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[[quoteright:350:[[VideoGame/AceCombat http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/rsz_airstrkimpssbl_797.jpg]]]]
[-[[caption-width-right:350:[[VideoGame/AceCombat Mobius One]], ItsUpToYou to fly down this tunnel. And [[HeroicMime don't give me lip]] about ViolationOfCommonSense.]]-]

->''"The approach will not be easy. You're required to maneuver straight down this trench and skim the surface to this point."''
-->-- '''General Jan Dodonna''', ''Franchise/StarWars Episode IV: Film/ANewHope''

The ImpossibleMission, but with {{Cool Plane}}s. Other vehicles in other mediums may be used (spaceships in space, submarines underwater, etc) if necessary. In any case, the impossibility of the mission comes from the fact that the vehicle in question is forced to operate in an environment it wasn't designed for. Instead of soaring through the open skies, the CoolPlane will be forced to maneuver through a narrow canyon; the spaceship will be in an AsteroidThicket or a near an UnrealisticBlackHole; the submarine will be forced to operate at (or beyond) its maximum diving depth. Basically, our heroes are forced to take a route that would be a bad idea at the best of times, much less under enemy fire, on a [[RaceAgainstTheClock time limit]], with dire consequences for failure. For additional entertainment, the path will often [[CollapsingLair destroy itself]] as it's being travelled.

A common form of TheClimax. Done correctly, it shows off the main character's courage, resolve, and ImprobablePilotingSkills, allows them to defeat the BigBad in one fell swoop, and provides plenty of chances for VisualEffectsOfAwesome. Rather than trying to top this, it's often best to just put it at the end of the story and wrap things up as soon as it's over.

Since ''Film/TheDamBusters'', or rather, ''Film/ANewHope'''s homage to ''The Dam Busters'' for the fight against the [[ThatsNoMoon Death Star]], there has been in increasing chance such missions will require flying though a canyon, shaft, city, or other form of trench or absurdly long and spacious corridor to reach the target.

----
!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Anime and Manga]]
* One episode of ''GundamSEEDDestiny'' features Shinn flying though a cave in the separated parts of his [[CombiningMecha Impulse Gundam]] in order to avoid Earth Alliance defenses protecting a WaveMotionGun built into a mountain, and then reassemble it once he reaches the gun itself.
* In ''Anime/SuperDimensionFortressMacross: [[TheMovie Do You Remember Love?]]'', after the allied Zentradi forces and the Macross itself have punched into [[BigBad Boddol Zer]]'s moon-sized fortress, [[AcePilot Hikaru Ichijo]] flies his [[TransformingMecha VF-1 Valkyrie]], alone and armed to the teeth, into the very heart of the installation. He must weave through {{Laser Hallway}}s, twisting corridors, and [[BeamSpam impossibly thick laser barrages]] -- all [[ThemeMusicPowerUp set to]] the movie's [[TitleDrop titular]] [[CrowningMusicOfAwesome song]] -- until reaching Boddol Zer himself... and blasting him to atoms point blank.
** ''MacrossFrontier'', A homage the ''Anime/SuperDimensionFortressMacross'' sequence at the climax where Alto must [[spoiler:destroy the [[HiveQueen Vajra Queen]]'s head, and [[BigBad Grace]] along with it]], but first he has to blast his way across the surface of an orbital ring structure and survive the onslaught of the Vajra and the [[spoiler:Galaxy Fleet]]'s assault carriers.
** In ''MacrossPlus'', for the climax of the personal conflict between Isamu and Guld, they take their grievances to each other to the streets of Macross City.
* All versions of ''{{Area 88}}'' has the base pilots flying through a canyon to evade radar and [=SAMs=] en route to an enemy base. A few of them don't make it.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* ''Film/TheDamBusters'', based on a RealLife example. Hitting a concrete dam with strategic bombers from high above was virtually impossible with 1940s technology. Hitting it from the side is child's play, but requires approaching it at almost ground (or water) level.
* ''633 Squadron'', which climaxes with a fictional assault by RAF Mosquito aircraft on a Nazi rocket fuel plant, sited at the end of a long, narrow fjord.
* ''Franchise/StarWars'':
** ''Episode IV: Film/ANewHope'', directly referencing both ''Film/TheDamBusters'' and ''633 Squadron'', only Luke's run is so difficult that the only way he was able to do was with some timely assistance by Han and Chewie eliminating his pursuers while he used The Force to hit the impossible target.
** Also done by Lando and Wedge in ''Film/ReturnOfTheJedi'', as they plunge into the depths of the Death Star to blast the core at short range, and then fly back out of the superstructure as they OutrunTheFireball. The same movie also has the speeder bike chase where hero and enemy have to maneuver through a ''very'' thick forest, functioning in much the same way as an asteroid field chase.
** Referenced in ''Film/ThePhantomMenace'', when Anakin accidentally flies his Naboo starfighter into the Trade Federation's central droid command ship, and hits something inside with a "lucky" shot that ultimately causes it to explode. The Force is with him, bigtime. Likewise, the podracing sequence constantly veers into this territory, particularly the cave segment and near the end - with close racing in a relatively slim and craggy canyon.
* ''Film/MemphisBelle'', the first B-17 crew to achieve twenty-five missions in the European theatre in WWII. Because of the propaganda needs, the crew hopes for a milk run (a propaganda drop in occupied France). Nope. They're bombing a factory (wedged between a hospital and an orphanage, of course) deep in Germany.
* ''Film/DownPeriscope'', A newly appointed submarine commander must take a renovated UsefulNotes/KoreanWar-era diesel submarine and evade the American Navy's detection to shoot mock targets in Charleston and Norfolk during a war game exercise. If that weren't hard enough, an admiral is determined to see him fail through any means necessary. Interestingly, the crew that Admiral Graham handpicks for Dodge (because he considers them unworthy of ''his'' navy) ends up being exactly what Dodge needs to win (except, maybe, Lake, as Dodge is actually just as good a diver as her but felt sorry for her).
* The climactic battle in ''IronEagleII'' requires the pilots to hit a terrorist base located inside the side of a mountain. It had a decidedly [[Film/ANewHope Death-Star-attack-esque]] feel to it.
* In the Climax of ''Film/IronMan2'', Tony plots a short but tight course through the globe at the Stark Expo to shake some of the Hammeroids on his tail. It works.
* ''Film/FlightOfTheIntruder'' features a scene where two characters infiltrate Hanoi under heavy antiaircraft fire in an attempt to destroy a missile depot. Since their bombs don't drop on the first pass, they have to do the whole thing over again.
* ''Film/DasBoot'': a Nazi German submarine is told to redeploy to the Mediterranean, which means sneaking through the narrow Gibraltar sound, which at the time was swarming with warships and planes.[[spoiler: [[FromBadToWorse It gets worse]]: since the crewmen are unaware of British radar innovations, they are detected and bombed ''outside the strait'', before they can even submerge and properly begin their approach]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* ''TheFireDream'', the protagonist and his fire direction unit have to call down a napalm strike to support the lead company of his brigade, which is being overrun by superior enemy forces. He is several miles behind their position. He cannot see either the enemy or the troops they are engaging. The enemy is almost directly adjacent to the friendly troops. And ''the planes cannot see the ground because of the bad weather''. The spotter is reduced to using dead reckoning, a stopwatch, and listening for the sounds of the plane's engines (a technique normally used in the book for guiding planes to a general area for saturation bombing) to try and drop a precision strike on the advancing enemy without hitting any friendlies, because the situation is so desperate that everyone is reduced to praying for a miracle. Fortunately, he gets one.
* The ''XWingSeries'' is generally about {{Old School Dogfight}}ing and daring commando missions, but highly improbable airstrikes have a place too. One mission has them virtually recreating the iconic Death Star mission, with a run through a canyon followed by a proton torpedo strike on a pipe embedded in the canyon wall.
** The ''XWingSeries'' even gives a name to the "maneuver through this difficult terrain in order to bypass enemy defenses" tactic. Targets destroyed by those means are said to have died of "Trench Run Disease".
* ''Literature/TheGunsOfNavarone'' begins with planes coming back from such a mission against the titular fortress. At Navarone, however, it '''was''' impossible, which is why the mountain-climbing team had to be sent in.
* A possible ''subterranean'' example in ''Literature/PerryRhodan'' would be the kidnapping of the visiting Emperor of Arkon off the planet Ertrus (occupied ''by'' said Empire at the time), which due to all the security measures aboveground necessitated the commando team in question infiltrating the area (and ducking underneath a force field) by taking an only somewhat vaguely defined route through the high-gravity planet's rather geologically active underworld...in midget chameleon submarines because the way back to the surface led straight through a geyser right in the middle of the capital.
* The climax of ''EndersGame''.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|Reimagined}}'': In one episode Apollo ends up flying through a tunnel to hit a Cylon target that was otherwise unreachable. The commentary specifically notes that this was intended to be the moment that proved Apollo had chops, by giving him something that was, on the surface, practically impossible.
** Later, in the opening arc for Season 3, Galactica circumvents a Cylon blockade around New Caprica to deploy fighters to help the resistance... by FTL-jumping in behind the lines, ''in'' the atmosphere, and essentially belly-flops down to a kilometer or so above the surface, launching fighters all the way, before jumping back out again. All the Resistance members on the ground are basically dumbstruck (along with most viewers of the show) as they watch the stunt. One of the Crowning Moments of Awesome for the series.
* ''Series/{{Airwolf}}'': Stringfellow Hawke never had to perform one of these directly; the closest he came was in "Proof through the Night", where String and Dom had to fly a weaponless Airwolf deep into the USSR to retrieve a defector and his family. However, Airwolf's ''creator'' (one Dr. Charles Henry Moffet) performs one in the pilot episode ''Shadow of the Hawke''. (Granted, it was only supposed to be a demonstration of Airwolf's capabilities... but Dr. Moffet had other ideas.)
* Hilariously parodied in ''Series/{{Firefly}}'', when Wash flies [[CoolShip Serenity]] through a canyon in an attempt to shake off a pursuer...who simply flies ''[[TakeAThirdOption above the canyon.]]''
** Wash's reaction sums it up: "I didn't think of that..."
* Done in ''Series/StargateSG1'' with a SpaceFighter, where O'Neill and Carter have to take out [[BigBad Anubis]]'s mothership's WaveMotionGun before he fires it. However, his shield is impervious to conventional weapons. They end up making a short hyperjump to bypass the shield and launch a missile at the target. [[LampshadeHanging Lampshades are hung.]]
* In one episode of ''CaptainPowerAndTheSoldiersOfTheFuture'', Pilot has to fly the main ship down an entrenchment leading to the control center for Lord Dread's [[KillSat Icarus Platform]] while Power, Tank and Scout assist her against the trench defenses on their skybikes. Pilot's job is to blow the doors of the control center using a proton missile so that Power and crew can get inside and blow the platform before it can be used to digitize a whole lot of people.
* ''Series/{{JAG}}'': In the PilotMovie, Captain Boone, flies a reconnaissance mission in an F-14 Tomcat twice on very low altitude over Bosnia. On the second run heís hit by AA fire, but backseat rider Harm (who hasnít flown himself for five years) manages to land it sound and safe on the carrier.
* The ''Series/{{Nova}}'' episode [[http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/military/bombing-hitler-dams.html "Bombing Hitler's Dams"]] profiles Operation Chastise (see RealLife, below) at the same time as it follows a real life team trying to recreate the raid in British Columbia. Of course, dropping actual explosives from civilian aircraft is illegal, so they dropped a dummy bomb and then blew the dam up remotely after hitting it.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* The ''AceCombat'' series is in ''love'' with this. There are several commonly used variations:
** [[OnceAnEpisode At least once per game]] (with the exception of ''Assault Horizon''), you will fly through a tunnel, bunker, or some other underground structure in order to destroy something inside, usually the last or second to last mission.
** Another popular type is a mission in an area with obscene amounts of anti-air firepower, requiring you to fly through a canyon (complete with ground strikes and ''dogfighting'' inside the canyon itself) to avoid the AA. Fly out of the canyon and you get hit by a swarm of missiles from all directions.
*** ''Unsung War/Squadron Leader'' did this best: you are attacked by a wing of the Yuke counterparts of the squad that has been plaguing you all game, flying [[CoolPlane Sukhoi Su-37s]] and outnumbering you 4-3. The canyon is particularly low in this instance (although it's rather lenient with its anti-air, as it simply causes an automatic missile lock and fire which can be evaded like any other missile), and much of the EnemyChatter (and your chatter) is devoted to how insane the skills going around are.
*** Not completely related, but ''[[AceCombatJointAssault Joint Assault]]'' have you do a canyon run in a [[spoiler:''Boeing 747-200'', which is completely unarmed and have ridiculously heavy controls, and the game exploits this by telling you to fly under a bridge]].
** ''Ace Combat 6'' had a particularly ludicrous example: during the final mission (''after'' the standard "fly underground to destroy something" bit), you have to fly down the barrel of a giant railgun ''as it's firing''. Time it wrong and you get vaporized by the shot.
*** That can be made easier, however. [[spoiler: The shells that the gun fires can be targetted and destroyed before being loaded. Do that, and you'll have a much longer opening between shots to make your run.]]
** A more recent trend is where you have to avoid pockets of enemy radar in an attempt to slip into an area undetected.
%% Please be careful about adding natter in the Ace Combat examples. We know they do a lot of Airstriking Impossible, but there's no need to add examples and commentary for nigh-identical canyon/tunnel/bunker run missions from each individual game in the series.
* ''VideoGame/AfterBurner Climax'' is similar to ''AceCombat'', but deserves mention for the times the enemy uses FrickinLaserBeams as "tripwires" to damage your plane with.
* ''VideoGame/WarThunder'' offers a couple maps in which the enemy has a naval task force hidden in a fjord. The targets are entirely optional, but if a player is going for the big payoff by taking out a surface ship, he'll need to fly down the fjord in a bomber, dodging flak from ships and shore, and praying that the enemy fighters stay distracted long enough for him to drop his bombs or torpedo.
* ''CrimsonSkies: High Road to Revenge'' involves flying through ''two'' zeppelin-eating grinder machines to take out their power cells, before diving ''into a giant rotor'' to blow up more of them. In order to prevent it from using its weather control weapon from leveling Chicago. Hey, RuleOfCool.
* In ''VideoGame/StarFox'', several missions could be considered this.
** The mission "The Space Armada" in the original SNES game has you flying through a battleship's interior in order to destroy its core.
** The "Venom Core" missions have you flying through the conduit leading to Andross' inner chambers. The "Venom Surface" mission in the second route, additionally, pulls you through a very highway path with a roof and a wall to the right, so the only opening is to the left.
** ''VideoGame/StarFox64'''s penultimate boss fight on easy-mode Venom, where you chase a HumongousMecha enemy through an imposing stone structure of some kind as he flings obstacles in your path, comes to mind.
** ''VideoGame/StarFoxAssault'''s final mission has you flying into the core of the Aparoid home world, where the Aparoid Queen waits for you. The mission isn't actually all that difficult, however, given that it's a fairly wide tunnel and the enemies all approach from the front.
** Any mission on Solar, which has the team flying far too close to either a really hot gas giant or a fairly cold star.
* In ''RogueSquadron 2'', the last mission in the regular campaign is practically impossible. Based on the attack on the Death Star in ReturnOfTheJedi (above), it's not only AirstrikeImpossible but adds components of an escort mission. Naturally, high-speed flight down winding tunnels, [[ZergRush mooks-a-licious]] and [[CollapsingLair getting out before]] it [[OutrunTheFireball all goes boom]] are all featured.
* ''Franchise/StarWars Episode I: Starfighter'', the ''training mission'' falls into the trench category of AirstrikeImpossible, thanks to an [[InvisibleWall invisible ceiling]] keeping the player inside a wing-scrapingly narrow canyon. The self-same canyon (complete with ceiling) is reprised in an escort mission filled with Trade Federation baddies to make ThatOneLevel. Interestingly, while ''tunnel fighting'' appears in the final level (attacking a Fed Battleship), side-tunnels actually provide time to hide and recharge shields, hence subverting the trope into a tactical advantage.
* ''VideoGame/XWing'', the player is ''encouraged'' to fly down the trench (they get an arbitrary speed boost given only within the trench), but you can just as easily ignore the trench entirely and dive-bomb the target if you prefer.
* ''SecretWeaponsOverNormandy'', at least in the dambusting mission, which is of reasonable difficulty. Later missions tread a jot into AirstrikeImpossible territory, though.
* ''StrikeGunner'', the final level one-ups the typical Shmup by including dead ends. Thank god the rest of the game is kinda easy, but still, it's hell if the final two bosses managed to clip a few lives from you. The final trench run has killed more than its share of one credit runs.
* ''AirForceDelta'', as Konami's answer to Ace Combat, of course has to attempt to one-up it at every opportunity, but the original takes the cake by being an homage to UN Squadron of all things. A cavern, strewn with girders, with the target on the ''ceiling''.
** AirForceDelta Strike takes this UpToEleven with one of these about every other mission, including several canyon-runs, an ''entire mission'' taking place in a subway tunnel, an attack run down a giant railgun barrel ''three times'' in one mission, diving into tornado funnel clouds, ...you get the idea
* ''Tom Clancy's {{HAWX}}'' had an entire level based around three such airstrikes. If you deviate from the course the game sets you up with at all, you'll be targeted by a buttload of SAM batteries and most likely killed.
** The sequel had a slightly more classic example in its last mission: after [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome shooting down nukes]] [[CrazyAwesome while dodging]] FrickinLaserBeams from a ''KillSat'', you deliver the last blow to the enemy stronghold by flying into the bunker through a narrow tunnel and detonating a bomb inside of it.
* ''VideoGame/FreeSpace''
** A fanmade Vasudan installation (the GVI Karnak) includes destructible doors and a hollow superstructure, specifically to allow this trope to be pulled off. The campaign ''VideoGame/SilentThreatReborn'' plays with it by having an enemy fighter attempt to do this, with the player having to fly inside to ''defend'' the station's reactor. Far from being a ScrappyMechanic, most players consider this [[BestLevelEver totally awesome]].
** Several more mods have gone this route: the [[VideoGame/DimensionalEclipse Star Fortress]] ''Amaterasu'' and the [[VideoGame/WingsOfDawn Hertak Flagship]] both have hollow areas on the interior that a pilot can exploit to blow up their weakpoints. There have also been several hollow asteroid models for use as installations.
** Note that ''[=FreeSpace=]'' fighters are ''far'' slower and easier to maneuver in the tunnels than, say, ''VideoGame/AceCombat'' planes.
* ''BlueLightning'' has a mission where you fly through a set of narrow canyons to take out enemy bases, complete with an [[InvisibleWall invisible ceiling]] keeping you near ground level.
* ''VideoGame/WingCommander III'', The final mission was supposed to be this, with staying in the canyons on the way to the fault target to avoid attracting the attention of infinitely respawning Ekapshii, but a glitch in the transition from the space leg of the mission to the atmosphere leg allowed the "one time" cloak to be used again, making it trivially easy to get there, by cloaking and flying above the mountains in a straight line.
* In the video game adaptation of ''Airwolf'', the ''whole game'' was like this.
* While it is a side-scrolling shump, the ''{{Area 88}}'' game (UN Squadron in the United States) has the player fly into canyons and caves for a few missions.
* The suicide mission to Ilos in ''VideoGame/{{Mass Effect|1}}'' has a particularly spectacular version. Joker, an AcePilot that came across as arrogant the entire game (he straight up says he is the best human pilot, period) proves his skill here. Flying a frigate in a near vertical dive, straight at a small clearing of 20 meters (one-fifth of the minimum for such a drop), pulling up at the last second to fling the Mako--with your commando team inside--straight at TheDragon. The blast doors close, and the Mako pulls to a stop...five feet from the doors. To put this in perspective, Saren was always one step ahead of you, mocking you each time, and at this moment, he has a brief OhCrap moment at seeing a combat drop flung at him from nowhere.
* The Suicide Mission in ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'' is mostly a commando operation, but Joker's insertion operation has shades of this while engaging in a dogfight with enemy constructs a fiftieth the size of the Normandy in a field full of the debris of every spacecraft that has tried to make it through the Omega-4 Relay in the entirety of galactic history and blowing up a cruiser-sized vessel [[spoiler:(the same one that destroyed the original Normandy)]] equipped by the Reapers with a scout frigate.
* The FullMotionVideo game ''SewerShark'' is based entirely around this premise.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Scramble}}'', the player had to do this after getting through the enemy base and navigating a maze of DeadlyWalls.
* ''Star Strike'' for the UsefulNotes/{{Intellivision}} and UsefulNotes/{{Atari 2600}} had the player flying down a Death Star-like trench to bomb five missiles poised to [[EarthShatteringKaboom destroy Earth]].
* In ''VideoGame/HaloCombatEvolved'', the mission where the Master Chief goes to find Halo's control center has an example when Foehammer flies you within walking distance of your objective.
--> '''Foehammer:''' I hope your analysis is on the money, Cortana. This Pelican won't turn on a dime.\\
'''Cortana:''' Look on the bright side, Foehammer. The last thing the Covenant will expect is an aerial insertion from underground.
** ''{{VideoGame/Halo 4}}'' one-ups that with the final mission, which starts with Master Chief taking a Broadsword fighter through the outer hull of the Didact's flagship as it makes its way to Earth via slipspace...
* ''F/A-18 Hornet'' has a few missions like this. One of the finale missions, "Pull the Plug", has you fly through a river valley to avoid bombardment by SAM's, then [[NukeEm take out a dam with a nuke]]. In one of the ExpansionPack missions, "Neighbors", you have to bomb a nuclear missile launch silo at very low altitude, which [[ArtisticLicenseNuclearPhysics detonates the warheads as well]].
* ''VideoGame/{{Battle Pirates}}'' recently introduced a set of single-player campaigns, the first four of which introduce the player to certain basic tactics. One of these focuses on the use of fast ships and short-range weapons to exploit the minimum firing range of certain long-range defensive turrets; appropriately enough, this campaign is called "Run The Trench".
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Western Animation]]
* ''CaptainPowerAndTheSoldiersOfTheFuture'', a series of animated videos were pretty much all this, each complete with a corridor run of varying levels of justification.
** The live-action series itself plays the trope during the "Project New Order" arc. Power and his team discover that the newly launched Icarus weapon platform will digitize many people and that the ''Prometheus'' plasma generators will incinerate the East Coast, so they decide to blow up the Icarus platform and send it crashing into the Prometheus main power generator on Volcania via an homage to the ''Franchise/StarWars'' trench run, in which Pilot has to fly the main ship down an entrenchment leading to Icarus Control and blow the doors using a proton missile while Power, Tank and Scout provide cover for her from their skybikes against the trench defenses. As bonus, the ending credits for every episode flew through this same path, but without any interference from the characters, so that the audience could play along with the [[MerchandiseDriven interactive toys]].
* ''DuckDodgers'' Subverted and Lampshaded, where Dodgers tries to make a Trench Run to take out Marvin the Martian's new Dreadnought, while Marvin calmly aims a laser cannon at him and wonders how many fools die trying to recreate that scene.
* In the ''JusticeLeagueUnlimited'' episode "Far From Home", Brainac 5's spaceship performs a Trench Run maneuver to ram the hangar doors of the Fatal Five's baseship.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* The German battleship ''Tirpitz'', like her sister ship ''Bismarck'', had proven to be very difficult to sink, due in large part to the Germans harboring her in fjords which presented many natural protections against sea and air attack, in addition to the use of AntiAir defenses and torpedo nets. Even repeated raids using six-ton [[BigBulkyBomb Tallboy]] bombs had failed to do fatal damage (though one bomb had traveled through the ship before detonating in the seabed below, crippling the ship for a time. The third attempt to use Tallboys against ''Tirpitz'', ([[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Catechism Operation Catechism]]), involved dropping [[NoKillLikeOverKill twenty-nine]] Tallboys over the target. They scored two hits and one near miss, and several of the other misses destroyed the sandbank and torpedo nets which had been built up to help protect the ship. ''Tirpitz'' finally met her end with one last internal explosion (blowing one of the turrets off the ship) before she capsized in the fjord.
* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Tidal_Wave Operation Tidal Wave]] was the low level attack against the Ploiești oil refineries in the Mediterranean Theatre of World War II. The extremely low altitude resulted in gunners directly engaging anti-aircraft batteries and pilots having to maneuver over fence lines and haystacks. The mission was a failure, with massive losses among the Allies for little damage done to the facilities, but it resulted in no fewer than 5 Medals of Honor being awarded.
* The events in [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MiG_Alley MiG Alley]] also served as inspiration for canyon runs (certainly for the one in ''Film/{{Firefox}}'', if not ''Star Wars''), since a plane in pursuit often took damage from the dust kicked up by the running plane, aiding evasion, and that region of North Korea is lousy with convenient canyons.
* In 1981 the [[BadassIsraeli Israeli Air Force]] pulled off an impossible mission in [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Opera Operation Opera]], the long range attack on Iraq's nuclear reactor. A force of heavily laden F-16's and F-15's traveled across Jordan and Saudi Arabia at altitudes as low as 30 meters before popping up to completely destroy the reactor complex. Ground defenses were taken completely by surprise and not a single Israeli aircraft was damaged.
** The Israeli Air Force conducted an encore against Syria in 2007's [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Orchard Operation Orchard]], where they destroyed what is now suspected to be a covert nuclear reactor (never mind that the operation doesn't officially exist).
** [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Focus Operation Focus]] was the opening series of air strikes that Israel used to preempt an Arab invasion and win what came to be known as the Six Day War. The attack made use of almost the entire Israeli Air Force with only a handful of planes left in reserve to defend its home airspace and comprised a go-for-broke gamble to disable the air forces of its enemies to pave the way for an Israeli ground strike. Preceded by detailed planning and practice to, especially in the area of quick turning its strike aircraft to make followup sorties, Operation Focus achieved complete surprised and by noon, the Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian Air Forces, with 452 aircraft, were completely destroyed.
** And then there's Ran Ronen, an Israeli Air Force ace who in 1966 engaged in a dogfight with Jordanian aircraft and chased one into a canyon, eventually shooting it down and making it out unscathed. He later said the Jordanian pilot was one of the best he had ever fought.
* 1965 India-Pakistan War. The Pakistan Air Force converted the C-130 Hercules transport planes, known (and not affectionately) as "buses" or "trucks" and [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_C-130_Hercules#cite_note-pakdef-16 used them to bombard Indian positions]]. And no plane was lost.
** Not an air-strike (usually) but Pakistani (and Indian) operations in Siachen, routinely flying helicopters at altitudes of 22 thousand feet or more through the highest mountains in the world. And did I state that the altitude is more then 10,000 feet above the normal operating ceiling of the aircraft?
* The famous RAF Dambusters [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Chastise Operation Chastise]] mission involved flying big, lumbering strategic bombers so low over the target dam reservoirs that the German AA guns couldn't depress enough to fire at them. They were in fact flying so insanely low that at least one of the bombers had to abort the mission because it took damage from ''clipping a tree''. Not surprisingly, it was that unit which later attacked the ''Tirpitz''.
* During the first deployment of the F-22 at Red Flag, the U.S. Air Force's largest air war exercise, the single squadron operating it was effortlessly curbstomping everyone. At one point, out of desperation, the Red Flag AcePilots mounted a run through a canyon at night in an attempt to ambush the F-22s. Didn't work, as the F-22s still managed to pick them up, but an impressive attempt nontheless.
* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Jericho Operation Jericho]]. What do you do if you learn the [[SecretPolice Gestapo]] have captured some of the leaders of LaResistance, are holding them in Amiens prison, and are going to execute them in the morning? Well how about sending a flight to bomb the guardhouse and blow holes in the walls - without hitting the cell blocks - so the prisoners can escape. All done at low level, in broad daylight and with unguided bombs to boot.
** Perhaps making this even more of a CrowningMomentOfAwesome for the crew of the bombers were the fact that the officer in charge of the operation had no prior experience in low-level attacks, and - more to the spirit of the trope - the bombers had to attack in ''bad weather''.
* This was the basic mission of the Blackburn TB. It stands as the most highly-specialized aircraft in history, and also one of the most spectacularly awful aircraft ever built. It was a twin-fuselage long-range [[ZeppelinsFromAnotherWorld anti-Zeppelin]] floatplane. [[TheAllegedCar Allegedly.]] The Blackburn TB had a maximum speed of 85 mph, which is ''slower than some [[CoolAirship Zeppelins.]]'' Compounding the TB's difficulties was the sheer impracticality of its means of attack: it was unarmed, save a mere 60 pounds of exploding ''darts,'' of all things, and had to climb over the Zeppelin, somehow evading its anti-air guns, and drop them on top of it. Which is somewhat difficult, considering that Zeppelins flew at nearly ''four times the TB's maximum altitude.'' The 9 TB fighters built never so much as CAUGHT a Zeppelin, much less destroyed one. So for the Blackburn, it really WAS an AirstrikeImpossible.
* [[UsefulNotes/WorldWarII December 7th, 1941]]: The Japanese military attacks American bases in Hawaii ([[AndZoidberg The Philippine Islands were also attacked that day]]), [[SittingDucks catching the defenders by surprise]] and causing widespread damage. The Americans thought that Hawaii was too distant from Japanese bases to be vulnerable to attack, and assumed that the assault would focus on the Philippines. The Americans would lose over 2,400 men, with 19 ships sunk or damaged in the battle and nearly 200 aircraft destroyed. Military thought at the time believed land based aircraft would almost always defeat carrier aircraft, making such an attack very risky.
** Also a bit of a subversion: Pearl Harbor was thought too shallow for torpedoes, despite the existence of such torpedoes in the hands of the British.
* During UsefulNotes/WorldWarII, one of the earliest major Allied victories in the Pacific was the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doolittle_Raid Doolittle Raid]], named for the commander, Colonel Jimmy Doolittle. To pull the raid off, they had to strip any excess weight from a group of twin-engined B-25 Mitchell bombers and launch them from an aircraft carrier that was ''barely'' long enough to actually get the planes airborne, all so they could drop a few firebombs on Japanese cities and make the Japanese think they were at greater risk of attack than they actually were. Most of the planes [[OneWayTrip ended up ditching in China or crashing in the sea]], with only a few landing successfully at airfields in China and Russia.
* When Argentina landed forces on the British-controlled Falkland Islands in 1982, the nearest British ships were weeks away; plenty of time for the Argentine forces to dig in on the Falkland Islands. Even with in-air refueling, the distance from the nearest British airfield to the Falklands exceeded the maximum operational range of the best British bomber aircraft several times over. But there's nothing stopping you from refueling the tanker aircraft in-air. or refueling the tanker aircraft refueling the tanker aircraft in air. Or refueling the tanker aircraft refueling the tanker aircraft refueling the... you get the picture. The end result was that ''eleven'' 'Victor' tanker aircraft were used to bring a single 'Vulcan' bomber from Ascension Island (off the western coast of Africa) to the Falkland Islands and back again. The 'Victor', which had three pilots in the two-man cockpit, was refueled four times on the approach and one more on the return. It held the record for the longest-distance bombing-run until 1991.
* Torpedo bombing in general. Early air-launched torpedoes required the bomber to fly at low altitude and low speed to properly lay in their attacks, all while enemy AntiAir gunners and fighters did their damndest to shoot them down. And once you released the torpedo, there was no guarantee that it wouldn't malfunction, sinking into the water, drifting off target, or even [[EpicFail striking the target directly and failing to detonate at all.]] Torpedo designs were improved considerably by the end of the war, but the days of dedicated torpedo bombers were numbered with the introduction of the first anti-ship missiles in 1944.
** To emphasize the difficulty of torpedo bombing, at the Battle of Midway four American squadrons (three Navy, and one Army) launched torpedo attacks on the Japanese carriers. Not a single American air-launched torpedo struck its target that day. The three Navy squadrons were savaged by Japanese defenders, with Torpedo 8 being almost entirely wiped out[[note]]The Army squadron escaped relatively unharmed, but failed to hit any of their targets[[/note]]. Ultimately the Japanese carriers were destroyed by American dive bombers, which had the good timing and luck to press their attacks while the Japanese were [[MadeOfExplodium arming and fueling their planes]] for their first attempt at sinking the American fleet.

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