“Top Gun: Maverick” Special Painted F/A-18E Goes to Blue Angels for Super Hornet Transition

That's likely the last we'll see in real life of 'Maverick's' new Super Hornet. We have to wonder if the Navy may have done well to keep the aircraft in this paint scheme and send it on a public affairs tour of airshows around the U.S. for a year. (Photos: courtesy of skidvoodoo via Instagram)

One of the F/A-18 Super Hornets Used in “Top Gun: Maverick” Just Flew to Jacksonville, Florida for Repainting in Blue Angels Livery for 2021.

Photos and video of the Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornet, no. 165667, flying out of Naval Air Station North Island on Coronado Island, California off San Diego that was used in the filming of the upcoming “Top Gun: Maverick” have surfaced on social media.

Ace “Top Gun” expert skidvoodoo on Instagram got the photos and video of the specially painted, single seat F/A-18E Super Hornet from another contributor and posted them on his excellent Instagram (follow @skidvoodoo on Instagram for lots of great “Top Gun” content). The aircraft is one of two specially painted F/A-18 Super Hornets used in the filming of the upcoming sequel to the original 1986 “Top Gun”, “Top Gun: Maverick” to be released on June 26, 2020.


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Got some cool pics today of Maverick’s Hornet. This particular bird will be transitioning into one of the Blue Angels very soon. The Blues are moving away from the Legacy ships and into Super Hornets for the 2021 season. The transition to being a Blue Angel bird is extensive, these older airframes will be re-kitted for use to handle the stresses of the shows and significantly improve reliability and efficiency as the squadron travels throughout the country. About a year ago the first two converted Super Hornets were delivered to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23 (VX-23) to incorporate them through the paces of the Blue Angel routine. Of the 18 Hornets being transitioned to be a Blue Angel, this one will have special significance. It’s unknown where it will be utilized at the moment but I’m sure The Blues will make its film history known at future airshows. These pics were taken and shared with us today by @torresmick . Check out his story for some great video of it on the tarmac getting ready for a confidence flight after an engine change. Thanks for the heads up @torresmick, always appreciated . ▶️Swipe for Pics▶️ . . #topgun #topgun2 #topgunmaverick #maverick #tomcruise #needforspeed #film #behindthescenes #movie #aviation #navy #flying #80s #avgeek #pilot #retro #topgunmovie #hollywood #filmmaking #flynavy #jet #navy #hornet #f18 #superhornet #bestofthebest #blueangels #blueangelsairshow #blueangelsfans @usnavyblueangels

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The single-seat F/A-18E Super Hornet used in the flying sequences of “Top Gun: Maverick”, bureau number 165667, is specifically a Boeing F/A-18E-53-MC Lot 22 Super Hornet from the Low-Rate Initial Production run 2 (LRIP 2). This means this aircraft is one of the oldest Super Hornets in the fleet. It is the practice of the Blue Angels to adopt and refurbish high-flight time aircraft for use in their team to keep the newest aircraft in frontline service.

The aircraft was seen flying out of NAS North Island on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 when the video and photos were shot.

The photographer got a wave from the pilot before his departure from NAS North Island. (Photos: courtesy of skidvoodoo via Instagram)

The Blue Angels will perform the upcoming 2020 season in their existing F/A-18 Hornets before transitioning to the new, larger and more capable Super Hornets in winter of 2020/21 in preparation for the 2021 show season.

It’s significant that one of the aircraft used in the filming of the upcoming “Top Gun: Maverick” is going to the Blue Angels since publicity generated from the film’s highly anticipated upcoming release will be a massive boost for U.S. Navy public affairs.

While aviation fans around the world are counting the days until the release of “Top Gun: Maverick”, the film will be released into a much different media environment than its 1986 predecessor. Most of the cinematography techniques used by production team Jeffrey L. Kimball, Director of Cinematography and Director Tony Scott, are commonplace now. Aviation enthusiast audiences are accustomed to spectacular in-flight cinematography not only in feature films but across YouTube and social media. When the 1986 “Top Gun” was released, virtually no high-quality film images of modern jet air combat existed. Scott and Kimball invented much of the film technology and executed it with an unprecedented level of support from the U.S. military. The 1986 “Top Gun” was also the first truly major pro-military Hollywood feature film since the end of the Vietnam conflict. Now moving images of combat aircraft are commonplace. Because of this, Scott and Kimball along with the rest of the “Top Gun: Maverick” cast and crew have a much higher critical bar to clear than the original 1986 “Top Gun” did.

About Tom Demerly
Tom Demerly is a feature writer, journalist, photographer and editorialist who has written articles that are published around the world on TheAviationist.com, TACAIRNET.com, Outside magazine, Business Insider, We Are The Mighty, The Dearborn Press & Guide, National Interest, Russia’s government media outlet Sputnik, and many other publications. Demerly studied journalism at Henry Ford College in Dearborn, Michigan. Tom Demerly served in an intelligence gathering unit as a member of the U.S. Army and Michigan National Guard. His military experience includes being Honor Graduate from the U.S. Army Infantry School at Ft. Benning, Georgia (Cycle C-6-1) and as a Scout Observer in a reconnaissance unit, Company “F”, 425th INF (RANGER/AIRBORNE), Long Range Surveillance Unit (LRSU). Demerly is an experienced parachutist, holds advanced SCUBA certifications, has climbed the highest mountains on three continents and visited all seven continents and has flown several types of light aircraft.