the fun-loving sidekick will likely be surprised to learn the character's fate after the events of the first film.

Slider slid into a 747

According to a Screen Rant account from Slider himself, actor Rick Rossovich, the character went on to have a lengthy aviation career as an airline pilot. Said Rossovich, "He became a commercial pilot, and he was flying LAX to Heathrow on a 747 for most of the time. Then he went to the Dreamliners." Okay. 

While this is a perfectly plausible path for a former Navy pilot, it nevertheless seems a bit tame for the likes of a Top Gun daredevil who isn't happy unless he's going Mach 2 with his hair on fire. Wasn't Slider among the best of the best? Didn't he and Iceman actually win the Top Gun trophy meant to crown them the literal best of the best? Even though Maverick would totally have won if, you know, he wasn't so sad.

So wild man Slider spent the rest of his life telling passengers when to look out the window to see the Grand Canyon, and what weather to expect upon arrival in London? Cool. That's why we love the movies, right? Maybe he also told dad jokes as people stepped off the plane, and got a colonoscopy when he turned 50. In fairness, this may just be Rossovich's take on what became of the hotshot pilot. We won't know for sure unless it comes up in "Top Gun Maverick." Or even better, if Slider himself shows up — while we know Val Kilmer returns, a Rossovich cameo is up in the air.

In the meantime, please stow your tray tables and return your seats to the upright position. It's what Slider would have wanted.