SAN DIEGO — Top Gun: Maverick hits theatres on Friday, May 27 and the actors of the star studded cast were put in real fighter jets, to give the audience a feel and a view you've never had in a movie before.
CBS 8's Carlo Cecchetto got the chance to talk to a fighter pilot at NAS North Island about the movie and about his unique job and responsibility to the Navy fleet.
The actors in Top Gun: Maverick had to train like pilots to make the action real. Commander Peter Jaglom, call sign “Bear”, says the training is similar to what fighter pilots like himself, have to go through.
Jaglom flies the Super Hornet, the jet featured in Maverick and has since 2019. He says it’s a versatile aircraft that is agile enough for a dogfight but also equipped to strike fixed targets on the ground or water.
One of the toughest tasks in aviation is landing on an aircraft carrier, a moving target. “Bear” says it’s very stressful at first and he can remember the adrenaline from the first few “traps” as they’re known.
Aircraft landings can go wrong. A recent F-35 incident on the San Diego-based USS Carl Vinson injured a pilot and several crewmembers and damaged an FA-18 on the ship.
That Super Hornet was sent to Fleet Readiness Center Southwest on NAS North Island for repair.
Commander Jaglom’s job is to test fly the aircraft that are repaired at the facility, sometimes aircraft that have that have been pieced together from several damaged jets.
These are aircraft with damage or repairs too extensive to be done by mechanics on ships.
In this hangar, about 300 civilian mechanics repair more than 20 FA-18s a year.
Jaglom takes them out for test flights before they can be sent back into action and, sometimes, there are problems, admitted Jaglom,
“I have experienced malfunctions here…flying aircraft fresh off, you know, out of their maintenance period. But like, thankfully, you know, knock on wood so far, nothing, nothing major. And we've always been able to…I just come back, land here in North Island and then correct it. Try again the next day.”
The day we visited; “Bear” rolled out an FA-18 that had been cut open to replace a fuel cell. He is the only FA-18 pilot assigned to the depot and admits that “Maverick” coming out is making him a little nostalgic for carrier life.
“It's a little bit bittersweet for me personally just because… what I do is very different from what guys who are going out on aircraft carriers or guys at Top Gun are doing. And so, I've always had a little bit of nostalgia and missed out a little bit. And so, this just kind of amplifies that feeling because it is so dramatized and made glamorous.”
While Commander Jaglom’s job may not be as glamorous, he’s still a fighter pilot, ready to go, and that what seems like extreme conditions portrayed in the movie, are pretty standard for the men and women who pilot the FA-18s. Being able to fly extreme maneuvers is just part of the job.
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