Behind the Scenes of a Top Gun shoot

The “Watch the Birdie” sequence from the 1986 blockbuster Top Gun may not be real, but it’s a unique moment in the story of aviation films. A photographer tried to replicate the scene 30 years later.


Behind the Scenes of a “Top Gun” shoot

The Top Gun sequence showing Maverick and Goose taking a picture of a surprised MIG pilot was recreated with a digital Hasselblad. Behind the Scenes shows how it worked.

A classic that continues to attract the attention of the public 31 years after it was released, Top Gun has many memorable moments, one of them being the sequence where Maverick (Tom Cruise) and Goose (Anthony Edwards) have a close encounter with an enemy MiG. In 2016, while everybody was celebrating three decades since the film’s launch, advertising photographer Blair Bunting decided it was time to attempt to recreate one of the movie’s most memorable moments.

A discussion with friends about the sequence led Blair Bunting to want to try to capture the shot, not with a Polaroid camera, as Goose used, but with a Hasselblad H6D fitted with a 35-90mm lens. The short video takes viewers behind the scenes, revealing all the preparations to recreate the famous ‘upside down in mid-air’ photo shoot.

The final photo and the considerations made by Blair Bunting suggest how difficult it was for the photographer to capture the shot. The photographer says that “as the G-Forces came into play during the flight it meant that the weight of the set up became very significant and I was hand-holding everything throughout, so it was quite a challenge. I had practiced using it upside down over the side of my hotel bed the night prior, but nothing could prepare me for what it was going to be like in the cockpit.”

The video takes us into the whole story, and for comparison purposes, we add the sequence of the real – well Top Gun real – Watch the Birdie shoot.  Follow the link to Blair Bunting’s blog to read the whole story.

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Journalist, writer and photographer since 1979, both print and online, with a vast experience in the fields of photography, software, hardware, web, aviation, History, video games, technology, having published content in almost all Portuguese newspapers…