Pilot dies flying the same plane as Tom Cruise in ‘Top Gun: Maverick’

By Alma Fabiani

Published Jun 7, 2022 at 11:49 AM

Reading time: 2 minutes

On Friday 3 June, at approximately 2.30pm, Lieutenant Richard Bullock crashed near Trona, a remote area of the Mojave desert in California. The US Navy pilot had been flying a F/A-18E Super Hornet, the same plane Tom Cruise’s character flies in Top Gun: Maverick, the 2022 sequel to the iconic 1986 movie.

It was first reported that no other civilians were harmed, although a new statement confirmed officials are still investigating the secured crash site. Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake Federal Firefighters and Naval Security Forces were confirmed to have responded to the crash.

Navy officials wrote: “U.S. Navy pilot Lt. Richard Bullock was killed when his F/A-18E Super Hornet crashed in the vicinity of Trona, Calif., at approximately 2:30 pm (PDT), June 3. Bullock was assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 113 based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., and was flying a routine training mission at the time before his aircraft [went] down in a remote, unpopulated area. No civilians were harmed as a result of this incident.”

The statement continued, “The incident is currently under investigation and the scene of the crash is secured by Navy and local authorities while recovery efforts are ongoing. The Navy mourns this tragic loss alongside the family, friends and shipmates of Lt. Bullock.”

The aircraft model Bullock had been flying is one manufactured by company Boeing, which states on its website, “The F/A-18 Block III Super Hornet is the newest highly capable, affordable and available tactical aircraft in US Navy inventory. The Super Hornet is the backbone of the US Navy carrier air wing now and for decades to come.”

Although Cruise himself wasn’t allowed to fly the aircraft—the scenes were filmed with the assistance of Navy pilots—the F/A-18E Super Hornet features is the primary multirole fighter jet depicted in Top Gun: Maverick, replacing the Grumman F-14 Tomcat, which was the primary fighter jet depicted in Top Gun and retired in 2006.

As reported by Mail Online, the crash is the third to have occurred in the past three years of Navy training exercises. In October 2021, a F/A-18F Navy Super Hornet crashed in Death Valley and in 2020, a pilot crashed a F/A-18E in China Lake, with both incidents leading to injuries. While neither of these accidents were fatal, a pilot was killed in 2019 when their Super Hornet also crashed in Death Valley National Park, injuring seven park visitors who were hit by plane debris.

According to Paramount Pictures, Top Gun: Maverick grossed $90 million in its second weekend in the US. That number, which is also higher than any debut weekend for Cruise’s Mission: Impossible franchise, is down a mere 29 per cent from its first weekend of $126.7 million.

Keep On Reading

By Abby Amoakuh

Where is Alexa Demie, the breakout star of Euphoria season one, and what is she doing now?

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Percy Hynes White speaks out after Netflix confirmed that he won’t return for Wednesday season 2

By Abby Amoakuh

Three young girls in Sierra Leone have died after female genital mutilation rituals despite calls for ban

By Charlie Sawyer

Zac Efron reveals gruelling body transformation for upcoming wrestling film The Iron Claw

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

What is the viral red nail theory and does it actually work?

By Abby Amoakuh

Reese Witherspoon reveals upcoming Legally Blonde prequel series

By Charlie Sawyer

Who is Pookie, the wife of Jeff Puckett, aka the most complimentary man on TikTok?

By Abby Amoakuh

Noah Schnapp faces renewed controversy after apology video and defence from Stranger Things co-star

By Charlie Sawyer

Swifties lose it after lucky fan puts iconic Eras Tour 22 hat on eBay for $20,000

By Abby Amoakuh

Europe still sterilises disabled women despite the practice being a human rights violation

By Abby Amoakuh

Tory Minister Chris Philp asks if Congo and Rwanda are different countries on live TV

By Charlie Sawyer

Deepfake videos of Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez used in elaborate Le Creuset online scam

By Charlie Sawyer

Gypsy Rose Blanchard says husband Ryan Anderson’s D is fire after trolls call him a creep

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Archaic Missouri law denies pregnant women the right to divorce, even in cases of domestic violence

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Who is Ziwe Fumudoh? Unpacking the comedy genius putting white people in the hot seat

By Charlie Sawyer

Emily Ratajkowski debuts divorce rings, symbolising the beginning of the loud breakup era

By Abby Amoakuh

Alabama Barker responds to Kourtney Kardashian’s Instagram post about new son Rocky

By Alma Fabiani

Cult leader accused of being behind 400 deaths including 191 children

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Polls reveal Joe Biden’s stance on Israel-Hamas war isn’t the top priority for young voters

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Influencer Chiara Ferragni issues apology amid €1M fine for misleading charity Christmas cake sale