Top Gun

Corrected entry: A Navy Commander (O-5) will NEVER be the Commanding Officer of an aircraft carrier, he or she will ALWAYS be at least a Captain (O-6).

Correction: The O-5 in the movie is not the commander of the carrier, he is the commander of the airwing (aka CAG by Navy terms). He is the officer in charge of all the squadrons on board the carrier. The Aircraft Carrier Commander is a completely separate individual, never portrayed in the movie. His job is to deal with driving the carrier around and the overall mission picture.

Corrected entry: When Mav and Goose eject (and Goose is killed), notice how the hatch hovers over the plane for nearly a full second. Pretty tough thing to do at 750 mph, huh? In reality the hatch goes first, then there is a delay before the seats go, but there is NO WAY to collide with the hatch in mid air - when the F-14 canopy is jettisoned it flies straight back between the vertical stabs like a field goal kick in the NFL.

Correction: There was an actual incident where a RIO was killed during ejection during a flat spin exactly as Goose died in the movie. This is where the idea for Goose's cause of death came from. Then the Tomcats ejection seats were fixed to incur a longer delay so this would not happen again.

Corrected entry: In the opening scene where Goose takes a photo of the the Russian MiG you can see that if he was inverted at such a close range the tails on the planes would be touching. This is an impossible move (and the cut of sequence looks a little rocky too).

Correction: Not so...the F5 (Russian Mig) has a single tail. The F14 has dual tails, so the Mig's would just slide between.

Corrected entry: Goose could not have died by his head slamming into his cockpit. In addition to Tomcats having canopies that shatter automatically, the ejection chair is extremely tall, tall enough to protect the pilot's head. In the movie his chair is tiny.

Correction: Tomcat canopies used to have explosive ejection. Only recent models introduced the shattering canopy.

Corrected entry: In the final battle scene the carrier's captain is told both of the ship's catapults are out, so no more planes can be launched to help Iceman and Maverick. The USS Enterprise has FOUR catapults.

Correction: When the statement was made that both catapults were broken and no planes can be launched, that can be a true occurrance. I have worked on Aircraft Carriers and if you have the Waist catapults go down on you, you can't just jump to the other two on the bow. In a situation where they were launching alerts, the bow would be fully loaded with other aircraft. The only time they would probably be open is if 3/4 of the jets were in the air already, which they weren't.

Corrected entry: In the scene where Maverick is preparing for launch as the "Alert 5" aircraft, he's shown to slide the canopy forward to close it. The Grumman F-14 has an aft-hinged, one piece canopy that locks in place when it closes, after being lowered into place. The canopy does not slide in any direction once closed.

Correction: Actually this scene is correct (and actually filmed in a real F-14). The Tomcat's canopy comes down to the canopy rails and then slides forward about 3 inches to lock. The reverse happens when opening. It slides aft 3 inches and then lifts.

Corrected entry: When they are playing volleyball, you can see that between each scene sometimes they have dogtags on and some scenes they don't.

Correction: Because of the jumping around while playing, the dogtags are flipping around from front to back. So, depending on the camera shot, you may not see the tags.

Corrected entry: The call of "going ballistic" is totally wrong. Calling "we're going ballistic" is a warning call to all other aircraft that you have no control of your airplane and it's only being controlled by the laws of physics (diving, turning etc) and not the pilot.


Correction: While you are correct technically, I don't believe Goose was referring to the technical use of the phrase/term. He was using it as a indication of excitement. "My daughter went ballistic when she saw the new puppy."


The fact that you point out the mistake is correct isn't a good way to open a correction. Plus, there's no indication he's expressing "sudden excitement." On top of that, even if he did intend to say "we're excited", it would still be a character mistake to use a specific phrase that has a specific meaning out of context like you're suggesting.


I did not point out of the "mistake" is correct at all. I pointed out that what the poster stated is true (to my knowledge) about what going ballistic means in the technical flying a plane sense. However, this is not how Goose is using it. He was absolutely expressing excitement. Maverick states that they are going vertical. Goose replies "We're going ballistic Mav, go get'em." He is not saying it to alert other craft (thus the call out specifically to Mav). This was a phrase used a lot in the 80's, but not much anymore. "Dad is going to go ballistic when he finds out", or "She is going to go ballistic when we get to Disney." It expresses anger, excitement, craziness.


The NATO Brevity Code manual (google it), specifically mentions "going ballistic" as a the term to be used once you have lost control of your aircraft, a warning to others. It's a term that was adopted *after* the movie for expressing excitement.


When the couples are all together at the restaurant/bar (01:01:45), Carole tells Maverick, "He told me all about the time you went ballistic with Penny Benjamin" (the Admiral's daughter). So considering his wife, Carole, uses this specific slang expression it's believable that Goose also uses the slang in this way despite its "technical" use. During the earlier training mission (00:31:55), when Goose reacted to Maverick going vertical after Jester goes vertical, Goose, perhaps inappropriately, casually used the term only while speaking directly to Maverick, so if this is to be listed as any kind of mistake it would be a character mistake. This movie was released mid 1986, and excitedly "going ballistic" (just like "going bananas") was indeed used prior to this movie's release.

Super Grover Premium member

Yet, they are not losing control of the aircraft in that scene, and he is not warning other aircraft since it's not happening AMD he is only talking to Maverick (the pilot who would be well aware if they were ballistic). I don't know exactly when the term hit the main stream as a term of excitement but it's pretty clear to me that he is saying it that way. Classifying this as an error would be like saying the lines "a walk in the park Kazinsky" or "the defense department regrets to inform you that your sons are dead because they were stupid" are errors because neither is true. He wasn't reporting to anyone that they were ballistic. He was encouraging his pilot and just happened to use an aeronautical statement in his excitement.


From The Dictionary of Clich├ęs by Christine Ammer: "It began to be used to describe human anger in the 1980s and quickly caught on." No exact date, but was used in magazine articles in the late 1980's, so probably by around 1986 it was a popular expression.


Corrected entry: In the opening flight scene when Cougar is having a nervous breakdown and can't land his plane or talk, you hear the controller say 'Cougar you are at three quarters of a mile call the ball'. Cougar then replies 'roger ball' in a cool calm voice which is inconsistent with the previous scene showing a speechless, rattled Cougar.

Correction: Cougar does say "roger ball." The LSO (Not air traffic controller) has a totally different voice when he asks Cougar to call the ball. The actual mistake is that neither Maverick or Cougar answer correctly ie "Maverick ball. F14 500", (callsign, acknowledge the FRESNEL ball, aircraft type, and fuel state).


Correction: Cougar doesn't say "roger ball", the air traffic controller says "rise your ball". So it is the air traffic controller who sounds rather calm.

Corrected entry: When Maverick and Goose are in the water after ejecting you can clearly see the boat that films them.

Correction: Not true!

Jacob La Cour

Corrected entry: Definitely the biggest mistake in the movie. Goose would have never died in the way that he did. On all of the F14 models, including the F14As that they were flying, the canopy has explosive bolts holding the glass to the metal on the canopy itself. When the ejection sequence is initiated, the bolts explode, shattering the canopy plexiglass. This was invented to prevent what happened to Goose.

Correction: Actually this is not a mistake, it is based on a number of real-life incidents with the F-14, which did indeed have a problem which led to some severe injuries (and I believe at least one fatality) before it was corrected. The problem was that in a position where the aircraft was subjected to severe asymmetric thrust it would enter a flat spin (i.e. one where the nose is roughly level with the horizon). As there is little or no airflow over the control surfaces (the aircraft is moving rapidly downward, but has virtually no forward airspeed at all) it is a very difficult situation to recover from. The original F-14 ejection sequence discarded the canopy first, which was supposed to be blown backwards by the airflow. However in the flat spin situation this did not happen - the canopy remained in approximately the same position relative to the aircraft. When the seats blew a few seconds later, the pilot and RIO were ejected into the canopy. After several accidents of this type modifications were made, firstly to decrease the likelihood of a flat spin developing in the first place, and secondly to increase aircrew survivability in the event of a spin occurring. The second part of this included modifying the eject sequence so the canopy was shattered, rather than jettisoned.

Continuity mistake: When "Charlie" is first introduced to the class, she struts down the aisle in heels. When she follows Maverick into the building, you can briefly see that she is wearing flats to compensate for Maverick's short stature.

More mistakes in Top Gun

Goose: It's the bottom of the 9th, the score is tied. It's time for the big one.
Iceman: You up for this one, Maverick?
Maverick: Just a walk in the park, Kazansky.

More quotes from Top Gun

Trivia: The "MiG-28s" in the movie are actually all Northrop F-5E Tiger II's, an American plane used for training and sold to other countries. In reality, there is no MiG-28.

More trivia for Top Gun

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