Tony Scott Personally Paid 25K USD To Keep Aircraft Carrier On Course And Shoot The F-14s Backlit In Top Gun’s Opening Scene

Tony Scott
A screenshot from the opening scene of Top Gun. (Image credit: Paramount)

A little known detail about director Tony Scott and the filming of the iconic Top Gun movie.

One of the most interesting things about Tony Scott and Top Gun was unveiled by the film director in an interview included in the Special Edition DVD issued for the movie’s 25th anniversary.

During the filming, Tony Scott and his crew spent some days onboard USS Enterprise to shoot aircraft as they landed and took off from the aircraft carrier. Since the U.S. Navy’s flattop was on an operational cruise, the crew had to film normal flight ops. However, Tony Scott wanted to shoot flight deck activities with planes backlit from the sun. So, when the ship changed course with a consequent change of light, Scott asked it the commanding officer could keep on the previous course and speed for a little longer.

However, he was answered by the commander that it would cost 25,000 USD to turn the ship, so he wrote the aircraft carrier captain a check so that the ship could be turned on the previous route for five more minutes thus giving him the possibility to shoot under the desired lighting conditions a bit longer.

The footage was used during the movie’s stunning opening scene, that remains one of the most iconic of the film.

Although I’m not sure whether that check was eventually collected, I think this story shows how much Tony Scott cared about the success of Top Gun.

Tony Scott, committed suicide by jumping from a Los Angeles county bridge on Aug. 19, 2012.

Although he directed and produced many successful movies, his most famous hit is Top Gun.

As BBC News Producer Johnny Hallam tweeted: “I hope some crazy pilot buzzes the #Miramar tower today in memory of Tony Scott and Top Gun #AvGeek”

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.