There are three pilots in the hall of the Palais des Festivals, in Cannes, on Wednesday, May 18: the general who commands the air force fighter planes, the lieutenant-colonel who heads the Patrouille de France, and a weirdo with a fairground costume. And then, on stage, there is Tom Cruise, the pilot of Top Gun, a thirty-year-old of almost 60 years old (July 3), still tapered like an airplane, dressed in black, teenage hair, killer smile, qu ‘A thousand people are standing and clapping (all with – at least – a smartphone filming), before he’s even had a chance to say a word.

“Top Gun is the film that made me want to be a pilot, murmurs, next to us, Lieutenant-Colonel Aurélien Hazet. I was 6 when it came out. He’s 42 today, he came to see and hear his mythical hero in this star among stars “master class” (Taps, Risky Business, Rain Man, Jerry Maguire, Magnolia, Mission: Impossible 1, 2 , 3, 4, 5, 6…), which is back for a sequel – Top Gun. Maverick – which hopes to be just as stainless.

At 4, the actor dreamed of making films, he tells a room on high doses of opiates, which applauds each time he catches his breath. Make movies, see the world, and then fly: “I remember the time I wanted to skydive: I took the sheets from my bed, I climbed on the roof… And just when you jump into the void, you say to yourself, but it’s completely stupid. He crashes to the ground. “For the first time I saw stars in broad daylight, I thought, ‘Ah! It’s interesting”, he says with his irresistible first communion smile. And then I got yelled at by my mother because the sheets were all dirty. »

“An aviation enthusiast”

The friendly lieutenant-colonel is delighted: “Tom Cruise is an aeronautical enthusiast, a real one”, he slips us. The day before, the Patrouille de France came to welcome the star at Nice airport, where he arrived from London aboard his private jet. Time for a debriefing between sons of the air. “In the back seat in the fighter planes, he told us how his challenge was to go beyond the stage of wonder in order to be able to play. »

At Air Base 701 in Salon-de-Provence (Bouches-du-Rhône), 150 kilometers by flight from Rafale, the eight Patrol aircraft are preparing to take off. The climb of the steps, Wednesday evening, will be with an aerial parade, blue-white-red lines in the firmament. French Top Gun. As the meeting ends, the oddball in the Albanian steward’s cap and an elegant blonde in red overalls, a naval aviation mechanic trend, try to get on stage. We think of a Femen. False alarm, she stays dressed… Tom Cruise is still smiling. We are worried that he will end up deaf from being applauded like this.