That time a Boat Captain asked to a US Navy F/A-18 pilot to buzz his ship “Like Tom Cruise Did On Top Gun”

That time a Boat Captain asked to a US Navy F/A-18 pilot to buzz his ship “Like Tom Cruise Did On Top Gun”

By Dario Leone
May 3 2023
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Matt Wirt, a US Coast Guard Charter Captain from Wilmington got a surprise fly-by guest on Aug. 29, 2018 after an unusual transmission came over the radio.

Maverick: “We weren’t below the hard deck for more than a few seconds. I had the shot. There was no danger. So, I took it.”

***

Maverick: Tower, this is Ghost Rider requesting a flyby.

Air Boss Johnson: That’s a negative Ghost rider, the pattern is full.

To Aviation Geeks, these are memorable quotes from Top Gun, their all-time favorite movie.

Boat Captain to U.S. Naval Aviator: "Buzz Us Like Tom Cruise Did The Tower In Top Gun"

Instead to Matt Wirt, a US Coast Guard Charter Captain from Wilmington, these quotes bring to his memory a surprise fly-by guest he had on Aug. 29, 2018 after an unusual transmission came over the radio.

As reported by WECT on that day a US Navy warship was asking for a radio check, and then asked to Wirt if his 28-foot charter boat named “Killing Time” if it would like a flyby.

The boat was positioned 8 miles north of the Frying Pan Tower lighthouse, and about 40 miles off the coast of Wilmington, Wirt said in an interview with The News & Observer.

“I could hear a U.S. warship talking off and on throughout the day,” Wirt said. “It was kind of weird, they were asking for a radio check. I think they were just parlaying into a flyby.”

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After accepting the offer, Wirt said the pilot of an F/A-18 fighter jet joined the conversation.

“They said 2 minutes,” Wirt said. “The pilot came on the radio and did one pass low off our bow that I thought was the flyby. I told him, ‘I thought you were going to buzz us like Tom Cruise did the tower in “Top Gun”.’”

The Naval Aviator told Wirt the first pass was made to verify they had located the intended boat.

“He kind of laughed and said, ‘We’re coming back around – we’ll be back in 30 (seconds),’” Wirt said. “He said, ‘We’re at your 6 now,’ and said 10 seconds and he came by pretty fast.”

The video [CLICK HERE to watch the clip] was posted on Facebook by Wirt and shows the jet flying into the clouds after passing the charter boat. Wirt estimated the flyby was 80 feet off the ocean surface.

That time a Boat Captain asked to a US Navy F/A-18 pilot to buzz his ship “Like Tom Cruise Did On Top Gun”
The F/A-18 that flew over Matt Wirt’s boat (Source: Matt Wirt)

“I always tell my customers you never know what you’re going to see out there,” he said. “For all that just to come out of nowhere, it was a ‘proud to be an American’ moment.”

“When the U.S. Navy asks if you would like a fly by the only appropriate response is…. Please buzz us like Tom Cruise did on Top Gun!” Wirt said in one of his posts.

Photo credit: U.S. Navy and Matt Wirt

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Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.
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