Favorite Aerial Stunts From Top Gun


The Best Aerobatic Moves from the Original Top Gun film

Although Top Gun was released more than three decades ago, the adrenaline-pumping aerial stunts performed in the film are still downright incredible. Maverick, played by actor Tom Cruise, takes his pilot skills to the limit with unforgettable scenes in the sky.

Here’s a look at some of our favorite aerial stunts from Top Gun and what it takes to accomplish these impossible maneuvers.

1. Inverted Dive With the MiG-28

The famous scene of the inverted cockpit-to-cockpit move between Maverick’s plane and the enemy’s MiG-28 aircraft is iconic. Because Maverick is ordered not to engage, he decides to “have a little fun.”

Maverick proceeds to invert his plane and fly directly over the other aircraft, allowing the pilot to look up into Maverick’s cockpit. He then hilariously “flips him the bird” as Goose takes a Polaroid picture of the pilot. If that’s not a classic aerial stunt, we don’t know what is!

However, it’s not entirely realistic to think a maneuver like this could work. Although it can be done, the aircraft would have to be
further apart¹ due to the height of each jet’s tail fin. Also, these jets were not designed to fly inverted for more than a few seconds before the engine would start to stall.

2. Buzzing the Tower

Another Top Gun scene that is one for the books is Maverick’s “buzzing the tower” maneuver. What does this mean? Buzzing the tower is basically a low fly-by pass very close to the control tower at high speeds. The force created by the jet’s engine and the speed of the aircraft causes the control tower (and everyone in it) to experience an intense boom that shakes the foundation.

Against Goose’s advice, Maverick goes for it and gets them in a lot of trouble for it. However, a move like that in real life would’ve meant immediate expulsion from the Top Gun program or worse.

3. Maverick vs. Viper

Although Maverick chooses to abandon his role as Hollywood’s wingman and chase after Viper on his own (not cool), we still love this scene for all the tight spins, high speeds, and overall aerobatic prowess! When all is said and done, Viper teaches Maverick a powerful lesson in teamwork and humility as he leads him directly to Jester, who takes him out.

4. Jet Wash RecoveryEmpty heading

After the tragic results of getting caught in Iceman’s jet wash earlier in the film, we know how bad it can get. Maverick once again finds himself in the same situation, but this time with a MiG-28 and Merlin as his RIO.

The F-14 Tomcat jet begins to spin and lose control, and slight audience panic ensues. However, Maverick is able to stay calm and regain control of the aircraft—to which Merlin exclaims, “Good recovery, Mav!” Agreed, Merlin. Agreed.

Fun fact: Did you know Merlin was played by Tim Robbins? Don’t blink or you might miss him!

5. Final Dogfight Scene

In the final dogfighting scene of Top Gun, Maverick and Iceman find themselves in a sticky situation with the MiG-28s close on their tails. After Hollywood and Wolfman go down, we’re sitting on the edge of our seats to see if these former rivals can work together to pull it off. Spoiler alert: They do.

With some epic aerial stunts and skilled evasive maneuvers, the two are able to engage the enemy and take back the skies. Queue the cheering on the aircraft carrier deck!

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Whether you’re craving spins, rolls, dives, or dogfighting, we’ve got you covered. And if you book your flight at our

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¹Schneider, J. (2 November 2020).
Fighter Jet Pilot Explains What Top Gun Got Wrong in Famous Scene. PetaPixel. Retrieved 20 April 2022.

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