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Recreating Top Gun: Was the Canopy to Canopy Photo Possible?

If you're a fan of Top Gun, then you probably remember the scene where Goose and Maverick go inverted over a Russian Mig, and proceed to snap a Polaroid, canopy to canopy. The thing is, was that shot 1) even possible and 2) would it have turned out? Photographer Blair Bunting, the Patriots Jet Team based out of Byron, California, as well as Jaron Schneider and Toby Harriman (both of Planet Unicorn Productions) decided to put the myth to the test... and actually recreated it. ( More...

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James Simms 10
Charlie: Eh, lieutenant, what were you doing there?
Goose: Communicating.
Maverick: Communicating. Keeping up foreign relations. You know, giving him the bird!
Goose: [Charlie looks puzzled, so Goose clarifies] You know, the finger
Charlie: Yes, I know the finger, Goose.
Goose: I-I'm sorry, I hate it when it does that, I'm sorry. Excuse me.
ddesfosse 1
Yeah, so nice pic, but where's the bird?!?
ilefty 5
I'm sure that if it was possible the Blue Angels would be doing it at air shows and selling the pictures.
Cade foster 5
Brings back memories when I was a teenager and had lunch with a former Navy Capt, forgot his name now but he was a technical advisor on Top Gun As I remember he got part of a confirmed kill in Vietnam in F4's. Mutual family friend set up the lunch for me. The 1st question I asked him was about the canopy to canopy scene in the movie. And i can remember him just looking at me with a of course not look on his face. He also had a bit part in the movie i think as Kelly M's boss.
Jesse Carroll 5
Actually with Holywood redoing all of the classic's, I think they should do a new version of Top Gun with Goose's son being instructed by Maverick! I want credits for this one if they do. .
Boy comes out of Iraq all screwed up and Macerick puts him back together. Maybe even have Maverick go into a flat spin and hit the cockpit ejecting . Just saying!
Ruger9X19 1
Do a tie in and make the kid from Iron Eagle the Iceman character.
There is a Top Gun 2 in the works...
SootBox 4
Not feasible, at the distance depicted in the movie anyway. The Tomcat tail would have protruded downward into the bottom plane.
Or would the bottom plane protrude into the top plane? A co-worker of mine was an F14 RIO (and in the movie)...that was seriously one of the first questions I asked him when we met a number of years ago...his answer was oddly far more complicated. It was like "No...because......and finally......the tails would hit...."
but.. the "mig" was a single vertical tail, and the F14 was a twin tail. surely he could have "straddled him!!! and yeah, like ya Know!

although i am curious as to how they actually filmed that shot. was it just a "set"? it couldn't have been CGI.
At that time CGI? Probably not...easily done on a Hollywood set however.
Torsten Hoff 2
I'm sure the angle of attack to generate sufficient lift would have prevented it.
Ruger9X19 6
That's classified.
blueashflyer 3
Negative, Ghost Rider
the pattern is full
lynx318 3
No Mav, No, this is not a good idea!
Tim Bynum 3
Plus, the "MiG" in the movie was actually an F-5, so the re-creation is lacking in lots of originality. No MiGs were used or harmed in the filming of the movie! :-)
Otniel Ocampo 2
I could not see the video due to crappy internet connectivity! But from the thumbnail it looks like there is no MIG and also no F14. The whole premise of the shot was (as far as I understood) that the F14 fuel was gravity feed so flying inverted would starve the engine of fuel and cause a flame out!!! Not the taking of the picture!!! Just a thought!!! I'm sure some one will correct me I'd I'm wrong on the fuel system issue!!
John Plegge 2
You're wrong on the fuel system issue.
Otniel Ocampo 2
I knew some one would pointe in the right direction!! Thanks for the clarification!!!
It doesn't look like they were pulling a 4g negative dive in this recreation though...
James Irwin 3
An interesting experiment, but look at the zoom lens on the camera. I'm sure "Tom Cruises" RO didn't have gear like that........
i don't think polaroids had them
lynx318 1
Correct, instant gratification camera, why would you want to zoom your family photos? Especially Auntie Bernice UGGGH!
lynx318 1
Maybe at a greater distance, but the turbulence between them would make a close inversion difficult.
skylab72 1
Ever watched the Blue Angles?
They do it by optical illusion - slight offset laterally. Smoke and/or mirrors. =}
WhiteKnight77 1
Yes, there is offest, but as seen by both the Thunderbirds and Blue Angles, it is possible to fly in close proximity, without major issues from turbulence, especially in the diamond formation. There is buffeting, but the pilots can handle that and have been since flight controls were cable controlled. Even the "canopy to canopy" passes they make are not that far apart (watch a show from the end of a runway and you get to see those smoke and mirrors, it's awesome).
craig mccleaf 1
not a recreation.
1) no Polaroid
2) no F-14
3) no "mig28" (although it was probably an F5E used to look like a "mig")
4) more than 1.5m separation.
HEY!!!! HEY!!!!! you just HAVE to point out that it was not a mig28 and DESTROY one of my childhood fantasies? JERK!!! ;-)

had i kept it at just the mig, someone would yell at me that it was an F5E....

no love :-(
An F-5E painted black. That makes it a MiG... =} Somewhere in the Dungeon of Slides I have photos of the F-5 and one of the F-14s.
Jim Gardner 1
I think there was an A-4 in the bogie mix too. Been a long time since I saw the movie.
John Taylor 1
I think the A-4 was the plane used by the Sqdn CC??
Jesse Carroll 1
Charlie, you want to ride my motorcycle? Again!
Peter Steitz 1
Gotta be one of my favorite movies except for the dogfights. They are hard to recreate. An F-14 doesn't go out of control when hit by jet blast or wake turbulence. That's Hollywood. About the canopy to canopy--again Hollywood. They are way too close. The Angels or Thunderbirds don't even do this and they practice everyday. What I liked most was the military life outside of flying. Cruise is really cool, arrogant, confident and cocky. I flew Air Force fighters and always wanted to buzz the tower and spill some coffee. Of course, I love the ending---"You can be my wingman anytime". Cruise and Kilmer were always friends but very competitive.
skylab72 1
Yeah, nice shot for a Canon 1DX with a Sigma zoom lens on a hard mount, but I agree with James Irwin below, a modern cell phone would have a better chance of getting something recognizable than a Color Polaroid. Anyway the narrative included a "4G dive" with no clue whether that was Pos or Neg. So I still think it is very unlikely but a fun "story point".
When I worked at Northrop El Segundo I saw the RFQ for an inverted fuel pickup for Blue Angel early Hornet F/A-18's. This increased the inverted time to a couple of minutes only. Our engineers designed and Production Development built the pickup assy. The center/aft main fuselage is designed and built by Northrop-El Segundo.
I doubt that a production F-14 had much inverted fuel pickup time either.
John watson 1
Still the skill needed is what makes it
John Taylor 1
Ridiculous! Canopy to canopy w/4 neg G? No way in hell!
Lets just say that Hollywood takes a lot of cinematic license and leave it there.
And if you don't know the difference between an F-5 and a Russian Mig, oh well.
Good movie and fun to watch, OK?


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