The sequel to 1986’s hit Top Gun is taking off from a real aircraft carrier, the USS Abraham Lincoln, off Norfolk, Virginia, according to the U.S. Navy. The first day of shooting of Top Gun: Maverick took place at Naval Air Station North Island in California, the Navy said. In mid-August, shooting moved to the East Coast for at least a week.The Abraham Lincoln is the fifth vessel of the Nimitz-Class nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. The vessel is homeported in Norfolk.The USS Abraham LincolnTom Cruise and Val Kilmer have both returned to the cast of the sequel, slated to hit the big screen in July 2019. Media reports say Cruise plays an instructor instead of a fighter pilot this time. However, no one expects Maverick to stay on the ground when the plot’s action kicks in.New cast members: Whiplash actor Miles Teller as the son of Maverick’s former wingman, Goose, who was played by Anthony Edwards in the first film; Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind), as a single mother running a bar; Thomasin McKenzie (Jojo Rabbit) as the daughter of Connelly’s character; Charles Parnell (A Million Little Pieces) as an admiral; Bashir Salahuddin (GLOW) as an engineer; and the trio of Jay Ellis (Insecure), Danny Ramirez (Assassination Nation), and Monica Barbaro (The Good Cop) as pilots.Miles Teller. Photo by Mingle Media TV / CC BY-SA 2.0According to Digital Trends, “Paramount Pictures isn’t revealing too many details about the sequel’s plot, but the story is rumored to explore the relationship between human pilots and unmanned drones in the modern military.”Kenny Loggins is planning to record a new version of his song “Danger Zone” for the Top Gun sequel.Tom Cruise, who recently rebooted his Mission Impossible character, said in an interview with Access Hollywood on Top Gun‘s new chapter, “Stylistically it’ll be the same. We’ll have big, fast machines. … It’s going to be a competition film like the first one and it’s going to be in the same vein, the same tone as the first one, but a progression for Maverick.”The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) was also used as a filming location for the 2004 movie ‘Stealth’Oblivion’s Joe Kosinski is directing the film. Jerry Bruckheimer, who produced Top Gun with the late Don Simpson, has returned to produce the sequel.Pilot Online reports: “A 15-person crew from Paramount Pictures and Bruckheimer Films went aboard the Lincoln on Sunday and will remain through Saturday”, said Naval Air Force Atlantic spokesman Cmdr. Dave Hecht. He said no actors are aboard and that the crew is shooting footage on the flight deck of air operations, which include F/A-18 Super Hornets from Virginia Beach-based Carrier Air Wing Seven taking off and landing as part of their carrier qualifications.”Tom Cruise in San Diego filming “Top Gun” sequel“This opportunity is one of many aircraft carrier embarks planned pierside and at sea on both coasts coordinated by the Commander, Naval Air Forces,” Hecht said in an email from aboard the Lincoln.“Top Gun inspired countless men and women to volunteer to protect and defend our country as Naval aviators and the crew of USS Abraham Lincoln are excited to play a small role in bringing this story back to the silver screen and inspiring another generation to serve in the world’s finest Navy,” he continued.This image shows the Naval aircraft carrier the USS Abraham Lincoln docked in Everett, WA, March 21, 2010.The original Top Gun earned more than $300 million at the box office and is considered one of the quintessential 80s movies, the highest grossing film of 1986.In the original film, Cruise’s character, U.S. Naval aviator Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, attends the Top Gun school at the Naval Air Station in Miramar, California. Between beach volleyball games and dating astrophysicist Charlie, played by Kelly McGillis, Maverick pulls reckless maneuvers in a fight with Kilmer’s “Iceman” to prove who is the best pilot of the class.Val Kilmer at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival. Photo by Georges Biard CC BY-SA 3.0After the sequel was confirmed, Kilmer posted on Instagram, wearing a T-shirt bearing the face of his character, saying, “#TOPGUN2 was announced today. I’m ready Tom–still got my top gun plaque! Still got the moves! Still got it!”Read another story from us: Top Gun: Maverick returns to the Danger Zone with co-stars Tom Cruise and Val KilmerThe film was inspired by an article in California magazine about the Navy’s “Top Gun” school.Nancy Bilyeau, a former staff editor at Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, and InStyle, has written a trilogy of historical thrillers for Touchstone Books. For more information, go to www.nancybilyeau.com.