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Fighter jet front and center in new 'Top Gun' film lands in Minneapolis

The Minnesota Council of the United States Navy League is hosting a unique chance to see the Navy's F/A-18F Super Hornet and other aircraft.

MINNEAPOLIS — "Top Gun: Maverick", the sequel to the 1986 hit, had the biggest memorial day opening ever. It brought in more than $156 million this weekend.

It's also Tom Cruise's biggest opening weekend in his career.

The same type of plane Cruise is seen flying in that movie landed in Minneapolis on Tuesday. 

The Minnesota Council of the United States Navy League is hosting a private, "behind the curtain event", in part, to promote the new movie. 

KARE 11 was invited to the Minneapolis-St. Paul Air Reserve Station to see the F/A-18F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX-9) that are based at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California.

And unlike Tom Cruise, Navy Commander Tom Herrold actually flew the F/A-18F. He stopped once to fuel up in Casper, Wyoming, where it only took him another hour to reach Minnesota.

"It never gets old," said Commander Herrold. "Only the best grades in the class get to fly something like this."

Throughout his service, Herrold has seen combat with the jet he flies. It's built to destroy enemy targets after the Growler jams up their communication and radar. 

The F/A-18F weighs about 32,000 pounds, but can be about twice that with weapons and fuel. It can fly at about 625 miles per hour. But Commander Herrold has flown at speeds twice that. 

"The fastest I've ever been in a jet is Mach 1.59, which is one and a half times the speed of sound," said Commander Herrold, who admits he has seen the new "Top Gun" movie three times.

"Obviously, there's some Hollywood-ness that goes into it," said Commander Herrold. "But you could tell that they had a lot of consultants and really worked with the Navy to make sure it was spot on."

"Top Gun" is an actual 13 week course that officers can apply for. They train to become an elite pilot, the best of the best, and eventually train their own squadron. 

"It's not easy and we get to do cool things like this, which makes it worth it," said Commander Herrold.

The Minnesota Navy League Chapter, a 501c3, is a non-profit registered with the State of Minnesota.

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