Heroes #5: Lt. Nick "Goose" Bradshaw


14th August 2005

Very few men can share a screen with Tom Cruise and come off looking like the hero of a movie. Granted, very few people outside of the Hobbit / Oompa-Loompa community can share a screen with the Cruiser without some sort of camera trickery, but that's for another feature. The fact is that Tom's winning smile and lovely hair tend to so dazzle all the housewives in the crowd that co-stars never really get a look in. However, Lieutenant Nick "Goose" Bradshaw is a man who can. Goose spends much of his time in the shadow of his diminutive buddy, Lieutenant Pete "Maverick" Mitchell; hanging around local bars, singing intrusive karaoke to helpless females, and wearing shades in darkened nightclubs. Oh yeah, and he also flies around in a massive great F-14 from time to time.

Goose manages to emerge as a hero despite sharing a film with several big personalities. Top Gun Academy is filled with a memorable crew of young, dumb and pretty fighter pilots, all with special skills. "Iceman", for example, has hair so large it can be seen from space, whilst "Hollywood" can oil himself up and hit poses so homoerotic that nearby horses have been known to spontaneously combust.

Top Gun is not an easy place to remain true to oneself, but this is exactly what Goose manages to do. It would be so easy to just don the white uniform and enter into the boys-own atmosphere of his colleagues, who seem to spend most of their time rubbing each other down and flicking each other with wet towels. Goose, however, has no interest in such behaviour. Maverick even tries to lead him on by posing repeatedly in his white pants, but Goose remains strong and keeps his eyes fixed firmly forward at all times. Not content with being a very promising young navigator, Goose is a man of many extra talents. He is a skilled musician, and has been known to irritate staff and customers of many a small diner with raucous sing-alongs on the house piano, his meticulously rehearsed duets with Maverick have also been known to go down a storm in local nightspots. Goose is also a keen photographer, and has a series of interesting pictures taken from the air, including one of his buddy Maverick "flipping the bird" at a MiG pilot not four feet away.

Goose is also a keen sportsman. He enjoys nothing more than a game of beach volleyball with his pilot chums. In fact, so seriously does he take his sporting performance that he steadfastly refuses to indulge in any of the greased-up machismo that his fellow players seem to enjoy so much. Whilst the rest of the competitors seem to spend more effort liberally smearing themselves with Johnson's baby oil and hitting achingly striking poses, Goose remains the model of professionalism, content to play the game in a sensible T-shirt and pair of Bermuda shorts. It must also be noted that Goose seems to be the only pupil at Top Gun Academy capable of sustaining a long-term relationship with a member of the opposite sex. Whilst the rest of the pilots hit the clubs in their nice white uniforms and shades looking to enter the local ladies' danger zones, Goose is just along for a sociable Budweiser. His heart belongs to the one and only Meg Ryan, who can now only dream of ever appearing in a film a good as Top Gun again.

Sadly, Goose must be remembered as a tragic hero. I refuse to believe that anybody who has watched Top Gun through did not shed a tear when the great man fell victim to the Cruiser's reckless flying, and indeed nobody connected has ever fully recovered from the loss. Cruise went on to clag such as Far And Away, whilst Meg Ryan tried to find happiness with Billy Crystal, Tom Hanks and, most worryingly of all, Russell Crowe. Remember kids - next time you're drinking a cold beer, pour a little on the ground for Goose. He's a hero that will live on in all our hearts - a wingman you'd be proud to call your own.

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