TOPGUN2. “test pilot blues”


Maverick is becoming an F-35 test pilot.

It’s true.

Tom Burbage, the Lockheed Martin F-35 programme manager, showed up at a National Aeronautics Association luncheon today and dropped a bombshell of a Hollywood scoop. Sure, there was talk about schedules and budgets, partners and politics, software blocks and carrier hooks. But we’ll get to that later.

The big news from Burbage’s speech involves Top Gun 2, the long-not-quite-awaited-but-certainly-delayed sequel of the 1986 fighter jock classic.

Tom Cruise, of course, confirmed back in December that the sequel is coming, but nobody — not even IMDB (we checked) — knows the full story.

But Burbage does. Lockheed’s Fort Worth, Texas, factory and flight test center will host production crew in the “next month or so” to start filming, Burbage told the NAA luncheon crowd.

Burbage also confirmed that Cruise will not just make a cameo; he will be the star, and he is playing the role of a Lockheed F-35 test pilot!

Potential plot twists fill our heads.

There will be no need to resurrect Goose, as the F-35 is a single-seater. With the Libyan air force in smouldering ruins, there will also be no need to stage another improbable yet inspiring combat scenario. Indeed, as a test pilot, it’s not clear how the movie’s writers can weave Maverick into a combat situation.

Maybe we’ve been covering the industry too long, but our perfect plot for Top Gun 2 has no combat sequences at all. Instead, it goes like this:

Maverick is a test pilot struggling to keep the flight test programme on schedule, even though his better judgment is sometimes compromised by a lifelong, paralyzing fear of vertical landings. Maverick almost throws in the towel after his favourite knee board/test card holder is destroyed in an unfortunate lift fan malfunction. Meanwhile, the programme’s enemies, led by the snearing Bill “Iceman” Sweetman and Karlo “Slider” Kopp, take advantage of Maverick’s absence to nearly bury the programme in a wave of seemingly overwhelming blog attacks. That’s when Maverick’s love interest — a Texas congresswoman strategically placed on the AirLand subcommittee —  intervenes. She gives Maverick her father’s last knee board (er, her father was also a test pilot … just go with it) and literally pushes him back into the cockpit. Maverick straps on the knee board, takes the Block 3 software build out for a spin, hits every test point and — for the finale — lands vertically right on top of Aviation Week’s building in downtown Washington DC. And that’s when Kenny Loggins starts singing.

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