Latest Aircraft Is Single Seat F/A-18E Super Hornet.
Instagram user who wishes to remain anonymous managed to get a perfect photo of a second, previously unseen, single-seat U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet painted in the special black, light blue and gray color scheme used in filming for the upcoming Hollywood sequel Top Gun: Maverick to be released on June 26, 2020.
The photo was shot at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, Virginia on the U.S. east coast on Tuesday, May 14, 2019. This aircraft was photographed following reports two weeks earlier of a sonic boom in the area. While an interesting coincidence, there is no known connection between the two events. The single-seat Top Gun: Maverick F/A-18E Super Hornet was parked with aircraft from the U.S. Navy’s Strike Fighter Squadron 106 (VFA-106), the “Gladiators”.
This new single-seat F/A-18E, seen in addition to the two-seat F/A-18F previously photographed and featured in Hollywood entertainment media and on TheAviationist.com, also has three “kill” markings (the silhouettes seem to be those of three F-5s aka MiG-28s….) on it and wears the pilot name, “Capt. Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell” under the canopy. As you know, Capt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell is the character played by Tom Cruise in both the original 1986 Top Gun and reappearing in the upcoming sequel, Top Gun: Maverick.
Interestingly, both the two seat “F” model and the “E” model single-seater have the same nose number painted on them, number “00”. Normally, no two aircraft of the same type wear the same nose number. This suggests the two aircraft are “doubling” for one another during filming of some of the flying sequences.
We previously reported on the two-seat F/A-18F aircraft being fitted with a set of special production quality in-cockpit cinematic video cameras as it flew through a popular western low-level flying area. It is possible that aircraft was used to film the anticipated low-level and in-cockpit sequences while the single seat F/A-18E seen today is being filmed off the east coast of the U.S. for some of the aerial sequences potentially involving other aircraft.
In previous weeks, sources who asked to remain anonymous told TheAviationist.com they had seen aircraft participating in the film but were asked not to photograph them due to studio restrictions on outside media. At least one drop tank painted to match the two special livery Top Gun Super Hornets was also seen.
In a curious and, who knows… possibly related story, somebody near where the new F/A-18E was photographed must have felt, “The need, for speed!” two weeks ago. This was, interestingly, around the same time people first started tipping us off about Capt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell’s new single-seat Top Gun: Maverick F/A-18E Super Hornet showing up at NAS Oceana.
Reporters Rachel Cardin and Nick Boykin of local news station WTKR, the CBS News affiliate in Norfolk, Virginia near NAS Oceana reported on the story of a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet of an unspecified variant creating a sonic boom in the area that was reported by many local residents. The sonic boom was reported on Monday night, April 29 at 6:30 PM local time. In a subsequent report updated on May 1, 2019, the U.S. Navy confirmed from NAS Oceana that, “Based on analysis of data by fleet area control, surveillance facility and strike fighter wing Atlantic, we can conclusively state the loud noise heard across Hampton Roads around 6:30 p.m. Monday was a sonic boom generated by a U.S. F/A-18 Super Hornet from Oceana.” No other information has been released about the incident or if it is specifically related to any of the Top Gun: Maverick aircraft.
Naval Air Station Oceana is also home to Fighter Squadron Composite 12 (VFC-12), the “Fighting Omars”. The Fighting Omars fly specially painted F/A-18Cs of several variants with opposing forces markings to simulate threat aircraft for realistic training scenarios.