Fictional Movie Prop From “Top Gun: Maverick” Will Appear at STEM Display.
The fictional movie prop, Darkstar hypersonic test aircraft featured in the opening scene of “Top Gun: Maverick”, will be on static display at Edwards Air Force during their open house this coming October 14-16 according to a report published on Aviation International News Online on Thursday, October 6, 2022.
The story, written by Chris Peacock for AINonline.com, reports that, “Lockheed Martin Skunk Works will put a secret hypersonic airplane on static display at the Edwards Air Force Base airshow from October 14 to 16. But it will never fly. It is the Darkstar full-scale model that is featured in the opening scenes of this year’s hit movie “Top Gun: Maverick.”
Peacock went on to write that, “The exhibit looks set to be the main attraction, at least on the first day of the show, when some 12,000 students from high schools in the region will attend. Lockheed and the show organizers hope that it will stimulate interest in aerospace careers.”
The timing of this public affairs event promoting the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) curriculum in schools not only helps focus attention on a hiring drive at Lockheed Martin, it also pre-dates the proposed rollout of the real-world Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider reported to be happening in early December. While the two events are certainly not comparable in real-world significance to the aerospace community, both will attract significant media attention in the never-ending battle for brand identity and social media traffic.
The scene at the beginning of “Top Gun: Maverick” that features the fictional Lockheed Martin Skunk Works Darkstar hypersonic aircraft is one of the most sensational in all of aviation cinema. This part of the plot had been teased for two years prior to the pandemic-delayed release of “Top Gun: Maverick”. Aviation fans around the world speculated about the role of the aircraft in the movie, and some fans spun wild threads revisiting theories that a version of the top-secret hypersonic test aircraft may have actually existed.
Theories about the existence of a hypersonic test or operational aircraft have been fueled for decades by sightings of unexplained contrails and even photos of aircraft alleged to be flying at high altitude over the U.S. desert southwest and even over the Atlantic. None of the theories have been revealed or proven as factual.
Interestingly, Chris Peacock for AINonline.com does mention that, “There really was an actual airplane built by Skunk Works named Darkstar in the mid-1990s. It was a joint effort with Boeing for a stealthy, subsonic, high-altitude UAV for reconnaissance. The aircraft was funded by the Pentagon and first flew in 1996. But the prototype— designated RQ-3—crashed on its second flight. A modified version—designated RQ-3A—flew in 1998, but the program was canceled the following year.”
But even if the Lockheed Martin Skunkworks Darkstar to be displayed at next week’s Aerospace Valley Open House, Airshow and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Expo at Edwards Air Force Base in California is a fictional movie prop, there’s no doubt that the excitement it creates will be very real. .