There’s no doubt that the original Top Gun movie holds a special place in the history of American cinema, being a monument to 1980s cheese and Hollywood fantasy. A cultural relic and homoerotic thriller, the original movie starred Tom Cruise as a rebellious young pilot named Maverick whose place in the United States Air Force’s elite fighter squadron is called into question.
As the film world awaits the exciting release of the film’s sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, the cast and crew of the movie have been gushing over the technical feats that they achieved during the production of the film. Capturing as much footage as all three of the Lord of the Rings movies combined, Cruise told Empire, “Out of a 12- or 14-hour day, you might get 30 seconds of good footage…It was so hard-earned. It just took a very long time to get it all. Months and months of aerial shooting…I think it was 800 hours of footage”.
Whilst most of the new movie’s most spectacular moments were captured in the cockpits of the fighter jets, the crew also travelled to some remarkable locations to make the film about the United States Air Force as authentic as possible.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, for such a patriotic Hollywood blockbuster, all of the Paramount movies was shot within the boundaries of the USA. Take a look at just where these locations were, below.
Exploring the Top Gun: Maverick filming locations
Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada
Aside from the claustrophobic action shots from within the aircraft themselves, the majority of the aerial footage was filmed at the US Naval Air Station Fallon in Nevada. Instead of using CGI to capture the remarkable manoeuvres of the fighter jets, Tom Cruise demanded realism, with much of the action captured using ground-mounted cameras that tracked the high-flying displays with remarkable accuracy.
This also follows in the footsteps of the original film that was also filmed at the air station, with Paramount favouring the spot thanks to its unique vast size. Using cameras on the ground, in the sky and on the bottom of the aircraft themselves, the crew did all they could to make the experience as immersive as possible, tracking the movement of the jets at 400 mph plus.
Boasting a runway that spans 14,000-foot, the Naval Air Station Fallon hosts the longest in the Navy, making it the perfect location to capture high-speed pursuits, daring stunts and impressive landings.
Beginning as a WWII Army Air Corps airstrip in the early 1940s, Fallon has evolved into a modern training facility known to hold some of the finest air warfare training opportunities in the world.
Naval Air Station, Lemoore
The sequel to the iconic 1980s movie also returned to the Naval Air Station in Lemoore, California, mostly to use the spectacular location for scenes involving the use of a military base.
When Top Gun: Maverick is focusing on the story of its central cast, it needs a bit of downtime in order to properly explore its characters in detail. This is where the Naval Air Station came in, with the interior of the facilities being used for scenes involving group meetings, formal dressing-downs and bust-ups from such personalities as Miles Teller’s Bradley Bradshaw and Monica Barbaro’s Natasha Trace.
As well as such interior scenes, filming in Lemoore also included the use of the aircraft carrier. In addition, this California-based location was also used to capture aerial combat scenes with Navy pilots flying the new F-35 Strike Fighter.
Lake Tahoe, Sierra Nevada Mountains
Used in countless Hollywood movies throughout the decades, the stunning views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains have hosted epic action scenes as well as daring tales of survival. In Top Gun: Maverick, Lake Tahoe is the centre of the film’s exciting climax, becoming the location of a frenetic chase sequence that utilises the area’s endless forests and beautiful azure lake.
Filming in winter, Cruise and the rest of the crew used Lake Tahoe and the surrounding Sierra Nevada Mountains to film a pivotal action scene in the snow. Although a relatively small state park, the unique makeup of the location made it the perfect, compact place to capture the intricate and agile movements of a fighter jet at top speed.