Factual error: Shortly after our hero ejects you see the pilot flailing around trying to pull the ejection handle. In a Navy aircraft with two crew, the NATOPS manual (Naval Aviation Training and Operations Manual) clearly states that the seats must be set in the "command eject mode". This means, regardless of who initiates the ejection procedure, the rear seat goes first, followed by the pilot 1/2 later. There is no need for the pilot to pull the ejection handle.
Factual error: Just prior to taking off from the carrier, you see clear shot of the pilot activating the "master arm switch". This arms all the weapons on board the aircraft. You would never arm your weapons until airborne.
Factual error: When the plane is called to shut down and abort, the crew leaves the aircraft and starts throwing the football around, but in real flight ops, a helicopter takes off first just in case an aircraft goes down. With that being said, the aircraft would have to taxi back to spot, and the helicopter would have to land. Everyone would still be in full flight deck gear.
Factual error: There is a short discussion about famous persons dying on plane crashes with John Denver being mentioned. The movie is set in 1996. John Denver was perfectly alive and well. He died in late 1997. (00:03:40)
Factual error: When the football falls in the water, the crew yells "Wilson". This is not a reference to the actor's real name but a semi-obscure reference to the ball in the movie "Cast Away". These movies were released very close together and so the likelihood that a movie-viewer would get the joke is certainly possible. However, the movie takes place in 1996, and "Cast Away" was released in 2000.
Factual error: NATO officials are not against sending missions to rescue soldiers behind enemy lines. In fact, they are more than willing to send a rescue mission if there is a soldier behind enemy lines. Piquet would have been punished for trying to stop the rescue mission, and for only caring about the peace treaty, as NATO officials would not have tolerated Piquet's bad attitude towards the rescue mission, or him only caring about the peace treaty. They know that rescue missions do not start wars because peace treaties have mechanisms to prevent just that.
Factual error: The exploding fuel tanks are dropped and explode to distract the Surface to Air missile. Problem: When the tanks are dropped, the SAM is only fractions of a second behind our hero's Jet. Assuming the fuel tanks would explode on impact, that would take several seconds to make a fireball. By then the jet and the SAM would be long past the fireball. (00:23:00)
Factual error: Most of the film footage shows the F-18E/F model "Super Hornet." At the time of the Bosnian conflict, this aircraft was not yet in service and was not slated to enter service until 2002. First flight: December, 1995. First carrier landing test: 1997. Entered Service: 2002/03.
Factual error: Gene Hackman is the Adriatic Fleet Admiral. While onboard the aircraft carrier, he carries out duties as the captain of the carrier. The only people who can give orders on a carrier are the ship's captain or the airwing captain. Gene Hackman could only give orders to the captain, who in turn would give orders to the crew.
Factual error: In the opening carrier takeoff scene, someone says "OK for start" when the aircraft is already on the catapult, ready for launch. Then, there is a shot of the instrument panel showing the left engine coming up to speed. The engines have to be started to taxi the a/c into position, and they idle at about 70% RPM. (00:02:35)
Factual error: When LT Burnett and his pilot are in the galley eating you see two people doing push ups. First, the officers mess is not that big, second, officers and enlisted don't eat in the same mess on a ship, third, no one would be in flight deck gear in the galley eating, and last, no one in their right mind would sit there and allow anyone to do that, let alone officers.
Factual error: In the opening voiceover, the narration refers to the Cincinnati Accords, when in fact the Bosnian peace talks were held in neighbouring Ohio city Dayton, and commonly called the Dayton Peace Accords.
Factual error: During the Recon flight launch, one shot shows the Super Hornet taking off with a blue Sidewinder. These blue missiles are simulation Sidewinders, and as stated in the Top Gun mistakes (same missiles used), all they do when launched is drop from the aircraft. (00:14:50)
Factual error: The heat seeking missiles would not have gone after the fire ball created by the fuel tanks as shown in the movie. Heat seeking missiles don't go after just any heat. They go after specific frequencies of infrared found in jet engines.