Lubbock Native Fighter Pilot Flies High in ‘Top Gun: Maverick’
Everyone's been raving about the new Top Gun movie out in theaters, but did you know the movie has a connection to Lubbock, Texas?
In the movie, they are U.S. Navy fighter pilots, and one of the women that actually flew the jet is from Lubbock.
Her name is Amy Heflin. She is from Lubbock and graduated from Lubbock High School back in 2007. After graduating she headed to the Naval Academy where she went through school and served for the United States Navy for more than a decade.
Heflin told me that growing up in Lubbock shaped her to become a pilot. She always would go to Reese Air Force Base (before it closed down) to see all the air shows where she could watch the Thunderbirds.
In Top Gun: Maverick, Heflin doubles for actress Monica Barbaro, known by her callsign Phoenix in the film. You can see a picture of Heflin flying with the "Phoenix" helmet below.
Heflin got her wings back in 2013 and flies the F-18 Super Hornet. She was an instructor for the Strike Fighter Squadron 122 out in Lemoore, California when she started helping and working with the Top Gun crew.
She actually met them back in 2018 when they come out there to figure out the measurements for the airplanes and how to fit the cameras inside. Then, one year later when the crew started filming, they wanted a female aviator to fly Phoenix around. Heflin got chosen because she was the only female pilot in her squadron that had all the qualifications.
Heflin said she's seen the movie three times and that it's amazing. Audiences definitely agree, with the film raking in nearly $300 million at the U.S. box office after just 10 days. She loves watching everyone crying, cheering and loving the movie.
Heflin and one other female pilot did the flying with Phoenix during the movie. All of the low-level work and stuff in the mountains were done by Heflin. She told me there's so little computer generated imagery (CGI) in this film and a majority of the flying is very real. All the actors were really in F-18s pulling real Gs.
Heflin isn't a Top Gun graduate, having just got out of the Navy on June 1st, 2022 as a lieutenant commander. She's moving on to be an instructor in Lemoore, California.