Tom Cruise as CAPT Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, experienced U.S. Navy test pilot-turned-instructor
NAS North Island near San Diego, Fall 2019
Film: Top Gun: Maverick
Release Date: May 27, 2022
Director: Joseph Kosinski
Costume Designer: Marlene Stewart
It’s been a minute, huh Mav?
To commemorate August 19 being National Aviation Day, today’s post celebrates one of the most famous fictional naval aviators in movie history.
Thirty-six years to the month after its predecessor flew into theaters, Top Gun: Maverick returned Tom Cruise to the flight deck as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, a virtuoso Naval Aviator who still lives up to his nickname more than three decades since he was a swaggering but skilled lieutenant in the U.S. Navy’s prestigious “Top Gun” training program.
“Captain? Still?” he’s asked, prompting Maverick to clarify that he’s “a highly decorated Captain.” His insubordination repeatedly preventing promotion to flag officer like his pal and one-time rival Tom “Iceman” Kazansky (Val Kilmer), CAPT Pete Mitchell is still “the fastest man alive”, now a Navy test pilot living in a hangar in the Mojave Desert, fighting the good fight for practical flight vs. the unmanned preferences of bureaucrats like RADM Chester Cain (Ed Harris), aka “The Drone Ranger”.
Despite Maverick falling out of favor among Navy brass, Iceman still looks out for his pal and—when Maverick is in danger of being grounded—has the distinguished aviator recalled to Top Gun at NAS North Island, where the stern, by-the-book commander VADM Beau “Cyclone” Simpson (Jon Hamm) briefs him on a dangerous mission, tasked to destroy an unsanctioned underground uranium enrichment plant… clarifying “we don’t want you to fly it, we want you to teach it.”
While at “Fightertown U.S.A.”, Maverick reconnects with former fling Penny Benjamin (Jennifer Connelly), who now runs The Hard Deck, a local bar frequented by fliers like the recent graduates that Maverick will be training for the mission. Among these aviators—played by a cast of rising stars like Monica Barbaro, Manny Jacinto, and Glen Powell—is Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), son of Maverick’s late friend and RIO Goose, who resents Mav for having blocked his Naval Academy application. Over the course of the accelerated training, a mutual respect grows between the confident young lieutenants and the experienced veteran. Continue reading
Tom Cruise as LT Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, hotshot United States Naval Aviator
NAS Miramar near San Diego, Summer 1985
Film: Top Gun
Release Date: May 16, 1986
Director: Tony Scott
Costume Design: Wingate Jones, John Napolitano, Bobbie Read, and James W. Tyson
On March 3, 1969 the United States Navy established an elite school for the top one percent of its pilots. Its purpose was to teach the lost art of aerial combat and to insure[sic] that the handful of men who graduated were the best fighter pilots in the world.
Today, the Navy calls it Fighter Weapons School. The flyers call it: TOP GUN.
In 1922, the same year that the U.S. Navy commissioned its first aircraft carrier, Navy Day was established to commemorate the birthday of Theodore Roosevelt, whose vast accomplishments included serving as Assistant Secretary of the Navy before he ascended to the presidency. On Navy Day, it’s hard to think of a movie more associated with the United States’ naval warfare branch than Top Gun, which celebrated the talents and competition among U.S. Naval Aviators.