National Naval Aviation Museum Historic Ties to Hollywood
Whether life imitates art or art imitates life, there are connections between our nation’s military and Hollywood seemingly everywhere you look. So, it’s no surprise that NNAM has its own ties to Tinseltown. Here we’ve listed a few of our favorites:
1. F-14 Tomcat & “Top Gun”
Along with Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis, the F-14 Tomcat was one of the stars of the movie “Top Gun,” the blockbuster hit movie about students at the United States Navy’s elite fighter pilot school. Thanks to its association with the film, the F-14D Tomcat is perhaps the most widely recognized Navy fighter jet one of the Museum’s most popular aircraft.
FUN FACTS ABOUT “TOP GUN”
• It was the highest-grossing movie of 1986. It took in $177 million in the U.S. and $356 million worldwide.
• Paramount Pictures commissioned Grumman, the makers of the F-14, to develop and install special camera mounts on the plane so that filmmakers could use real aerial point-of-view footage of the F-14 Tomcat in flight.
• Following the movie, some of the F-5s that were used to portray the “MiG-28s” maintained their black paint makeovers and served as simulated enemy planes in the Navy’s real-life Top Gun program.
2. A-6 Intruder & “Flight of the Intruder”
“Flight of the Intruder” is a 1991 film directed by John Milius, based on the novel of the same name by former Grumman A-6 Intruder pilot Stephen Coonts. The film, starring Danny Glover, Willem Dafoe and Brad Johnson, features an A-6 Intruder, a carrier-based strike aircraft used in bombing missions during the Vietnam War, one of which is on display at NNAM.
3. USS Oriskany & “The Bridges at Toko-Ri”
The 1954 motion picture “Bridges at Toko-Ri,” starring Grace Kelly, William Holden and Mickey Rooney, is based on a novella by James Michener. The shipboard scenes for the movie were filmed on the U.S.S. Oriskany, the Essex-class aircraft carrier that served in the Korean and Vietnam Wars and was sunk off the coast of Pensacola on May 17, 2006, to become the largest artificial reef in the world.
FUN FACTS ABOUT “THE BRIDGES AT TOKO-RI”
• The novel and film were based on actual missions flown by U.S. Navy fighter pilots against the railroad bridges at Majon-ni and Samdong-ni, North Korea, when Michener was a news correspondent aboard the aircraft carriers U.S.S. Essex and U.S.S. Oriskany.
• In the movie, the pilots fly the Grumman F9F Panther, but in the book, they fly the McDonnell F2H Banshee. Both planes were used by the U.S. Navy for combat missions in Korea, and both are on display at NNAM.
• Another 1954 movie called “Men of the Fighting Lady” (also known as Panther Squadron) was filmed aboard the U.S.S. Oriskany. That film was also inspired by James Michener, this time by a Saturday Evening Post article he wrote titled “The Forgotten Heroes of Korea.”
• The U.S.S. Oriskany reef is now popularly known as the “Great Carrier Reef,” a reference to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
• The U.S.S. Oriskany launched John McCain on his fateful flight to The Hanoi Hilton, during the Vietnam War.
4. Lunar Module Replica & “Apollo 13”
A replica of the Lunar Module (LM) that landed Apollo 17 astronauts on the Moon in December 1972 is on display in Hangar Bay One. It is similar to the one featured in the blockbuster film “Apollo 13.”