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.
Continuity mistake: After seeing his pilot get shot, Owen Wilson's character starts running uphill while being shot at. Of course you know he's being shot at because you can see the tracers. However, after cresting the hill, and starting down the other side, you STILL see rounds going past him. How did they get smart bullets?
Continuity mistake: The three Marine helicopters leaving the carrier are three UH1N Marine model helicopters. When they arrive in Bosnia to rescue the downed Navy pilot the same helicopters become two Bell model 205C and a Bell 412. When landing back on the carrier with the rescued pilot, they are again N models.
Other mistake: When Stackhouse and Burnett are being chased by the SAM, they pull to the right after deploying flares and you hear a voice on the radio say "Chaff, Chaff, Chaff". Chaff is a cartridge of small metal strips released as a countermeasure for radar guided missiles. These small strips add noise to the radar and clutters it up giving the pilot about 5 seconds to evade the missile. Throughout the scene, several indicators such as the flares and exploding fuel tanks suggest that they are fleeing from a Heat-seeking missile, not a radar guided one. To add to this, the voice on the radio wasn't that of Stackhouse or Burnett and was added for radio effect.
Continuity mistake: Gene Hackman begins the movie as a two-star rear admiral. Later in the movie, however, shortly after the second stand-down ordered by NATO Admiral Piquet, he wears three stars on his collar, signifying a promotion to vice admiral. This is highly unlikely, as he spends nearly all of the movie in the grease with his superiors. By the end of the movie, he retires as an Admiral with 4 stars on his uniform.
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.
Deliberate mistake: During the ejection sequence there is a major problem with the parachutes used by the crew. When you see the first parachute open, it is a standard Navy Conical round canopy with 3 colours; Orange, Green and White from the bottom view. A moment later they are flying ram air rectangular parachutes with different colour patterns.
Continuity mistake: When the tank fires into the building Burnett and the other man flies through the air landing on the floor. When they are about to get up we see broken glass beside Burnett. When it cuts the glass is gone. Also when they land Burnett's head is facing the man. When it cuts they lie feet against feet.
Continuity mistake: The plane's weapons are there in some shots and not there in some shots. At 14:22, on the carrier you can clearly see 2 sidewinder missiles on the tips of the wings. At 14:52, they are there but are now blue. At 14:53, as it goes past "SHOOTER" they are gone. 14:57 there again.
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.
Continuity mistake: In the launch scene of the recon mission, one camera shot is centered on the aircraft's lower fuselage as it is moving on the catapult towards and to the right of the camera. If you look closely, you will notice that there are rounded intakes on the aircraft. Those intakes are only on the regular Hornet (F/A-18A-D). The Super Hornet (F/A-18E/F) has rectangular intakes like the Tomcat.
Continuity mistake: Right after Stackhouse and Brunett has been spotted flying by the serbian soldiers and the soldier enters Lokar's office, we see Lokar resting his head in his hand while holding a cigarette. When it cuts he is no longer resting his head but he takes a lung full up smoke instead.
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: 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: 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.
Deliberate mistake: The French NATO rescue team is flying an old, Russian-made Mi-17 helicopter which is not in service in France. It was probably rented in Slovakia where most of the film was shot. The Mi-17 is easily distinguished from the French multi-purpose helicopter Puma: the Mi-17's landing gear is supported by huge rods, its side windows are round, and it has a sleek boom with the tail rotor on the left side. The Puma has smaller gear support, rectangular side windows, and a thicker boom with the tail rotor on the right side.
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.
Continuity mistake: When Owen Wilson parachutes through the trees, his oxygen mask goes from being on, covering his face, to being off and dangling. This repeats when he drops from his tangled chute. When he initially cuts free, his mask is over his face, then when he gets up it is off. A pilot should keep his mask on and visor down after ejecting over land to prevent injuries to his face and eyes should he wind up in the trees like Wilson did.
Revealing mistake: Towards the end of the movie when Burnett is by the plane's ejection seat, you see a puddle of water by him with snow flakes floating on top of the water. Snow flakes dissolve in water as soon as they hit. They use a corn starch type mixture to make fake snow, and that is what you are seeing in this scene.
Plot hole: When Burnett is hiding in the mass grave, the people on the ship are watching a thermal image of him. When he falls, his arm is at an angle and stays at that angle. To move under the bodies in the grave he would had to have moved his arm. But it stays at the same angle throughout, so how could he move under the bodies, without his thermal image moving?
Other mistake: At the very end, in the helicopter, Gene Hackman is wearing a full helmet with a mouthpiece so he could hear and talk to the people in the helicopter and back at the ship; Owen Wilson is not wearing a helmet or a mouthpiece. There is no way Owen Wilson could hear what Gene Hackman is saying and vice versa. Battle helicopters are very noisy; you must have a helmet to hear and a mouthpiece in order to speak to be heard.
Revealing mistake: When Owen Wilson is trying to restart the beacon in his ejection seat, his right hand is ungloved. Yet in the scene before, he took off his left glove. It is my belief the negative is reversed, as you can catch a quick view of a Duracell battery with the letters mirrored.
Other mistake: When they show the Super Hornet ready to take off on the carrier we see lots of people standing around watching on the deck. The people are there because it is file footage of the aircraft's first carrier trials on the USS Harry S. Truman in 1998. As they bothered to CG paint over the trial markings on the plane, they could have erased the people at the same time.
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