Continuity mistake: In the opening scenes of the movie, they show a number of planes landing and being prepped for takeoff. One of the planes landing has the number 114 clearly shown on the right side. This is Maverick and Goose's plane. Why is it landing when two minutes later they're on patrol 250 miles from the carrier?
Continuity mistake: Scene of Tom's last take off - the Tomcat's tail number changes before he lands OR TC changed planes mid-air.
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.
Continuity mistake: In the opening scene, we know Maverick and Goose are flying in the morning because the CAG is greeted with a "Good morning, sir" before he asks who is flying. As the scene plays out, it is certainly taking place during the day. However, by the time Maverick is escorting Cougar back to the ship, the sun is setting - by the time Cougar's plane lands on the ship, it is quite dark. First, it seems highly unlikely that the encounter with the MiGs would have taken that long, and the F-14's certainly wouldn't have been able to stay airborne that long without refuelling - which we never see.
Continuity mistake: In the first dogfight there are several shots where the planes are very close to the ground - especially one flying over a flat desert where you can see the planes' shadows. In those shots they are definitely below 10,000 feet. However it is only later said that they are going below the hard deck.Jacob La Cour
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).
Continuity mistake: In the scene at the beginning of the movie when the Commander walks into the flight control room on the aircraft carrier and asks "Who's up there. Great Maverick and Goose"; he is only wearing pilot wings on his uniform. As the scene progresses when Maverick and Cougar tangle with the Migs, he is in the control room and his uniform changes to being completely decorated.
Continuity mistake: In the scene where Kelly McGillis hands Tom Cruise the note saying "meet me at my house 5:30 sharp" or something like that, if you look carefully you can see when she hands Cruise the note that there is a lot of print on the sheet, but when he looks at it in a close up the sheet is totally white blank except for her writing.
Continuity mistake: In the scene where Maverick and Slider are studying and Charlie slips Maverick the piece of paper with her address on it, Slider changes seats. First he is at one end of the table near the wall, then at the end of the scene he, and all of his stuff, is at the opposite end of the table.
Revealing mistake: The aircraft the American pilots are fighting against at the end are described as being "MiGs", but they are American F-5 jets, called Tigers, which the Navy is still using for the training of young pilots.
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.
Continuity mistake: At the beginning of the film, the squadron commander enters CATTC with a chest full of ribbons, next shot, all ribbons are gone. There is no smoking in CATTC (for the equipment) and the radar in CATTC cannot be used to monitor air combat movement as they did in the film. The Combat Centre or CIC is used for that.