The honorificence was awarded for significantly promoting and supporting Naval Aviation with the Top Gun films.
Tom Cruise and Jerry Bruckheimer, respectively leading actor and producer of the Top Gun films, were awarded the title of U.S. Navy Honorary Naval Aviators by the Commander of Naval Air Forces, Vice Adm. DeWolfe Miller III, during a ceremony held at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles on September 24, 2020.
The award ceremony happened in occasion of a screening of the upcoming Top Gun: Maverick that was to be released this year on June 24 but was delayed until July 2, 2021 because of the worldwide theater closures in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Cruise was not physically present at the ceremony but participated via video conferencing as he’s currently filming the new chapter of the Mission Impossible franchise Italy.
Bruckheimer and Cruise, 35th and 36th Honorary Naval Aviators respectively, are authorized to wear the “wings of gold” of a U.S. naval aviator and are entitled to all honors, courtesies and privileges afforded to Naval Aviators, according to the Navy’s press release.
The citation for the award stated “In the history of motion pictures, there is not a more iconic aviation movie than the 1986 Paramount Pictures film Top Gun. Its characters, dialogue and imagery are ingrained in the minds of an entire generation of Americans. The movie captured the hearts of millions, making a profound positive impact on recruiting for Naval Aviation,” and “significantly promoted and supported Naval Aviation and put aircraft carriers and naval aircraft into popular culture.”
The citation went on to say that Cruise and Bruckheimer made great efforts to “ensure the Top Gun franchise is as authentic as possible, staying true to the unparalleled tactical excellence of the Navy Fighter Weapons School, the ethos of Naval Aviation, and the fighting spirit of the men and women of the world’s greatest Navy.”
In Top Gun: Maverick Cruise is reprising the iconic role of Navy pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell as a Captain some 30 years after the events of the first film. The original Top Gun released in 1986, named after the U.S. Navy’s Fighter Weapons School known as “TOPGUN” and based at Naval Air Station Fallon (Nevada) influenced an entire generation of Naval Aviators. Bruckheimer produced both films, with Cruise joining the second film also as a producer.
As the original Top Gun, the upcoming sequel features real flying footage, with scenes aboard aircraft carrier as Super Hornets are prepared for catapult launch, inside the cockpit of Super Hornets and Tom Cruise’s P-51 Mustang. The film features also more CGI than expected, namely the stealthy experimental hypersonic aircraft and the dogfights between Super Hornets.