Birds striking an aircraft can lead to some serious conditions — just look at the Miracle on the Hudson, where pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger had to stage an emergency water landing after birds struck his plane. But what if a bird hit Tom Cruise? If that happened on the land, it would probably be funny. Admit it. You would laugh at a bird flying into Tom Cruise while he was walking down the street. But a bird hitting Tom Cruise while he’s hanging off the side of a dang plane? That could be disastrous.
In a behind-the-scenes video for “Rogue Nation,” Cruise says that when it came time to film the stunt, they were “concerned about bird strikes.” “Rogue Nation” director Christopher McQuarrie adds: “We simply could not control the variable of birds flying in the path of that airplane, and if a bird hit Tom at that speed on any part of his body, that would have been the end.”
Good boy scout that he is, Tom Cruise came prepared. No damn bird was going to screw up his big plane stunt! “If I see a bird I’m going to press up against the side of the airplane,” Cruise said. Look, I know this is all deadly serious, but I have to admit it’s kind of funny to imagine Tom Cruise spotting a bird and trying to hide from it while hanging off an airplane 5000 feet in the air. Thankfully, in the end, no bird appeared.
During the same interview, Cruise also talked about another problem: getting poisoned by the plane’s exhaust.
“I never mention it to anyone, but I’m a pilot, so I knew what the exhaust was going to be like. You know, everyone’s looking at all these kind of problems, but I thought this could also be a problem in terms of an extended amount of time back there could be poisonous.”
Cruise adds that despite these fears, he “felt very confident with the team and the pilot.” And of course Tom Cruise is a pilot. He’s Maverick, after all. Also, just the thought of getting hit by a damn bird or getting poisoned by exhaust would be enough for me to not even consider doing something like this. But that’s fine — we can all leave the hard work to Tom Cruise. He seems happy to do it.