The bright lights of Hollywood shined down on the USS Midway Museum when the carrier took center stage during the premiere for the long-anticipated motion picture, Top Gun: Maverick.

Tom Cruise lands on Midway in a helicopter to kick off the Global Premiere Red Carpet Fan Experience.

Midway’s flight deck brimmed with smiling celebrities, star-struck fans and enthusiastic media during Paramount Picture’s “Top Gun: Maverick Global Premiere Red Carpet Fan Experience.”

The global fan event on Midway was postponed twice due to the pandemic which for many actually made the anticipation of the film’s premiere even greater. A massive 250-foot red carpet, which stretched from the bow to the island, was lined by nearly 500 passionate Top Gun fans and almost 100 eager photographers, videographers and reporters.

The star of the movie, Tom Cruise reprising his role as naval aviator Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, arrived on the Midway’s flight deck in Top Gun style aboard an AS350 Astar helicopter with the new movie’s logo blazing on its side.

The lucky fans in attendance cheered feverishly as the 59-year-old Cruise emerged from the helicopter and stepped onto the red carpet.

“This moment, right here, to see everybody, this is pretty epic,” said Cruise to the fans in attendance.

With 2022 being the 100th anniversary of the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier and San Diego being the birthplace of naval aviation, Midway was the perfect location for the star-studded fan experience.

More than 60,000 people vied for only a few hundred tickets made available to the event. The tickets were gobbled up in less than two minutes.

“It felt surreal being here on Midway for this premiere,” said Top Gun superfan Fernando Escovar from Laguna Beach. “I think this movie will be a boost to our military and will be a great pump-up for our nation.”

Tom Cruise and Jennifer Connelly launch Top Gun: Maverick on Midway

As the celebrity event on Midway was part of Paramount’s global release of the film, both U.S. and international media were on hand to capture photos and conduct interviews with stars as they moved along the flight-deck red carpet.

“With this Top Gun sequel, it feels like movies are back,” said Sam Rubin, longtime entertainment reporter with KTLA-TV in Los Angeles. “Seeing this much media coverage of the premiere speaks volumes to the power of this movie and stars in the film. And actually, getting the entertainment media to cover any event outside of LA is very impressive.”

Music Television (MTV) also streamed the event live to millions of online viewers around the globe.

Media from around the world covered the Global Premiere Red Carpet Fan Experience on Midway.

“It was very exciting to be part of an event that has such a legacy and is on a scale that is so enormous,” said Adam Murphy, an executive producer with MTV who also directed the live stream of the fan experience from Midway.  “It was an opportunity to create a cinematic moment for all those here as well as all over the world.”

Top Gun superfan, Fernando Escovar, dresses the part of Maverick.

Along with Cruise, actress Jennifer Connelly and actor Jon Hamm, more than 20 other Top Gun: Maverick co-stars and filmmakers were on hand for the event giving the fans an up-close thrill of a lifetime.

“This was great,” said 15-year-old Preston Gordon of Lake Arrowhead, who attended the fan experience with his mother and grandmother. “I was looking forward to seeing Tom Cruise. I could have stayed on the Midway all day as I also loved seeing the planes. This is my happy place.”

The event was capped off by a dynamic four-plane F/A-18 Super Hornet flyover by Strike Fighter Squadron 154 (VFA-154) from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.  The super hornet was the Navy aircraft featured in the film.

“I think this was really cool,” said Lt. j.g. Anthony Marrazzo, a naval aviator and an F/A-18 weapon systems officer with VFA-154. “My parents loved the first Top Gun movie so to be part of this premiere was fantastic.”

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