This North Bay, Ontario pilot’s life is a lot like Top Gun


Nicole Parker’s life mirrored the story of Superior gun In many ways.

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

In 1986, she was 15 when she saw the original action-drama film, which focused on students at the US Navy’s elite combat arms school.

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

“What is that [Top Gun] only reinforced my love for aviation and my love for flying,” Parker said.

Two years after seeing the film, Parker earned his pilot’s license. Several years later, his life imitated Tom Cruise’s film 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 also a flight instructor. She had a contract to teach students at the Royal Military College in Kingston. 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 at the airport,” she said. “Over the next week, I found out he was my student.”

The relationship took off

They secretly dated for two years before showing up at her 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 his love of flying. She followed the sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, with her 17-year-old son this weekend. (Submitted by Nicole Parker)

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

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

“I remember going for a ride on the track in Kingston and then getting a phone call from the tower there, saying, ‘One of your students and a blonde girlfriend are on the track. “”

A newspaper clipping shows Justin Wall and Nicole Parker, right, at an air show in Abbotsford, British Columbia, 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.

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

“So they didn’t have…security and stuff. You certainly weren’t allowed to be on the runway, but back then in Kingston you would know if there were any planes coming in because the lights of track would be lit.”

Wall says the original Superior gun inspired him to become a pilot.

“I saw this movie and I was like, ‘That’s it. I really wanted to go fly jets from an aircraft carrier, but as a Canadian you really have to move mountains.”

Sequel “very fun”, says a Canadian pilot

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

“It was a lot of fun,” she said of the film. “I think they did some really good robbery scenes. So it didn’t disappoint me. Great soundtrack, lots of lines.”

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

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

The film resonated with audiences and grossed US$156 million in its opening weekend.

LISTEN | Pilot Nicole Parker from North Bay, Ontario explains how her life reflects the history of Top Gun:

Morning North8:47A North Bay woman’s life bears an uncanny resemblance to one of the characters from the original Top Gun movie

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