In real life, the millionaire Actor Tom Cruise is reported to own anywhere from three to five private jets including a $20M Gulfstream. He also held a pilot’s license since 1994 and he often pilots all of the private jets that he owns.
Tom Cruise is well-known for his efforts to perform his own stunts in movies, but at what cost?
Cruise is one of Hollywood’s biggest flying enthusiasts—a hobby he has demonstrated on screen in films like American Made. The star, whose breakthrough role was as a pilot in 1986’s Top Gun.
But he didn’t have as much experience with helicopters—until Mission: Impossible – Fallout came along.
The Hollywood actor learned how to fly a helicopter specifically so that he could risk his life filming a stunt in the upcoming Mission: Impossible sequel, a behind-the-scenes video for the film revealed.
According to Randy Hepner, an aerial assistant on Mission: Impossible – Fallout, Cruise accrued 2,000 flying hours in a very short period of time to get up to speed. Normally, pilots would need to train eight hours per day for at least three months just to become a novice pilot. But Cruise needed to be more than a novice pilot: He needed to perform a 360-degree downward spiral maneuver in mountainous terrain.
“Most pilots wouldn’t attempt this,” one stunt coordinator says in the video. “You make a mistake, somebody’s going to die from it,” another adds.
It’s unclear if the script necessitated that Cruise become a master pilot, or if the actor simply wanted to be one and then decided to use his new skills in the film. In this age of CGI technology and stunt doubles, we’re assuming the latter
The plot is a complex one, but involves a pivotal scene in which Hunt pulls off a corkscrew dive in a matte black Airbus H125 helicopter, with mountains on all sides. And because Cruise is the sort of maniac who does his own stunts, he himself pulled it off.
As the name suggests, a corkscrew dive consists of a steep vertical drop with a twist, the sort of thing more suited to an Olympic diver than a helicopter.
Here, Cruise faced the extra challenge of doing this all while avoiding the other helicopters in the production.
According to wired Here’s How Tom Cruise Learned To Fly A Crazy Helicopter Stunt For ‘Mission: Impossible’ Movie
Paramount Pictures sent Cruise to Airbus’ helicopter flight school in Grand Prairie, Texas, which mostly caters to the police departments and medevac providers who fly the H125 in less terrifying conditions.
To see what the actor went through, wired made the trek to Texas. WIRED‘s Jack Stewart pored over flight manuals, practiced in the simulator, and hopped in a whirly bird for our own flight.