Sierra Hotel Aeronautics does not normally report on the entertainment world, but never say never…
We have an actual real world Sierra Hotel Hollywood exclusive story!! and we are proud to say it is not the usual negative Hollywood gossip and drivel, nor it it a story based on true events…but in fact an absolutely 100% true story recently shared with us by aerial camera operator - Bill Bennett.
During filming for the 80’s romantic comedy drama film called "Cocktail", starring Tom Cruise, Bryan Brown and Elizabeth Shue, a near fatal aviation accident occurred that thankfully never made it to be a reportable event…all thanks to Pete “Maverick” Mitchell aka Tom Cruise.
The story below was relayed to us by Bill Bennett aerial camera operator, who was working on the film helicopter that day. The story goes as follows...
"I witnessed Tom Cruise save Elizabeth Shue’s life, for real.￼”
" I was the aerial camera operator for the movie “Cocktail.” We were filming the scene from a helicopter, where Tom and Elizabeth are riding horses along the beach. ￼￼ We were shooting film, but I had a video recorder in the helicopter to record the camera’s video tap images. After a couple takes, the pilot would land the helicopter on the beach, and Tom and Elizabeth would come over to watch the shot recordings and get notes from the Director.￼￼ The only monitor was at my operating position in the left front seat of the helicopter. Because we were only going to be on the ground for a couple of minutes, the pilot would let the engine continue to run with the rotors turning. It was also quite loud, and you had to shout to be heard over the noise of the engine.
￼You have to know, when you are working around helicopters, that the area at the back of the helicopter, where the tail rotor is spinning, is deadly. The rotor is invisible when it is spinning, and if you walk into it, it will kill you instantly. It is a totally “no go“ area when working around helicopters.￼
So, after we had landed for the second or third time, ￼Tom and Elizabeth came over, I opened the side door of the helicopter and they leaned in to watch the shot on the monitor. The Director gave them a couple notes, and Elizabeth, getting quite excited, took off suddenly, running towards the BACK of the helicopter. ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼ I was strapped in with a five point harness, so I couldn’t do anything, but I leaned out and screamed, STOP!!” Just at that same moment that Tom saw where Elizabeth was going.￼ Tom is a pilot, rated in both airplanes and helicopters, and instantly saw the danger. He lunged after her, but only was able grab her legs, tackling her to the ground.￼
He rolled her over, dragging her at the same time, and you could see the momentary anger on her face while she was yelling “Why did you do that?” But by that time he is pointing at the tail rotor which is now a couple feet away, screaming at her that she almost died. At that point she turned white, and he pulled her back towards the front of the helicopter and they walked away.￼￼￼ All of us in the helicopter, we’re quite shaken up by the close call, but there was nothing to be said. Tom had, in that instant truly saved her life.￼￼
This was long ago, 1987, and mandatory safety meetings were not commonly done at that time. If it were the current day, there would’ve been a very formal safety meeting that would take place before the helicopter ever arrived, discussing all the dangers of working around helicopters.￼￼”
- Bill Bennett
So there you have it…we think Tom Cruise is pretty darn cool for saving Elizabeth Shue…aka the Karate Kids girlfriend, Marty Mcfly's wife, and the object of many of our secret crushes during the 1980s. In one single quick thinking tailrotor defying leap, Tom saved her! Being a Commercial licensed Instrument rated multi engine pilot himself, and owner and operator of one beautifully restored Red Tail P-51D Mustang #44-12840, and a Pitts Special to boot, Tom is no stranger to the dangers of propellers, and rotors.
Nice to hear a nice story about a celebrity that makes us smile, and we are happy to be able to tell it. No question that Ol’ Maverick did good that day...
We just have one thing to ask...