One of the most exciting things about Top Gun: Maverick is his focus on practical effects. Most of the time, when you see movie actors struggling against high-level G-forces, that struggle is real. The actors spent months training to be on planes doing their own stunts, and the whole movie feels grounded because of that.
Most of the time these sequences were shot in practice, but not every time. In the stunning seven-minute opening movie (aka The Darkstar Series), almost everything we see is completely fake. The plane that was traveling at Mach 10 does not exist yet. It is a prototype of an aircraft destined to exist in the future, manufactured by Lockheed Martin. While a mockup of that plane was used to walk around the runway, any time we see the plane in the air it’s completely photogenic—light effects flawless. But aside from the visual effects, the thing that makes it look so real is the sound design.
in this video, Top Gun: Maverick Supervising Audio Producer Al Nelson breaks down the Darkstar sequence. He explains how his team made a non-existent plane sound real and, more importantly, how they took advantage of sound design to be as emotionally impactful as an orchestrated piece of music.
You can find this video and library Vox videos on YouTube.