'Top Gun' Birthday Gift Takes Tragic Turn For The Worst

| by Jonathan Wolfe

California resident Sherri Winslow never could have predicted that her awesome birthday present for her husband would turn into such a tragedy.

Winslow arranged a $29,000 “Top Gun fighting experience” as a present for her husband Richard’s 65th birthday. For the experience, Richard would fly up in a soviet-era jet as his pilot reenacted many of the acrobatic aerial moves from Tom Cruise’s iconic 1986 movie.

Richard and several of his other friends were slated to go up in the planes one at a time. On the day of the trip, the first two flights went as planned. But moments after Richard’s plane took off, it was clear something wasn’t right. The jet he was in veered off to the right and pilot David Gillis called out “Mayday” over the radio.

The plane crashed moments later, killing both Richard and Gillis.

“It is with a tragic heart that I tell you all that a lost my husband and best friend," Winslow wrote after Richard’s death. "Please remember to give your best friend a hug and a kiss every day. I will cherish our last kiss for the rest of my life. Your friend Sherri."

Courthouse News reports that Winslow is now suing the flight company, Aviation Classics, for her husband’s death. She seeks damages for negligence, pain and suffering, loss of earnings, and a loss of consortium. It is reported that the pilot flying her husband’s plane once falsely certified another pilot in training. Weeks later, the unqualified pilot killed both himself and a passenger in a similar crash.

Winslow is represented by attorney Bill Bradley in the case. 

Sources: Courthouse News, NY Daily News