Top Gun: Maverick became one of the biggest hits of last year. The Tom Cruise starring blockbuster took the world by storm as everyone just flocked to the theatres to watch Cruise’s Maverick fly fighter jets and perform crazy stunts in the air all on his own. The movie became the “savior of cinema” in the words of cinematic maestro Steven Spielberg. But what many forgot was that this movie was a sequel to Tony Scott’s Top Gun.
It could be blamed on the fact that the first film came out in 1986 when half of the audience that was passionate about Cruise’s sequel wasn’t even born yet. But the movie was a sequel and the original movie was just as thrilling and it also included Cruise flying F-14s and performing crazy stunts. But the movie also included a tragic plot, and turns out the tragedy of Top Gun wasn’t limited to the plot.
1986’s Top Gun lost a Stuntman on the Set
The plot of the 1986 movie had a tragic undertone to it. In the movie, Tom Cruise‘s heroic antics fail to protect his wingman, Goose, played by Anthony Edwards. The young pilot dies in a crash and its outcome is still a major plot point of the 2022 movie. The struggle that Maverick has in trying to connect with Rooster, played by Miles Teller, as he blames him for his father’s tragic death is a highlight of the emotional core of the film.
But it turns out that the tragedy in the 1986 movie wasn’t limited to the plot of the film. The movie’s set saw a similar tragedy. While filming, a pilot named Art Scholl met his tragic demise. The movie was even dedicated to him. Scholl was an aerobatic pilot who used to perform plane-related stunts in many movies and TV shows. But his journey was cut short while filming Top Gun as his Pitts S-2 camera plane faced some trouble and it crashed into the Pacific Ocean with Scholl still aboard. He was just 54 at the time of the tragedy.
According to a recording recovered and shared by Movie Logic’s YouTube Channel, his last words were – “I have a problem… I have a real problem.”
The real cause of the crash was never found and it was also not revealed whether they managed to recover the remains of the artist. But his memory still lives on in his work and with Top Gun.
Wife of Art Scholl shared a heartfelt message before Top Gun 2‘s release
After the news of a Top Gun sequel in the making took over the internet, the wife of the pilot who lost his life on the set of the original movie came forward to share her side of the tragedy. In an interview with Daily Mail, she shared,
“Art was a great pilot and a great showman. But he was very calculating and prepared constantly. He was a triple type A personality. He had energy that wouldn’t end and he was very fun to be with – but he was very focused. He took his work very seriously. He planned carefully – he wouldn’t go out and break rules or anything. So on Top Gun I just don’t know what happened.”
Judy, who is also a pilot, further continued to share how the tragedy impacted her life and the life of the two sons she shared with Shcoll,
“It was a massive shock to me. A lot of people in the industry and in aviation in general were surprised. He was relatively young to die. Fortunately he jammed a whole bunch of stuff into his life with air shows and competitions and movies and teaching but his death was a shock.”
Despite the tragic loss, she wasn’t upset with production and rather claimed that she would go watch the sequel when it came out and also added that her husband would have loved to watch it too if he were still among us. The tragic death of the stuntman, though seemed forgotten, came back to us with the sequel, and his work in the film industry would forever live on with us.
Top Gun: Maverick became the second highest-grossing movie of 2022 with $1.4 billion at the box office and is now streaming on Paramount+.