Hollywood tends to get a lot of things wrong when it comes to making a movie since real life isn’t always as dramatic or glamorous as a director wants to make it. One would think that a fighter jet and the people the fly them would be plenty dramatic enough since it’s a big piece of machinery that needs an expert to pilot it and on top of that, doing anything in midair is going to look pretty cool. But somehow the movies still get fighter jets wrong in a lot of ways that professional pilots all over have been able to pick up on and comment about over the years since if one thing is made clear, it’s that switching things up just for a movie will get noticed by a lot of people that have likely been in various situations like those that are being depicted in the movies. When it comes to anything to do with the military one has to know that a lot of people are going to have something to say about it since a lot of folks have been there and done that, and those that have flown jets in the past will no doubt speak up.
Here are a few things that the movies get wrong about fighter jets.
5. You can definitely fly with your oxygen mask dangling off to one side. Yeah, no.
It’s possible that a fighter pilot can unclip their mask at times when they’re at a certain altitude, but it’s not typically recommended since this is how they’re receiving oxygen and it’s how they can speak to their fellow pilots and to those that are issuing the orders. So despite seeing this in the movie, which is where it’s typically used to show the actor’s face since that’s a part of what’s selling the movie, the only real time that you’ll see a pilot without their mask is going to be when they’re out of the cockpit and perhaps when it’s deemed safe enough to have it off. Otherwise it’s not as common as people think.
4. Yep, you can talk to your copilot without your mask on. If you’re shouting a full volume maybe.
Even shouting at full volume might not be possible since the inside of a jet fighter is said to be extremely noisy and trying to get people to hear you with the mask off is going to be more like shouting into the wind, with about as much success. Keeping that mask on is something that a lot of pilots are taught to do before they ever set foot in the aircraft. It’s likely that taking the mask of is frowned upon by a lot of people in this position and is something that a lot of pilots would want to avoid since it might get them into more trouble than they want.
3. There’s a lot of radio chatter. Not if people want to be understood, no.
When you think of more than a couple of people being on the comm at the same time it’s not something that sparks a lot of confidence when needing to relay orders to people. So thinking that people are going to be shouting each and every thing that’s happening during an aerial maneuver is kind of ridiculous since it would be akin to a football team where a mic has been stuck in every helmet and tuned to the same station so that everyone can hear what’s going on. Just imagine the confusion that would cause, and then think about the ramifications if everyone started chiming in at the same time.
2. A midair inversion maneuver is entirely possible. Only if you want a midair collision.
The maneuver looked absolutely awesome in Top Gun, but given the length of the tail of the aircraft it would be more likely that they would suffer a midair collision before they had to chance to make this work. A jet fighter is actually a pretty big craft when one looks at it, maybe not as big as a lot of other aircraft, but big enough that pulling off stunts like this wouldn’t be entirely possible simply because it wouldn’t work in proximity to other aircraft. It’s a nice stunt for the movies, but otherwise it’s not going to happen.
1. A jet can outrun a missile. No, not even close.
Surface to air missiles are notoriously fast since they’re designed to be faster than fighter jets in order to be efficient. A fighter jet can definitely outmaneuver a missile and possibly fool it with countermeasures, but outrunning a much lighter missile that is locked on isn’t bound to happen since it’s programmed to take down its objective and it’s usually not going to be fired until that fighter jet is within range and locked on. What that means is that a pilot has to be good enough and possibly lucky enough to outmaneuver the missile or find a way to destroy it.
Fighter jets are cool, but they do have limits.