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Tom Cruise and Glen Powell costar in the upcoming Top Gun: Maverick

By Helen Murphy
March 11, 2020 04:05 PM
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Top Gun: Maverick star Glen Powell is officially a pilot — and it’s all thanks to Tom Cruise!

On Tuesday, Powell, 31, revealed on Instagram that he had received his pilot’s license after Cruise paid for his flight school as a Christmas present. In the Instagram post, Powell shared a video of himself celebrating with his instructor after successfully flying his first solo flight.

“Try not falling in love with aviation after living out every pilot’s dream while shooting @topgunmovie,” the actor wrote. “Especially when you see the way @tomcruise flexes it. After wrapping a shooting day, Tom would rocket off into the sunset in his P-51 while I would limply shuffle into the cast van.”

Powell continued: “The wings were just so much cooler than the wheels…and for Christmas, Tom bought me an iPad with my flight school downloaded and prepaid. And yesterday, after months of flying, studying, and testing…I’m the real deal.”

“This is a video of me after my first solo flight,” he added. “It’s a tradition in the aviation community for your instructor to tear away your shirt signifying that teacher’s finally ‘off your back.’ My instructor @wallysaygers is just following ceremony, he doesn’t rip off my clothes after every flight.”

Powell concluded his post by writing, “Thank you Tom for being my hype man every step of the way. If you’re looking for me, look ☝🏼.”

Glen Powell, Tom Cruise
Glen Powell; Tom Cruise
| Credit: Todd Williamson/Getty; Leon Bennett/Getty

Powell and Cruise, 57, costar alongside Miles Teller, Monica Barbaro, Jay Ellis, Lewis Pullman and Danny Ramirez in the highly-anticipated Top Gun sequel Top Gun: Maverick.

The film takes place more than 30 years after the original Top Gun hit theaters in 1986 and follows Cruise’s iconic character, Lt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, as he gives additional training to graduate fighter pilots for the Navy.

Teller stars as Lt. Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw, the son of Goose, who died in the 1986 film and was played by Anthony Edwards. Val Kilmer, meanwhile, is reprising his role as Iceman, while Jon Hamm, Jennifer Connelly and Ed Harris round out the star-studded cast.

Top Gun: Maverick
Glen Powell in Top Gun: Maverick
| Credit: Courtesy Paramount Pictures, Skydance and Jerry Bruckheimer Films

“The movie is in really, really good shape,” Powell told PEOPLE of the sequel last month. “I have never felt more confident about people being so pleased with what we’ve put out in this movie. I know there’s a lot of expectation on it, but obviously pressure’s a privilege, and I think we did it.”

“Tom’s as great as people think he is,” he added. “He’s as nice, he’s as hardworking, he’s as generous, he’s as available. He’s the man.”

Top Gun: Maverick flies into theaters June 24.