Top Gun

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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Jacob La Cour

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Factual error: In 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. First off 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. Second the suction of the air between these two airframes even at stall speed of 120 mph would have cause a violent collision.

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James Rowell

Factual error: During the briefing before the final scene, the Captain 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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Suggested correction: Navy jets use trigger for all Air to Air weapons (missiles and guns). Some Air Force aircraft do use pickle (red button) to fire missiles. In the Tomcat the trigger was used.

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.

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origamibob

Factual error: When Mav explains to Charlie his dogfight with the MiG-28, Charlie askes him: "You were in a 4G inverted dive with a MiG-28?", "Yes Mam" 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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Factual error: In describing the first encounter with the MiG, Maverick tells Charlie he saw a MiG do a negative 4G dive. However, in that scene, the two planes are flying straight and level - neither one climbs or dives at any time.

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Factual error: The helicopter on an aircraft carrier is usually one of the first aircraft airborne during flight ops. The helicopter should have been airborne already when they call to launch the rescue helicopter when Hollywood was shot down.

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Ken Hogan

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 and before he took off each day he would need to put this photo in place, as pilots don't have their own private planes.

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Factual error: At the end Maverick throws Goose's dogtags off the ship. American soldiers wear two dog tags. When killed, one tag goes to administration for paperwork purposes and the other is given to the family (if any). Goose's personal effects should have had only one tag and been mailed home to his wife, NOT given to Maverick. It is not military policy to let a deceased soldier's friends pick through his stuff after he dies, as we see Maverick do.

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Grumpy Scot

Factual error: When Maverick is riding his bike to get away from Charlie, he comes over a hill. There are no hills near NAS Miramar (Home of Fighttown USA/Top Gun).

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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.

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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.

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Hardcard

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.

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Factual error: When Maverick and Merlin are launched off the enterprise, the dogfight in which Iceman is in trouble takes place a hundred miles out. Despite this Maverick reaches it in "30" seconds. The F14 is fast, but not that fast...

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Quotes

Iceman: You can be my wingman any time.
Maverick: Bullshit! You can be mine.

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Mistakes

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.

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Trivia

The MiGs in the movie are actually all Northrop F-5E Tiger II's, an American plane that it uses as a trainer and sells to other countries. In reality, there is no MiG-28. It is just an F-5E.

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