In the 2017 cinematic venture “American Made,” Tom Cruise’s bold depiction of pilot Barry Seal took a tragic turn during production. Three pilots—Andrew Purwin, Jimmy Lee Garland, and Carlos Berl—operated a twin-engine Aerostar 600 in Colombia for the film. Regrettably, in a crash in September 2015, two lives were lost, and Garland suffered severe injuries. Lawsuits from the families raised questions about safety measures and alleged negligence.
Berl, experienced yet unfamiliar with the Aerostar, voiced safety concerns, while Garland, a pilot-mechanic doubling for Tom Cruise, had reservations. Purwin, known for daring exploits and with a contentious aviation history, faced pressure to proceed immediately, leading to the weather-related crash.
Legal proceedings ensued, citing coerced air travel, compromised aircraft, and falsified certifications. The claims reached a settlement in 2019 for an undisclosed amount, emphasizing the profound impact of the film on safety protocols, scrutiny, and regulatory standards in the filmmaking industry.
Parallels to flying hazards during the filming of “Top Gun” in 1985 underscore the persistent challenges in ensuring safety during aerial sequences. Despite its presence on streaming services, “American Made” remains a stark cautionary tale, highlighting the potential risks associated with ambitious cinematic endeavors.