F-14A Tomcat Pilot tells the story of the real life Goose and explains how Nick Bradshaw could have survived the flat spin featured in Top Gun Movie

There was a Real-Life Goose RIO who was Killed during an Ejection Accident too: but Instead of the Top Gun Character He Ended Up with five total Ejections, the Last being Fatal

By Dario Leone
May 25 2022
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Goose (Maverick’s Radar Intercept Officer, RIO) provided an emotional spine to Top Gun when he is killed by accident and Maverick blames himself.

As already reported, the internet was set ablaze on Mar. 29, 2022 when the final trailer of Top Gun: Maverick debuted.

In fact, nearly three years after its unveiling, Top Gun: Maverick finally has a stable release date: May 27, 2022.

As shown in the latest trailer, Tom Cruise’s Pete “Maverick” Mitchell must gain the courage to face Miles Teller’s Bradley Bradshaw.

Bradley, who goes by the call sign Rooster, is the son of Nick Bradshaw, a.k.a. Goose, Maverick’s former Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) who died in the first movie after a competitive training mission went wrong.

John Chesire, former US Navy F-14A Tomcat pilot, explains what actually happened to Goose during the ejection on Quora.

‘Upon ejection, the crew is ejected not simultaneously but with a short interval. Moreover, they are ejected at slightly different angles.’.

According to the F-14 Tomcat Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization (NATOPS) flight manual:

“The aircraft is equipped with an automatic electronically sequenced command escape system incorporating two Navy aircrew common ejection seat (SJU-17(V) 3/A (pilot) and SJU-17(V) 4/A (RIO)) rocket-assisted ejection seats.

“Both seats are identical in operation and differ only in nozzle direction of their lateral thrust motors, which provide a divergent ejection trajectory away from the aircraft path.

VF-1 F-14 print
This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F-14A Tomcat VF-1 Wolfpack, NE103 / 162603 / Operation Desert Storm, 1991

“When either crewmember initiates the command escape system, the canopy is ballistically jettisoned and each crewmember is ejected in a preset-time sequence. The RIO is ejected to the left and the pilot to the right.

“Safe escape is provided for most combinations of aircraft altitude, speed, attitude and flightpath within an envelope from zero airspeed, zero altitude in a substantially level attitude to a maximum speed of 600 KCAS.”

Chesire continues;

‘Normally, within the ejection sequence, the canopy will automatically be blown off before the crews ejection seats fire. With forward airspeed, the canopy will always be well behind the aircraft when the RIO’s ejection seat fires.

‘However a flat spin provides a peculiar problem. Because there is no significant forward airspeed in the spin, the canopy is not blown behind the aircraft. Worse, there exists a partial vacuum just above a flat spin aircraft that can capture and hold a canopy in place above the aircraft. So when the RIO ejects, there is a strong chance he will impact the canopy hovering above. This has actually happened in real life.

‘To solve this problem, aircrews were advised to jettison the canopy early, and not wait for it in the ejection sequence. This would give a little more time for the canopy to move beyond the aircraft. There was a handle if pulled, would automatically jettison the canopy. This was totally separate from the seat ejection system.’

There was also a real-life Goose RIO who was killed during an ejection accident too.

‘But that real-life Goose died upon ejection from a different cause,’ Chesire recalls.

‘The real RIO in question was Lt. David J. “Goose” Lortscher. His callsign Goose later became part of the movie.

F-14 model
This model is available from AirModels – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS

‘I knew him in the F-14 RAG, VF-124 although I don’t think I ever flew with him. He already had a couple of ejections and we used to laugh that we did not want to fly with him because he was, “bad luck”.

‘Nevertheless, he was a highly respected officer and RIO, and no one actually avoided flying with him. He was a big guy, and easy going.’

Chesire concludes;

‘He ended up with five total ejections, the last one proved to be fatal. But that last one was different than the movie.’

In 2017, Anthony Edwards, who played Goose in the first Top Gun filmed a funny video asking for a role in the upcoming sequel.

Although his character died in the first movie, that did not stop Edwards from lobbying for a chance to appear in the sequel as “Ghost Goose.”

The original featured Goose’s son as a young boy, with Meg Ryan playing his mother.

Will Rooster ever forgive Maverick for the fateful event that took his father’s life? Hard to say. But Maverick wants to make one thing clear: “I’m not a teacher. Just want to manage expectations.”

Watch the final trailer of Top Gun: Maverick below.

Photo credit: Paramount


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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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Comments

  1. DavidMHoffman2 says:

    The F-14 was supposed to be designed to be highly resistant to flat spins.

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