Factual error: Although it doesn't occur in the land-based tower at Miramar during Mitchell's first high-speed pass (thankfully), when he repeats the pass at the carrier, the camera work tries to make it look like the jet rocks the tower. US super carriers displace over 100,000 tons, and are not pushed around even by 30,000 pounds of thrust flying nearby.
Factual error: The training was conducted at Miramar, 5 (or so) miles from the beach. When Charlie confronts Maverick about his flying and he leaves on a motorcycle, he zooms up a hill away from the ocean leaving NTC SD (Naval Training Center San Diego - not Miramar) with the Coronado Bay Bridge - and lots of ocean water - in the background.
Factual error: The implausibility of holding class in a hangar instead of a classroom has already been mentioned. But how about the desk just inside of the hangar doors, complete with blotter, "in" and "out" baskets and other accessories?
Factual error: In the final dogfight scene, the Search and Rescue helicopter lands with rescued pilots very soon after the last F-14 lands. The dogfight took place approximately 250 miles away from the ship. The top speed of an H-3 is 120 knots. It should have taken the helo nearly two hours to return to the ship.
Factual error: US Flight suits certainly have their share of insignia on them, including name, rank, unit and sometimes others. Often aircraft type, school and hours awards are also worn, but they don't look as much like NASCAR fire suits as the movie makes out. Even so, all extraneous insignia are removed when operating in a combat zone. They're attached with velcro for this purpose.
Factual error: After the final dogfight scene when Maverick and Iceman have landed, we see their two F-14 Tomcats spotted (parked) on the flight deck of the carrier. In the background, you see aircraft already spotted on the fantail (back of the ship) with several blocking the direct path of any aircraft landing on the carrier. While the aircraft directors and blueshirt crews would be fast in moving aircraft, they would not have had the time to spot and tie down all those aircraft on the fantail before Maverick and Iceman had finished parking their jets.
Factual error: After the graduation at Top Gun, the next scene shown is an aircraft carrier and the caption "24 hours later." To allow pilots time to overcome the effects of jet lag, they are grounded one day for every three times zones they crossed. Maverick wouldn't even have been on the flight schedule within 24 hours of having left California.
Factual error: Iceman is hit by cannon fire and has to shut down the right engine as a consequence. Later on, when Iceman and Maverick return to the carrier, Maverick asks for a flyby, which both tomcats perform as if nothing had happened to Iceman's plane. This violates regulation, essential safety protocols and it contradicts both Maverick and Iceman's personalities. The first thing you want to do when flying with only one engine (because your plane is damaged) is to make sure you land as soon as possible, you don't perform flybys, you don't even consider it. The remaining engine could fail too, turning the tomcat into a glider, that would mean the loss of the plane and it would put the lives of both pilots at even more risk. Maverick wouldn't allow this after losing Goose and Iceman has that nickname and reputation because he's a perfectionist, he plays utterly by the rules he wouldn't act like a fool when flying a damaged plane in that context. Also, Iceman performs that flyby with both engines running, which is absurd. (01:39:20 - 01:40:00)Hardcard
Factual error: Cougar would not have a photo of his wife and kids in the cockpit as seen in the opening scene, as it would fly around when maneuvering. It could also obscure instruments.
Factual error: In every scene in which Maverick and Goose are in their flight suits, the squadron patch they wear is that of Airborne Early Warning Squadron One Two Zero (VAW-120). The same graphic is use on their flight helmets. Airborne Early Warning Squadrons in 1986 were flying the E-2C Hawkeye, a twin-turboprop aircraft with a rather large and obvious 24' diameter rotating dome mounted above the fuselage. Also worth noting, the squadron logo used on the aircraft in the movie was that of Strike Fighter Squadron 25, the "Fist of the Fleet." VFA-25 never flew F-14 Tomcats. In 1968, they flew the A-7B Corsair II, then in May 1983 they transitioned to the F/A -18A Hornet. Additionally, Hollywood and Wolfman are wearing patches/helmet graphics of VAW-124 Bear Aces (another VAW E-2 squadron).
Factual error: In the final dogfight, it is declared that the MIG-28s carry the "Exocet" anti-ship missile. This missile is around 1,500lbs and would be visible on the enemy fighters. That additional wing loading would have made them ineffective in a dogfight and they would have been easily overwhelmed by the F-14s in a dogfighting (no external tanks or heavy ordinance) configuration. Not to mention that Exocet is a French-made missile and would not be carried by a Soviet fighter.
Factual error: When Mav is talking to Charlie he said his dad went missing in an F4 in 1965. Much later when Mav is at Viper's house Viper states that he flew with Mav's dad in VF51. VF51 flew the F8 Crusader until 1971 when they transitioned to the F4, so if Mav's dad was in VF51 as implied in '65 he would have been in an F8, not an F4.
Factual error: Pretty much everyone who fires a missile in this movie uses the stick's trigger. In a fighter aircraft, the trigger controls the radio/intercom or fires the gun. The red button on the far left fires weapons after the hat or castle switch selects them.
Factual error: After the initial contact between the F-14 and the 'Soviet' MiGs, Maverick is on final approach and the LSO (Landing Signal Officer) instructs Maverick to 'Call the ball', referring to the ships 'meatball' landing light system. Maverick calls back 'I have the ball'. The correct phraseology would have been 'Tomcat ball' followed by fuel state, such as 5 point 5 meaning 5,500 lbs fuel remaining.