Top Gun

Factual error: Before "classes" begin, the pilots are told that they would be flying against planes that are faster than their F-14's. The F-14's top airspeed is over 500 mph faster than the F-5's, and more than DOUBLE that of the A-4.

19

Factual error: Tom Cruise says of the song 'Sitting on the Dock of the Bay' "my folks loved it". However, his father died in 1965, his mother died "shortly after him", and the song wasn't written until 1967.

10

Factual error: In all sequences where Maverick "puts on the brakes", he is shown pushing the throttle quadrant forward and pulling the stick back. This would put him in a full-afterburner climb, but you don't really stop and it doesn't work in a medium speed tail chase (which is easier to film). The air brake does effectively nothing on the F-14 because it is too small, and not deployable at full power.

46
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Suggested correction: In the movie when Maverick "hits the brakes" he is not talking about the airbrakes. He rapidly pitches up the aircraft into a manoeuvre similar to the cobra (high G break) which makes the entire plane a massive airbrake. The reason he slams the throttles forward is so that he can catch the speed before the aircraft stalls.

2

In a turning fight, you are already loaded - already under G. 'Rapidly pitching up' is the default maneuver you are already doing. Pugachev's Cobra is not something the F-14 was capable of, as the maneuver requires the ability to rapidly generate significant angle of attack at low speed. Also, the cobra stalls the aircraft. You don't catch the aircraft before it stalls, you intentionally stall it. For that matter, fighter aircraft engaged in a turning fight are typically stalled. Fighters are not in the same category as most other airplanes :).

Also incorrect. When in a knife fight like that, you are not "rapidly pitching up" by default, every move is gradual and calculated, the only time you would be rapidly pitching up is for a "snapshot" of the enemy. Furthermore, fighter aircraft engaged in a turning fight are not "typically" stalled, you do NOT stall your jet in a fight like that. They'll be turning at either optimal AoA (Angle of Attack) OR the highest G for a snapshot of the enemy/to make an aggressive maneuver. In this situation, applying more thrust while causing a rapid onset of G is appropriate in the Tomcat, and while not able to pull a Cobra, you could still cause a disruption to whoever is chasing you - either forcing an overshoot or for them to break off to position for reattack.

Factual error: Every time they show a close up of Maverick moving the throttle (going to burner, hitting the brakes, etc...) he is doing it backwards. He pulls back for burner and forward to slow down. In real life, it is just the opposite.

47

Factual error: There is no "Top Gun Trophy." Pilots either complete the course or they don't.

10

Factual error: In the first flying scene where Goose says he has got contact with the enemy on his radar, the display shown is sweeping in a full circle. The AWG-9 radar of the F-14 is mounted to the front of the airplane and can only scan 60° left and right of the Tomcat's centre. (00:04:50)

8

Factual error: No part of the Indian Ocean could be described as 'enemy territory' for US ships in 1986.

Jacob La Cour
8
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Suggested correction: Not even Iran? Yemen?

No. Territorial waters don't extend all that far off the coast, and the water nearer those countries is the Gulf of Oman / Gulf of Aden / Arabian Sea, and wouldn't be referred to as the Indian Ocean.

1

Factual error: Just as Mav goes into the flat spin, you hear a voice over while looking at the rear of his F-14 (you can see the AB), you hear "Engine 1 is out" and you see the right engine flame out... this is engine 2, engine 1 is the left engine.

6

Factual error: During the briefing before the final scene, the Commander says, "The Migs carry the Exocet missile. They can fire that missile from a hundred miles away." Yes they could fire the Exocet from a hundred miles away, but the Exocet's maximum range at the time of this movie was around 40 miles. Plus the Exocet is a French missile and would not be on a Soviet Union fighter.

5

Factual error: The final dogfight scene has a huge error when Hollywood's jet is hit with a missile and he ejects. The next scene shows him manually deploying a small pilot chute to open his main parachute. After seat/man seperation, the main chute automatically deploys depending on altitude and airspeed. He would still be connected to his ejection seat until his chute deploys. Having to manually throw a "pilot chute" to the wind would leave too much for human error.

5

Factual error: This is the most basic mistake of all, but probably only obvious to those who fly in the Navy. Almost every written reference to "TOP GUN" is wrong. TOPGUN is one word, all caps, always has been.

3

Factual error: All the scenes with actors in the cockpit were shot in the front cockpit. Pay attention to the canopy frame behind the RIO. This would also explain a large gaffe from the movie - Merlin taps on the fuel quantity indicator and exclaims "C'mon Cougar, we gotta land this thing, we are way low on gas." The particular fuel quantity indicator shown being tapped by 'Merlin' the RIO, the one with the vertical tapes, is present only in the pilot cockpit. The F-14A rear cockpit has only a small fuel totalizer.

7

Factual error: In nearly every cockpit scene, regardless of fighter airframe, you can see that half or more of the lights on the caution lights panel on the lower right-hand side of the cockpit are lit. These lights are the illuminated names of all the systems that are not currently operating, ergo if the "Engine 1" light is lit, then Engine 1 is not running. If over half of the lights are lit (as in the cockpit scenes) then the pilots must be flying without half of their systems running, including engines, hydraulics, and radar. None of these lights should be on in flight. This makes it obvious that the scenes were shot on the ground using external power.

6

Factual error: When Top Gun first came out, everybody in our squadron made a big joke of the "Deadly Blue Tubes." This refers to the sidewinder missiles that were supposedly launched from the Tomcats. Those who are familiar with aircraft weapons, would know that the blue tube is a sidewinder simulator. If you were to launch this from the aircraft, all it could do is drop like a rock.

5

Factual error: The beginning of the movie when Maverick inverts and gets cozy (canopy to canopy) with the MIG pilot and Goose is taking pictures could never have happened. The tails of the F-14 are nearly 9 feet tall and the canopies are a mere three feet apart, so this would have resulted in a collision.

James Rowell
3

Factual error: After the dogfight, when CAG meets Maverick in the squadron locker room, Goose is written on the locker next to Maverick's. They would not have left this on there after his death.

6

Factual error: When Goose takes the photo of the MIG's cockpit, the type of Polaroid camera he is using has an acoustic auto-focus system. It will not focus beyond clear glass or plastic because the ultrasonic pulse bounces off the glass and not off whatever is behind it. Therefore the photo would be focused on Goose's own canopy and the MIG's cockpit instruments (of interest to Charlie) would be very blurry. Perhaps that is why the photo is not shown. Also: Goose proclaims the photo great immediately after it comes out of the camera. In fact it takes a minute or so to develop and become visible.

origamibob
5

Factual error: In his first flight at TOPGUN, Maverick and Jester are seen flying at low level, yet there is a 10,000 foot hard deck, so they must be flying over mountains that height above sea level, in which case the hard deck to be any use would have to be higher.

Factual error: Every time one of the F-14 pilots fires a missile, he thumbs the selector switch on the stick to the SP/PH (Sparrow/Phoenix) position, then pulls the trigger. In every case, it's a Sidewinder that leaves the rail, even though it isn't selected, and would not have had time to "home" anyway.

Factual error: When Mav explains to Charlie his dogfight with the MiG-28, Charlie asks him: "You were in a 4G inverted dive with a MiG-28?", "Yes Ma'am" he replies. Imagine the two aircraft. The F-14 was inverted (the back of the F-14 was "looking" at the ground, and it was pulling 4 positive G's), and the MiG-28 was flying horizontally (belly of the MiG-28 was "looking" at the ground) so it should have been pulling 4 negative G's to keep their distance constant, or more to increase it (otherwise they'd have collided). For the MiG to pull 4 negative G's is almost impossible for two reasons: 1) the negative g-limits of the aircraft are somewhere in the area of 3.5, and 2) the Russian pilot's eyes would have popped out of his head at this g-force. Even the most modern and agile fighter aircraft of the world (like the F-16 and the Eurofighter) have a negative g-limit of 3.5 while their positive limit is at 9, mainly due to human body constraints.

Visible crew/equipment: When Charlie walks down to the front of the class in the hanger, Jester is the only one at the front. Look at the reflection of Maverick's glasses, and the reflection shows lots of people standing in front of him.

More mistakes in Top Gun

Iceman: The plaque for the alternates is down in the ladies room.

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.

Upvote valid corrections to help move entries into the corrections section.

Suggested correction: It could be argued that in the alternate reality of Top Gun the fictional "MiG-28" was an improved reverse-engineered F-5 (VPAF gave the Soviets access to ex-VNAF F-5:s for evaluation after the fall of Saigon) explaining their similarity.

This isn't a valid correction for a trivia entry. There is no mistake being suggested, just letting viewers with limited plane experience know MiG-28 isn't a real plane.

Bishop73
More trivia for Top Gun

Question: Why does the air traffic controller call Maverick "Ghostrider"? Surely that isn't his call sign?

Macalou

Chosen answer: The term "Ghostrider" refers to the squadron name. There used to be a Tomcat squadron called the Ghostriders. Usually in a radio call, the squadron name is followed by a number. For instance, in the first fight where we see Cougar get into a spot of trouble with the Mig on his tail, he radios "This is Ghostrider 117 this bogey's all over me, he's got missile lock on me, do I have permission to fire?" That is normally the correct term as to who is on the radio.

More questions & answers from Top Gun

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