With her name adhered to the aircraft, Monica Barbaro climbed up the ladder to the Blue Angels' Super Hornet, strapped into the backseat and fastened her helmet with the genuine ease and finesse of a Naval Aviator. It's been years since she last donned a flight suit and flew in a fighter jet while filming the Billion Dollar grossing, Top Gun: Maverick, but to any onlooker, she's no doubt an aviator. She's the real deal.
Monica's pilot, Blue Angel #7 LCDR Griffin Stangel, joined her on the aircraft, shook her hand, strapped in and lowered the canopy. The engine revved, flight control checks were made in sync with the crew chief and the blue and gold jet began to taxi down to the runway for takeoff.
Unlike production days for the film, Monica didn't have movie cameras or lines to deliver while pulling G's, she was about to to enjoy a ride over her hometown of San Francisco, CA. Monica was nominated by Air Show Network and selected by the Blue Angels for this special ride ahead of San Francisco Fleet Week.
Not only is Monica a talented actor, the flight was in recognition of her contribution to women in aviation through her portrayal of "Phoenix" in the movie. Watching Top Gun: Maverick, there is never a doubt that Phoenix deserved to be there and her role in the film wasn't "checking a box" to have a female character. Phoenix wasn't the love interest. She was intelligent, steady and an accomplished aviator. Monica represented women in the Military with the pride and professionalism that Blue Angels hold dear.
Her flight with LCDR Stangel lasted about 45 minutes concluding with a carrier break upon arrival (you always know the backseat rider did well if the pilot makes that maneuver on approach!). Once on the ground, LCDR Stangel presented Monica with a personalized lithograph on behalf of the Blue Angels.
Thanks for coming out the show, Monica! It was an honor to have you there!
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