The Real Pilot Lost During Top Gun...Art Scholl

The 1986 blockbuster film TOP GUN included one scene where the character Maverick, inadvertently entered an inverted flat spin that killed his RIO “Goose”, but it was not Goose that was lost in that spin. That aviator's name was Art Scholl.

Art, was an experienced and well-known air show performer, professor and head of the Department of Aeronautics at San Bernardino Valley College, flight instructor, and film and production pilot who had worked on hundreds of hit TV shows and movies including Iron Eagle, The A-Team, and Indiana Jones, to name just a few. He had just started working on a new project called Top Gun.

Art had been approached to film some background shots - known as ‘plate shots’ - which are used as a backdrop behind the actors on a green screen during filming. The requested footage was the inverted flat spin filmed from the pilot’s perspective. Art was proficient in teaching both the normal and inverted flat spin… for Art would be nothing more than “a walk in the park”

On September 16th, 1985, Art headed out with an observer aircraft in trial to capture several sequences of these flat spins. In the first sequence, his camera caught the observer airplane, which was flying behind him, so Art requested that they back off a couple of miles to avoid spoiling the shot.

The observer aircraft obliged by backing off, and inadvertently lost sight of him. Moments later Art radioed that he was entering another inverted flat spin approximately five miles off the Californian coast - near Carlsbad.

‘Part way down he radioed again saying, "I have a problem" and then about three seconds later he said, 'I have a real problem.'

By the time the observer aircraft closed its distance, he was gone.

The Coast Guard said it was too deep to try and look for anything

Neither Art nor his airplane were ever seen again…
It was then decided that the movie TOP GUN would be dedicated to Art's memory.






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