Canada Question
This North Bay, Ont., pilot’s life looks a lot like Top Gun

This North Bay, Ont., pilot’s life looks a lot like Top Gun

This North Bay, Ont., pilot’s life looks a lot like Top Gun

Nicole Parker’s life has mirrored the story of top gun in many ways.

Parker, of North Bay, Ont., is a pilot with Air Canada and recently watched the long-awaited sequel Top Gun: Maverick.

Back in 1986, she was 15 when she saw the original action drama film, focused on students at the US Navy’s elite fighter weapons school.

At the time, she was already interested in aviation and was an air cadet in Trenton, Ont.

“What it [Top Gun] did was just kind of reinforce my love for aviation and my love for flying,” Parker said.

Two years after seeing the movie, Parker earned her pilot’s license. Several years later, her life mimicked the Tom Cruise movie in a new way.

In the original film, Cruise’s character, Pete (Maverick) Mitchell falls in love with his flight instructor, Charlotte (Charlie) Blackwood, played by Kelly McGillis.

Parker was a flight instructor too. She had a contract to teach students at Kingston’s Royal Military College. She also had a secret relationship with one of her students.

“I met him at a bar, you know, we talked and then, you know what? I showed up to the airport,” she said. “Over the next week, I found out he was my student.”

Relationship took flight

They dated secretly for two years before showing up at his graduation as a couple. The relationship grew. They fell in love, got married and were together for 16 years.

Parker says the original Top Gun cemented her love of flight. She took in the sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, with her 17-year-old son over the weekend. (Submitted by Nicole Parker)

“My ex-husband was a bit of a maverick and somebody who kind of thought outside the box throughout his career and life,” Parker said.

Like Cruise’s Maverick, she said, her amour had a motorcycle when they first started dating.

“I remember going for a ride on the runway in Kingston and then getting a phone call from the tower there, saying, ‘One of your students and some blond girlfriend is on the runway.'”

A newspaper clipping shows Justin Wall and Nicole Parker, right, at an air show in Abbotsford, BC, in 1997. Parker says their relationship is reminiscent of the love story in Top Gun. (Submitted by Justin Wall)

Parker’s ex-husband, Justin Wall, confirmed the motorcycle story.

“That was before 9/11,” he said in an interview.

“So they didn’t have … the security and everything. Certainly you weren’t allowed to be on the runway, but at the time in Kingston, you would know if there’s airplanes coming because the runway lights would be on.”

Wall said the original top gun inspired him to become a pilot.

“I saw that movie and I’m like, ‘That’s it.’ I was hell bent to go and fly jets off a carrier, but as a Canadian, you really have to move mountains.”

Sequel ‘a lot of fun,’ Canadian pilot says

When the long-awaited sequel was released this past weekend, Parker watched the movie on opening night with their 17-year-old son.

“It was a lot of fun,” she said about the film. “I think they did some really great flying scenes. So that just didn’t disappoint me. Great soundtrack, lots of one-liners.”

Tom Cruise plays Capt. Pete {Maverick} Mitchell in Top Gun: Maverick from Paramount Pictures, Skydance and Jerry Bruckheimer Films. (Paramount Pictures)

As with the original movie, the filmmakers worked closely with the US Navy and attached a half-dozen Imax-certified cameras to each fighter jet featured in the film. Cruise also designed a five-month intensive training program for his young co-stars.

The movie has resonated with audiences and made $156 million US domestically over its opening weekend.

LISTS | Pilot Nicole Parker of North Bay, Ontario, details how her life mirrors the Top Gun story:

Morning North8:47Woman from North Bay’s life has an uncanny similarity with one of the characters in the original Top Gun movie

The first Top Gun movie hit the big screen some 35 years ago. Now there’s a new Top Gun movie, but it’s a character in the original film that shares a very similar story to that of Nicole Parker from North Bay. Nicole joined us to talk about the uncanny similarities between her life and that of the character played by actress Kelly McGillis.

Follow us

Don't be shy, get in touch. We love meeting interesting people and making new friends.

Most popular

Most discussed