Aircraft, air combat, aviation technology, pilot procedures and airport operations in general are often depicted with uninhibited, criminal negligence in media. As with many technical fields and sciences, these deplorably delinquent acts against aviation are usually only noticed by those that work in aviation in some capacity, or have an expressed interest and knowledge about it—but don't worry, most of us will tell you in long tirades exactly where that show got it wrong.
Several factors conspire to vex aviation fans:
Cost and Availability of Aircraft: Sure, scoring a four-seater Cherokee or Cessna might be as easy as walking down to the nearest airfield and saying "Who wants to be in a movie?", but larger or older aircraft, especially World War II era, are expensive, rare, and require special care and insurance. Before the advent of CG, most movie makers resorted to modifying or painting more commonly-available training aircraft to play the part of warbirds in movies (see Weapons Understudies). Availability can also be affected by the period during which the work was filmed—it's not like the Air Force was just gonna give you the keys to their high-altitude spy planes during the Cold War. (The Soviets certainly weren't going to let you touch theirs.) As such, many films rely heavily on Stock Footage.
Viewers Are Morons: As previously stated, most people won't be able to tell the difference between different aircraft types, or don't care. The only commercial aircraft that anyone in the audience can reasonably be expected to recognize is the Boeing 747, which (especially in older films and shows) tends to go to glamorous faraway places; other commercial aircraft are relatively interchangeable, and more likely to be headed somewhere pedestrian. Most of the time, the number of engines, wing configuration, or manufacturer won't even have to match what the actors are calling it—what airplane was in the background shot is not something most viewers are going to question (or are going to care to question).
On shows that do focus on aviation heavily or primarily, all aspects of aviation, especially aerodynamics, can and will take a backseat to:
Most of the times, they just don't care. This is more evident in illustrated or animated media, where aircraft are depicted with unspeakable levels of carelessness and thoughtlessness—even when everything else is depicted in a realistic and accurate manner.
Finally, the most egregious offenses committed towards aviation, like everything else, comes from not doing the research. Cable News, with their need to report on any incident or accident as quickly as possible for the first scoop, will invariably use information gleaned from the most misinformed and unreliable sources and witnesses. This "information" is of course then exaggerated and spun to grab the audience, resulting in reports of 600 dead from a 25-passenger commuter aircraft, or cameras following a plane with a damaged landing gear, in the hopes of catching a fireball barreling down the runway. Other examples comes from doing half the research, and just shooting off aviation terms to sound technical.
Any aircraft with one engine and two or four seats is a Cessna according to the news, regardless of its actual manufacturer, although this may have a lot to do with Popcultural Osmosis, in the same way that a vacuum cleaner is always referred to as a "hoover" in the UK, for instance.
Both the Top Gun and MacGyver examples are understandable in that few US planes would have been easily obtainable with two tails (namely, the F-15 and F/A-18: both examples above have the good guy aircraft being an F-14, so that one's out), and an entertainment studio getting their hands on an actual MiG, or for that matter any Soviet fighter aircraft of any designation, during the Cold War era would have been completely impossible.
Another example of this is the Korean War-era film The Hunters, which uses repainted F-84 Thunderstreaks as "MiGs" for the good guys' F-86 Sabres to fight. Of course, F-84s fought real MiGs during the war.
This also includes Russian helicopters. In a number of action movies filmed during the 80's, standard NATO-issue or civilian helicopters were modeled to look like Soviet helicopters, typically to look like Mi-24 "Hind" helicopters by adding wings with hardpoints and various bits and bobs. On occasion, they didn't even go that far, just slapping a red star decal on an unmodified Western-made helicopter.
Just at the edge of this trope's umbrella: all manner of 1950s Science Fiction serials featured craft of various descriptions, played by footage of a WWII V-2 missile, of which quite a bit of stock footage abounds.
Many World War II movies found the need to use substitutes for aircraft such as Messerschmitt 109s and Mitsubishi Zeroes, due to the simple fact that most of them got destroyed in the war. That the Ejército del Aire was equipped with German and Italian aircraft during the Spanish Civil War and continued to operate them after the war was a boon for film-makers.
The role of the Messerschmitt Bf-109 was played in several movies by the Messerschmitt Bf-108 Taifun which was designed as a recreational aircraft but became a military trainer. They were easier to find (and were still produced in France after the war) and looked similar since some aspects of the fighter were even based off of the Bf-108.
In "brevity code" (NATO pilot speak) "bogeys" are unidentified aircraft. Hostiles are "bandits".
Any large military transport aircraft tends to automatically be referred to as a Hercules. Even if it's a 4-engined transport JET.
The Red Baron's red Fokker triplane is so iconic because it was already rare and he was the only person who painted his bright red. This fails to stop stories set in WW1 from using them as the standard German plane(extremely bad in Flyboys).
While the Fokker Triplane was iconic, the entire Flying Circus was operating them at the time, having been one of the first squadrons to operate the type. In fact the Fokker Dr1 was in widespread service in the spring of 1918 when Richthofen was killed and 320 were built before production ended due to their annoying habit of having Wing Failures.
Also, the origin of the name "Flying Circus" and garish color scheme not just of the Red Baron's plane but all of the planes in the squadron, was due to a bit of rebellion against authority... an order had come down that aircraft should be camouflaged to disguise their shape/size/configuration etc. but did not specify colors nor that any attempt should be made to have them blend in with the sky or ground (depending on an enemy's vantage point). So as to follow the letter of the order without trying to "hide" the planes (which would be unchivalrous), the bright colors and wild patterns were applied, with no two planes being painted alike. Someone commented that they looked like a circus, and the name was born.
The name "Circus" later came to be used by British pilots to refer to any German squadron - in the early Biggles stories, written by a World War I pilot, pilots talk of "so-and-so's circus" having moved in across the lines.
In reality, a plane that loses power retains its aerodynamic properties and momentum and can be guided down to an emergency landing if the pilot doesn't manage to restart the engines. In fiction, a plane that loses power instantly slows to zero speed and plummets.
Even something as sizeable and lumbering as a commercial passenger jet can glide for several dozen miles (Air Transat Flight 236 managed unpowered flight for over 100 miles before making an emergency landing - there were no fatalities) before having to crash-land, and a skilled pilot can crash-land a plane without it exploding into an explosive fiery fireball explosion of flaming exploding death.
Many media, such as Fight Club and LOST, depict people in passenger jets (in coach) getting up from the window seats sliding past the person in the aisle seat (with feet still on the ground), while the person in the aisle seat continues to sit. In contemporary passenger jets, there is nowhere near enough space for even the skinniest people to do that in coach.
In Fight Club, the start of the scene in question makes it clear that Tyler and the Narrator are seated in an emergency exit row. Plus, Tyler's not real, so he can do whatever he wants.
An airplane that loses a wing as the result of an accident or combat will roll towards the absent wing. Both wings produce lift; if one disappears, the assymetric forces will cause this rotation. Now that you know this you will never be able to watch King Kong, Flyboys, Pearl Harbor, or any other movie with CGI air combat sequences again without cringing.
Blimps and airships in general are uncommon aircraft, which compounds the utter confusion Hollywood seems to have about them. Unlike an elastic balloon, a blimp simply does not pop if you shoot it or poke a hole in it. The gas inside is barely under any pressure, if it is pressurized at all. Disturbingly, the Goodyear Blimps get shot full of holes all the time (the tiny leaks are so minor they're usually only discovered during maintenance), by yahoos who think that it will pop. Also, all modern blimps use inert Helium or hot air instead of explosive Hydrogen, specifically to avoid a repeat of the Hindenburg disaster. Even airships and balloons that used flammable hydrogen were notoriously difficult to shoot down because while the airships were full of hydrogen, they didn't contain any of the oxygen needed to ignite it, which meant explosions were extraordinarily rare (Hindenberg's fiery destruction is infamous because it was so unusual). Many a hydrogen-powered airship was able to limp back to friendly territory and land even after being shot up by Allied pilots.
Combat between aircraft is often depicted in fiction as taking place within a spitting distance of each other. In reality, the aircraft are generally several miles apart. Even worse, most missiles wouldn't work at the insanely close range depicted by Hollywood. The short-distance missile that most U.S. fighter jets use is the Sidewinder, which still has a minimum range of 0.6 miles. That's right: Their "emergency shotgun" close-distance weapon is still only good at more than a half-mile away.note Most modern fighters have a gun, which operates when the range is too close for missiles
Anime & Manga
In Vividred Operation, the F-35 Lightning IIs shown are carrier launched, meaning they are the Navy C variant. However, they also appear to have an internal gun, which only the Air Force A variant has. They are also seen trying to attack ground targets with AMRAAMs rather than Harpoon missiles or laser guided bombs. Also, the military tries attacking ground targets with F-22 Raptors, despite the fact that F-22s are not designed for a ground attack role and can only carry GPS-guided bombs.
Aldnoah.Zero has an F-22 squadron scrambled in the second episode to attack a Vers Landing Castle. Considering this is a two-kilometer long spaceship/space station that has planted itself firmly in the ground, this is not exactly a job well-suited for the Raptor. In contrast, the same episode later shows a more accurate scenario for the F-22 when a second squadron engages a Vers aircraft transporting a Martian Kataphrakt. The F-22s in this scene initially engage at BVR (beyond visual range) by correctly launching missiles * Although it's still not as far as they would engage in real life, but we might be able to chalk this up to the fact that the Martians have disrupted Earth's communications and satellites and have a powerful ECM network from an internal missile bay. When the Martian craft closes in to "knife-fight" range with them, they use a starboard-mounted Vulcan cannon. The last F-22 that gets its left wing blown off even rolls toward the missing wing.
A possibly deliberate example: a "The Broonites" cartoon in Private Eye has Gordon Brown being packed off to Afghanistan in an English Electric Lightning as a passenger. The Lightning is long-retired and the one shown is a one-seater. This may well be a jibe at poor British military equipment. The Lightning was also a (very) short-range fighter.
An issue of one of DC's Superman titles had the hero flying escort for an American aircraft that was supposedly taking a captured political leader to stand trial. However, rather than the cargo/passenger plane of whatever size that might have been expected, the aircraft in question was a single-seat F-16.
The ''X-Men's modified Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird has an interior that — depending on the artist — looks as large as a fair-sized business jet, easily accommodating seats for five to ten X-Men. The real SR-71 Blackbird is a two-seater, with most of the fuselage presumably given over to fuel tanks and electronics. The X-Men also routinely launch their Blackbird straight up like a rocket from a secret hanger under A SCHOOL in upstate New York. And the neighbours never seem to notice or complain to the FAA about the sonic booms.
The Avengers Quinjets (presumably named for the five jet or rocket or ramscoop or Applied Phlebotinum engines in the rear) can get away with more, because they're not even marginally based on a real airframe. Nor, depending on the artist, even a consistent design from issue to issue. Like the X-Men's SR-71, the Quinjets can blast off from beneath Avengers Mansion in midtown Manhattan without disturbing the neighbours or shattering the glass of every skyscraper in a 20 block radius. According to Tony Stark in the Avengers: Earth Mightiest Heroes animated series, despite having the aerodynamic characteristics of a Keurig coffeemaker, they can fly at Mach 8, operate underwater (in the animated version they actually launch via an underwater launch tube that leads to the the East River) and even fly in space. And, apparently, their Applied Phlebotnium engines never seem to need refueling. Maybe that's how the X-Men's SR-71 can hold so many people. And despite having the airframe equivalent of mutant superpowers, we're informed by the same Avengers: Earth Mightiest Heroes animated series that they only cost $20 million apiece, less than the $27 million sticker price of a Bombardier Q400 turboprop passenger plane.
The first chapter of In This World and the Next describes a jumbo jet flying at fifty thousand feet. This might be Artistic License, but still, 747s almost always fly between thirty and forty thousand feet and never above their service ceiling of 41,000.
The US built F-5E Tiger II stood in for MiGs, just as various models of Sikorsky helicopters with wings stuck on have had to stand in for Soviet/Russian Mi-24 "Hind" gunships. And the aircraft was called a MiG-28—no such bird existsnote Mikoyan have always built fighters. Back in the Cold War days, in addition to indicating the design bureau ("MiG", "Su", "Tu", "Yak", etc.), Soviet designations made the distinction between fighters and other aircraft; odd numbers were fighters, even ones bombers and everything else (though with specialized ground attack aircraft, the difference did get fuzzy at times). So there was a MiG-27 and a MiG-29, but no -28.
A pilot uses the missile release button on his control stick to fire his guns.
In the climactic dogfight, Iceman is hit twice by enemy fighter's cannonfire, both times leaving a short, neat line of holes in his plane. In reality, fighter cannons fire in bursts of 100 rounds or so to facilitate use in high-speed engagements. A solid hit to the fuselage as depicted, let alone two, would almost certainly have destroyed Iceman's plane.
Most of the school/practice battles in Top Gun have planes within rock-throwing distance of each other, an astoundingly unsafe situation as well as being too close for missiles, sensors, guns, and engines to work any more. The plot-crucial engine flameout should've happened about twenty times before it did. Remember that your plane's engine(s) can't breathe exhaust any better than you can.
The A-4 Skyhawks flown by the Top Gun trainers like Viper and Jester are described as being faster than the F-14s flown by the students. The A-4 was a subsonic ground attack plane first flown in 1954. Even the later variants produced by the time of the film were incapable of supersonic flight. The Tomcat has a maximum speed of ~Mach 2.3. They also have much lower thrust to weight ratios than the F-14 as well and thus lower acceleration as well.
To say pilot chatter in the final battle is laughably inaccurate would be an understatement.
The titular presidential 747 features an Escape Pod, something that the real plane used as Air Force One does not, and could not possibly, have. President Clinton is said to have commented on that inaccuracy when watching the movie.
One scene featured some F-15s switching on their afterburners. This caused these fighter jets to instantly jump from subsonic speeds to Mach 2, like Han Solo turning on the hyperdrive. Real afterburners simply provide a greater force of thrust, allowing the aircraft to smoothly accelerate past the compressibility range until it attains a supersonic airspeed—they don't cause Newton's 2nd Law of Motion to be temporarily suspended.
Also regarding the Eagles, they repeatedly get missile locks with the Sparrow and AMRAAM radar-homing missiles at ranges far too close for the missile to guide properly. This doesn't apply to the enemy Mig-29 Fulcrums, because they were firing infra-red homing AA-8 "Aphid" and AA-10 "Alamo-B" missiles at AF1. They were just about at the known minimum distance for those missiles.
When AF1 charges through Ramstein AFB after the failed landing attempt, it not only wouldn't have gotten back in the air, it would have been torn apart by the overstressing of the landing gear and wings. 747s, especially E-4s, are tough, but they're not that tough.
When the refueling attempt results in a fire involving the KC-10's "flying boom", it would not cause the Extender to explode. They have fuel cutoffs and fire-suppression equipment built into the refueling system to prevent just such an accident. In fact, it's been standard on all USAF tankers since the midair collision between the KC-135 and B-52 that dropped five (still-safed) H-bombs around Palomares, Spain in 1965. That accident began when the two aircraft "bumped" during an in-flight refueling exercise. The Air Force tries not to make the same mistake twice.
Lampshaded in the parody movie Airplane! where the titular jet is accompanied by a propeller sound effect which is both incongruous and a Shout-Out to Zero Hour, the B-movie it was based on.
The first movie has a scene in which a motorbike races against a Cessna 152 which obviously has full flap deployed and the throttle almost closed. Given that the Cessna cruises at around 107 knots, almost 200 km/h, this was necessary to make the contest look even remotely fair.
In Iron Eagle II, one of the heroes hears planes approaching, starts screaming and yelling "...they're goddamned Soviet Migs!" and runs out onto the tarmac—to look at a flight of F-4 Phantom IIs, one of the most distinctive American designs out there.
The F-4's in Iron Eagle II were playing MiG-29's (which were identified as such at the beginning of the movie), which would have been impossible to procure. Nevertheless the differences were glaring from the side and rear (MiG-29's were twin tailed while F-4's were single tailed), but perhaps from the front they looked similar enough to justify their use (i.e. the droopy nose and twin intakesnote ignore the very different shape and placement of said intakes). Presumably renting a few F-18s, which from many angles look very nearly identical to the MiG-29, was beyond their budget. And don't forget the first Iron Eagle movie which has Kfirs play as MiG-23's, a more glaring error (since MiG-23s were swing-wing, whereas Kfirs were delta-wing). This gets noteworthy when you consider that some Real Life Arab nations operated Mirage V delta fighters, visually almost indiscernible from the IAI Kfir. Why not the Bilyan Air Force?
In Iron Eagle IV, the protagonist is shot down by "MiG-29s" (again, played by F-4 Phantoms)... carrying air to ground Maverick missiles.
Done in an episode of The Six Million Dollar Man, where Steve identifies a fighter (an F-94) by the engine note alone (supposedly realistic, too).
F-4 Phantoms also stood in for MiG-21's in Ice Station Zebra, at least during shots where actual aircraft were used - shots filmed using miniatures used models of actual MiG-21's.
The Korean War drama The Hunters uses repainted F-84F Thunderstreaks (which entered service too late to see action in Korea, though previous versions with unswept wings did) to play MiG-15s. Those -84s have been popularly known as "ThunderMiGs" ever since.
In WarGames, General Beringer's order to "scramble two F-16s [single engine, one tail and rather small] out of Galena" in response to a phantom Soviet bomber apparently gets garbled somewhere along the way: the aircraft seen moments later are unmistakably F-15s [two engines, two tails and markedly larger than the F-16].
This is in itself an odd example, as F-16s, which carry much smaller missile loads (a maximum of 6) and significantly less radar and fuel capabilities, are not primary interceptors. F-15s are what probably would have been scrambled in this case. This may be an in-universe example of the staff at the airbase altering the order to the correct one.
Also depends on the location: during the Cold War, Air National Guard squadrons on the West and East Coasts outfitted for the intercept role received intercept-optimised F-16s, so it's not inconceivable that they would have been tasked to the intercept — Florida ANG, for example, made plenty of Bear intercepts during the Cold War. But the simplest explanation is that Beringer was mistaken in what assets were available.
In early 1980s, when the movie was made, the air force unit likely operating from Galena, Alaska, was the 21st Tactical Fighter Wing (headquartered at Elmendorf AFB, which exercised control over the airfield at Galena as well), part of the 11th Air Force. At this time, 21st TFW was indeed operating F-15A's, having transitioned to the type from F-4 Phantoms in 1982.
The Messerschmitt Bf108 Taifun trainer shows up playing German fighters in several 1960s war films, notably 633 Squadron and The Longest Day. The Bf108 is a relatively common civil aircraft (they continued to be built in France after the war as the Nord 1000) that bears an unmistakable family resemblence to the Bf109 fighter.
Notably averted in The Great Escape where a Bf108 is actually used to portray a Bf108 which two of the escapees steal from a training field
Harvards (better known as T-6 Texans or SNJs) with bits glued on were used to represent fighter bombers in A Bridge Too Far. The C-47s used for that film were real C-47s, however. Or possibly repainted DC-3s, which are basically the same thing.
Virtually all DC-3s ever built were actually C-47s. 600 DC-3s were built before the war by Douglas; after the war the surviving majority of the nearly fifteen thousand C-47s were sold into civilian service, saturating the market for twin-engine propeller airliners.
The movie Memphis Belle is another example of an intensive effort being made to bring together actual vintage aircraft for an accurate filming; in that movie's case, most of the world's surviving B-17s. Note you never see more than 3 actual (as opposed to models or CGI) B-17s at a time.
P-51 escorts are glimpsed in the aerial battle scenes; they did not arrive in-theater until six months after the film is set (May 1943).
A particular screamer from Pearl Harbor; when a character says "We can't outrun Zeros, we'll have to out-fly them!" The American P-40 could easily outrun the Zero, but didn't have a prayer if they tried to out-turn the Zero, one of the most amazingly maneuverable (but relatively slow) fighter aircraft of the war. Note that U.S. Airmen were remarkably ignorant about the Zero's capabilities in 1941; accurate reports out of China were dismissed as exaggerated. About the only correct thing they did know about the Zero was its "Type 00" designation, the "Zeke" Reporting Name not being issued until late 1942. And the Zero wasn't that much slower than the P-40 in level flight, only in a dive.
In addition, the CGI P-40s' control surfaces didn't move. Possibly the other aircraft too, but there were a number of gratuitous beauty shots of the P-40s that made it obvious.
The B-25s for the Doolittle raid are wrong too - in several scenes they have the dorsal turrets well towards the front as in all B-25's past the G model. The Doolittle raid used the earlier B model; the B-25G was not produced until a year after the raid.
In the film Fail Safe, planes are ordered to hit their afterburners. The film then cuts to stock footage of what is clearly a bunch of planes firing missiles instead.
In the first Hollywood remake of Godzilla, the military aircraft are portrayed inaccurately:
Apache helicopters have fixed, side-mounted guns (as opposed to the swiveling nose-mounted gun of a real Apache) and Sidewinder anti-aircraft heat seeking missiles (not mounted on the Apache, which would use Stingers or AGM-114 Hellfire anti-tank missiles).
Towards the end of the film, Godzilla is attacked by an F/A-18 using Harpoon anti-ship missiles. While Godzilla may be large enough for a radar guided missile like the Harpoon to lock onto, the missile would certainly not work over land. note This is because land, being full of solid stuff, creates a very chaotic radar picture. By comparison the ocean is quite flat and smooth and makes it pretty easy for a missile to find a target, necessitating a rather different seeker design. There is a land attack version of the Harpoon that would be well suited for a target like Godzilla, but it entered service two years after the movie was released.
In the follow-up strike on the "hatchlings" at Madison Square Garden, the cockpit dialogue regarding the missiles is even more inaccurate. The lead pilot states they are using the laser (designator) and "going with LGBs" (Laser-Guided Bombs, aka "Paveways") - but the weapon select display clearly shows, and says "Harpoon Armed". Then, just before launching, he says, "Use the Mavericks" - which is an entirely different air-to-surface missile. What come "off the rails" on all three Hornets, though, are indeed Harpoons.
The Last King of Scotland has Israeli hostages at Entebbe rescued using a Soviet-built An-12 transport plane. The actual operation used American C-130s.
In You Only Live Twice, for an American Gemini rocket launch they used stock footage of an Atlas-Agena (probably carrying a weather satellite), and for a Soviet rocket launch they used stock footage of an American Gemini rocket.
Moonraker. The sequence in which a space shuttle blasts off from the aircraft carrying it.
The shuttle is never carried with fuel or live batteries. Even if Drax somehow arranged for them to be onboard, the Shuttle is basically a glider - its engine and onboard fuel aren't enough to fly it any great distance as if it were a regular jet plane.
It is also impossible to carry a shuttle on the back of a normal 747, even if you could add a cradle on top. The turbulence caused by it renders the normal rudder basically useless. (The NASA 747 used to ferry the shuttles had additional vertical steering surfaces installed at the ends of the horizontal tail surfaces for this reason.) The other problems can be hand-waved with this being something more like an earlier design, which included air-breathing jet engines with a significant internal fuel store. You'd still never get enough fuel on board it without it being noticed to be overweight when it was loaded on the carrier, or at the very least when the carrier was being pre-flighted and the crew noticed the landing gear was reading thousands of pounds more weight than it should be. Additionally, if the shuttle firing its engines while attached to the 747 causes the latter to explode, why does the 747 have an indicator in the cockpit for 'Shuttle Ignition' as if they were expecting it to happen sometime?
The Chinese planes that attack the stray British ship are repeatedly described as "Chinese MiGs". Although China does have MiGs, these aren't them; the aircraft are clearly recognizable as Q-5s, an indigenous Chinese type (admittedly partly based on MiG-19 technology, but very different in appearance). Apparently a case of the special effects department doing better research than the scriptwriters.
And a Qian-5 that drops a torpedo would be an extraordinary beast. They should have used the Chinese Harbin-5 bomber, based on the Ilyushin-28.
In the teaser, when the Royal Navy frigate fires the cruise missile at the terrorist "flea market", M tells 007 he has four minutes to get clear. The target is 400 miles from the ship. A Tomahawk cruise missile (as shown) has a top speed of about 550 miles per hour. It should have taken the missile about 43 minutes to get there. The novelization blows it even more thoroughly, with a Harpoon missile being launched, and traveling 800 miles in 4 minutes 8 seconds. First of all, a Harpoon has a maximum range of less than 100 miles, and second, it travels at about the same (determinedly subsonic) speed as the Tomahawk. To do 800 miles in 248 seconds, it would have needed to achieve about 11,600 miles per hour, or about 3.2 miles per second- about half of Earth's escape velocity. Also, any object traveling that fast at low altitude would burn up like a meteor hitting the lower atmosphere- plus what the shock wave effects would do to anything on the ground.
Live Free or Die Hard's F-35 sequence. Just look at the list of goofs. The F-35 is shown with two guns, when it really has one. It also uses its VTOL capacity to make a hovering attack. You could do this, but you'd run out of fuel really fast. Also, in a few HUD shots, the MASTER-ARM is set switched to SIM, which means the F-35 couldn't actually fire its gun or missiles.
Independence Day: RAF-marked F-16s in Iraq? The Air Force using F/A-18s in the climactic battle at the end?
If you freeze-frame during the part of the final battle when all the fighter planes are forming up, you can see a couple of Harriers, A-10s and F-16s in the mix, however that's the only time you ever see them and they're way in the background. They only budgeted for one extreme-detail fighter CG-model. Guess which one? Yup. The F/A-18. That's why there was such a fuckload of just those for the finale.
The number of F/A-18s flying in the final battle was more than have ever existed at any time in history. And this was after the aliens shot down the entire first counterattack earlier in the movie.
The novelization is a little more realistic in this department. Eagle squadron (the one the president commands) is formed of F-15s found stored at a "satellite" base part of the Area 51 complex. They are in a grave state of disrepair and several have to be cannibalized to make the others flightworthy, so that only about 8 fly in the actual battle. The rest of the force is formed from what ever they can find, including Russian fighters (acquired through various means during the Cold War for study at Area 51, Truth in Television actually), and even World War II fighters (a P-51 is mentioned). During the battle the planes are split into two groups: the shooters, modern American planes, and the decoys, Russian and other planes for which ammunition did not exist on base. The latter group was meant to go in first and attract the attention of the alien fighters and draw them off, allowing the former group to close in and open fire.
During the film's climax, Eagle Twenty announces "Fox Two", which is NATO code for the launch of an infrared guided missile, but the missile shown is an AIM-120 AMRAAM, an active radar guided missile that would be launched with "Fox Three."
Asteroid movie. A laser (judging by its size, geodesic; and of course, with the ray visible in space) fastened onto an F-16, manually aimed at a megameter or so, which blows up the big asteroid. Made even worse by the comment in-film that the lasers had to be fired from within the atmosphere to be aimed properly, as though having all that air in the way made it easier to target something in space. Though one could argue that it would be pure Snark Bait even with the Pentagon's "realistic" solution — an experimental laser cannon on a Boeing 747, which at least could take out missiles or aircraft. As opposed to the plain and sane original idea: arrange meeting of damn stone and little fusion device, the higher orbit the better, then watch some Stuff Blowing Up.
Toward the end of the rescue in the 1986 movie The Delta Force, a Boeing 707 is shown practically bulletproof in that it takes fire from Kalashnikov rifles as it is taking off only to have the bullets apparently glance off its metal skin. In real life, such a plane's relatively thin aluminum skin would be perforated and the plane rendered unsafe or unable to fly. There's also the issue of supposedly USAF C-130s having Israeli Air Force numbers (since the C-130s were leased from the Israeli military for the film), but that issue is quite minor and easily overlooked compared to the Bulletproof Boeing.
Midway was made with essentially no special-effects budget. One effect of this is that flying scenes are done with whatever Stock Footage they could get their hands on. It's common for airplanes to change model in mid-flight; the most egregious example is an airplane that makes its landing approach as single-engine SBD Dauntless dive-bomber, but crashes onto the carrier's flight deck as a single-engine jet fighter (a McDonnell Banshee).
Other aircraft that appear in the film but are completely out of place are F6F Hellcats frequently shown in place of the F4F Wildcats actually flown by the Navy and Marines during the time of the battle, FM-2s (a license-built, late-war variant of the Wildcat first appearing in 1944) for hangar and flight deck scenes, a SBD Dauntless turns into a F4U Corsair in the middle of a bombing run, and a TBD Devastator (actually depicted by a SB2U Vindicator) turns into a TBM Avenger and in the next shot becomes a F6F Hellcat. Almost all of the Japanese aircraft in the film were the same modified T-6 trainers used as Weapons Understudies for Tora! Tora! Tora! a few years earlier. All the scenes of TBD Devastators and SBD Dauntlesses flying in formation are actually SB2U Vindicators.
Despite the support of the the U.S. Military, the movie Transformers, contains a number of errors. An AC-130U Spooky gunship is used to take down the Decepticon Scorponok using "105 sabot rounds". The AC-130 is armed with a 105 mm howitzer, but there is no such thing as a sabot round for this type of weapon. Later, F-22 Raptors were used to attack the Decepticons during the final battle using laser guided air-to-ground missiles. In real life, the F-22 cannot carry any laser guided missiles; it is designed to use GPS guided bombs for air-to-ground attacks.
Also, freaking jet powered Predator. While the C variant of the Predator is jet powered, it also has substantially redesigned wings and fuselage. Putting a jet engine in a Predator B frame and putting it through the maneuvers in the movie would probably have snapped the wings off.
It should be noted, however, that when filming the AWACS sequence during the fight against Scorponok, the dialog is pretty much exactly what you'd get in an actual engagement. Bay gave the controller the target details, rolled camera, and let the aircrew do the rest.
Charlie Wilson's War used stock footage to depict Soviet fighters getting shot down. In several scenes, the fighters are obviously either F-16s or foreign variants, not Soviet planes.
In The Great Waldo Pepper, two relatively common Tiger Moth biplanes were wrecked in the crash scenes, standing in for the much rarer Standard J-1. Ironically, most sources about the film mistakenly identify the Standard J-1s actually used in the movie as the smaller (but more famous) Curtis JN-1 "Jenny". Tallmantz aviation, like most real Barnstormers, preferred the Standard because it was larger, stronger, and used a more reliable engine.
In Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, the opening sequence features Ace climbing some Alpine-looking mountains, dressed in suspenders and shorts often stereotypically portrayed on Swiss alpinists, and there is a helicopter flying around him painted in crimson red with a white cross at each side—the symbol and flag of Switzerland. The aircraft's tail number (license plate)? Canadian registration. Location shooting indeed...
Executive Decision features what is an F-117 stealth fighter that has somehow been modified to hold a sort of air-to-air docking collar while still having space for half a dozen armed commandos and the pilot, making the passenger compartment at least as large as the entire hull, leaving no space for engines, fuel tanks, or anything else. Apparently, the USAF has developed TARDIS technology.
In True Lies the portrayal of the Harrier jet is highly erroneous. Harriers are not designed to hover as long as it did in the film, are not bulletproof, and would be unflyable if it got its instrument panel shot up like it did.
Also, exactly how does Arnold avoid getting sucked into the intake & fodding the damn engine?
If a man were to be snagged on the forward fins of one of its missiles, it would immediately be directed downward by the weight pulling on it. Said weight would also ensure that the missile wouldn't have anywhere near the power or maneuvrability to bring itself back on course, and would most likely slam into the ground.
In The Rock, a flight of Air Force F/A-18 Hornets are sent on a bombing mission when it appears that the heroes have failed to neutralize the threat. The Air Force does not use F/A-18s in real life; only the Navy and the Marine Corps do. This was strange considering that the rest of the movie focused on the Marines and Navy.
Interestingly, the closeups of the F/A-18s display the squadron logo of VMFA-314, a Marine Corps squadron,note in fact the "Black Knights", the same squadron mentioned in Independence Day yet also have "U.S. Air Force" painted prominently on their sides.
Averted in, of all things, Dr. Strangelove: not only was the B-52 correct in exterior shots (save for casting the shadow of a B-17), the B-52 arming console shown was so accurate that the Air Force freaked out (the design of the console was still classified). As it happened, Kubrick and his crew had simply done an amazing job of extrapolation.
The Concorde: Airport '79 (also known as Airport 80 because it wasn't released until 1980 in some countries) was full of such howlers:
When the Concorde is being chased by heat-seeking missiles, George Kennedy opens a window in the cockpit, then leans out into the onrushing supersonic air and fires a flare gun. The force should have ripped the window housing open, and torn Kennedy's arm off.
In the course of dodging the heat-seeking missiles, the Concorde's engines flame out. The plane immediately nosedives straight down, plummeting like a rock. In the real world, when an airliner (even a supersonic one) loses power, it becomes a glider. It won't have the best glide performance in the world, but it's still going to be gliding, not falling (this was how Air Canada Flight 143 managed to make it to Gimli Industrial Park Airport while out of fuel).
It also lines up with the runway a few kilometers short of threshold, and only then does anyone (including airport tower) notice there's a multicoloured hot air balloon over the runway. Or the F-4 Phantom pilot somehow failing to shoot down an airliner with either missiles or guns for four entire minutes. Or a civilian runway equipped with barricade webbing large enough for an entire airliner. Or continuing the flight a few hours after two independent attempts to shoot down the plane (one a supposed accident, but the other involving a fucking fighter plane going after it) plus making an emergency landing and barely averting a runway overrun. Or the magic door-opening machine that punches in an access code by making the keypad push itself. Or that the same device also somehow operates the Concorde's fuel jettison pumps from the cargo bay.
Averted in Catch-22: The legendary Hollywood stunt pilot Frank Tallman put together an entire squadron of 24 B-25 bombers for the film. Even the camera plane was a B-25 with a special optical glass nose.
It's been said that part of the reason so many B-25's are still flying today and not scrapped is because they were made flyable for this movie.
The F/A-37s would never be able to take off from a carrier. Aside from being based on a somewhat dubious concept aircraft which would likely have trouble transitioning between wing angles, there's the minor issue that they're apparently all but VTOL-capable, swing-wing CATOBAR aircraft with comically gigantic missile loadouts and utterly insane range; there's no way an aircraft with such a laundry list of capabilities would be able to take off from a standard Nimitz catapult, and it's doubtful if it could do so at all, especially not with the stated empty weight of nine metric tons for a 70-foot aircraft. And even if all that weren't true, there's the small matter of their rear landing gear being secured to the carrier's deck with tie-down chains when they're on the catapult. Although it's worth mentioning Northrop-Grumann believed the aerodynamic concept might be feasible and as such has taken steps to ensure they had complete control over the forward swept swing wing design for the next two decades by patenting it in 2000.
There's also the infamous exploding plane scene, where Jessica Biel punches out seconds before her plane explodes. Next, the pilotless-but-still-in-one-piece plane twists around and starts barreling after her (although it had been twisting around before she hit the eject). Then it explodes, and an enormous cloud of wreckage chases her down. The "Ludicrous Gibs" level of debris rather suggests she was carrying a Lockhead C-130 troop transport in her missile bay.
Slightly less obvious but equally hilarious is how the F/A-37s are shown to outfly Su-37's using exactly the kind of cool supermaneuver those very Su-37s introduced in real life. Somehow, the Russian pilots only know how to fly in straight lines.
Made even worse when you know that those very same maneuvers are reserved for airshows and technology demonstration, and that no competent pilot would actually be stupid enough to attempt one in an actual dogfight. Made even more worse (worser?) that they are in a dogfight at all, when both sides are equipped with Beyond Visual Range missile technology, which means dogfighting is your last resort, not your go-to strategy for an engagement. Or the fact the non-stealth Faux-37's weren't even detected until they were only 25 miles out, etc. There's also the fact that these Su-37's are shown as two-seaters, when the only two Su-37's in the real world only have room for the pilot.
The F/A-37's cockpit has more elbow room than do passengers on commercial jets. A bit more forgivably, the joystick is in a between-the-legs placement; Subsequent jets like the F-22 and F-35 have a side stick.
Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus actually has a shapeshifting fighter jet due to the poor use of stock footage. In one shot the jet is an F-15, in another shot it is an F/A-18, and in yet another shot the same jet is an F-22.
The problem of acquiring Soviet bloc aircraft prior to the end of the Cold War is also encountered with helicopters. Ersatz Soviet helicopters include:
A View to a Kill: the Soviet helicopter that chases Bond in the pre-title sequence is a (West) German MBB-105.
Rambo: First Blood Part II and Rambo III: the Soviet helicopter is a French Aérospatiale SA 330 Puma, fitted with cosmetic modifications (most obviously the stub wings with rocket pods) to a decent semblance of a Mil Mi-24 "Hind A." The fake front fuselage apparently made it stunningly hard to actually fly. This ended up being carried over to all of the video games, licensed or fan-made.
SA 330s stood in for Hind-As in Red Dawn, as well, though they actually got close to early model Hinds at least in the forward fuselage. Check out the early model Hind◊ vs the fake Hind◊ from Red Dawn.
The Beast Of War: a French-built, Israeli-operated Aérospatiale Super Frélon stands in for the Soviet Mi-8 "Hip".
It didn't stop after the dissolution of the USSR, either. In Godzilla (1998), the "Russian" twin-rotor helicopter that picks up Nick Tatapoulos (Matthew Broderick) from Chernobyl is an American Piasecki H-21 "Workhorse". It is dated to the 1950s, and it was one of only two flyable ones left in the world. Today, there are exactly four- all in museums. And no, no Russian bird, not even a twin-rotor, ever looked very much like the H-21, often nicknamed the "Flying Banana".
Rare aversion: Elasti-girl's radio dialogue when the missiles are closing in on her plane is actually accurate, since her use of "Buddy Spike" makes sense in context since she believes the island to be friendly and the term is used to warn the "spiker" that the radar lock was from a friendly and can be disregarded. The only goof is that it was a ground radar, and the proper term for a ground radar threat indication is "Mud" followed by a clock direction.
Also, the tail number — IG99 — is invalid for an American-registered aircraft.
A less egregious but more obvious example is from Beyond the Time Barrier, where the F-102 changes side numbers between takeoff & landing. (The effects of jumping ahead in time?)
Casino Royale has the prototype "Skyfleet S570", possibly intended as a Bland-Name Product version of the then-new Airbus A380. The actual plane we see, however, is obviously a Boeing 747 with external fuel tanks hanging from the wings (specifically, it's the decommissioned 747 that lives on the Top Gear test track). This makes very little sense for any civilian aircraft.
Probably an example of Using What's Available. The Pilatus P-2 looks a lot like the Arado 96, the standard Luftwaffe advanced trainer of the war years (probably because after the war, several of Arado's designers went to Switzerland and were hired by... you guessed it, Pilatus). And quite a few Ar-96's had twin synchronized 7.9mm machine guns in the cowling, as shown in the film , for armaments training. The use of a pair of armed trainers for the mission (shooting up the Jones boys) may just have been a case of a training unit being the closest available air asset when the orders came down the chain of command.
A more glaring issue is the crash of one of the planes; it attempts to follow Indy and his father into a tunnel, but unfortunately the tunnel is just slightly too narrow for the plane, resulting in its wings getting sheared off. Then, through some miraculous act of momentum, the plane, sliding on its belly, actually manages to overtake the car it is chasing and exit through the other side of the tunnel before conveniently exploding. Apparently it was customary back then to coat the roadway within tunnels with vaseline.
Averted in Where Eagles Dare- In the climax, when Smith's team is escaping from Oberhausen airfield in the Ju-52, the trainers shown in Luftwaffe markings are North American T-6 Texans. The Luftwaffe did in fact have such trainers, captured from the Belgian Air Force in the 1940 blitzkrieg of the Low Countries and France.
In Superman Returns, Lex Luthor is stranded on an island with an out-of-fuel helicopter, and wishes he had just a quart of gasoline. The helicopter in question, however, was an AW109, which has twin turboshaft engines. Turboshafts are to helicopters what turboprops are to airplanes, and like the latter, they run on Jet-A (kerosene), not avgas (gasoline).
In Interceptor Force 2, the Russian fighters are called MiG-29s. They're really MiG-25s.
Interceptor (1993). There are supersonic, highly-agile F-117s that launch Sidewinder missiles out of the nose gear wheel well and have folding wings, which can deploy in flight after falling out of the back of a C-5. Also, the engines can somehow start by themselves without pneumatics, AND somehow not have a compressor stall during the aforementioned free fall. Then there's the KC-10 that the bad guys use to board the C-5 in flight, by sliding down the inside of the refueling boom and cutting through the fuselage above the crew rest compartment. Then there's the C-5, where 90% of the movie takes place. Apparently they were allowed to film the scenes on a real C-5, but no C-5 has all the air ducts and crawlspaces that this one has. The terrorists also siphon fuel from the 5 to the 117s from inside the cargo bay, in flight. And at the climax, it is blown up with a Sidewinder. Empty fuel tanks notwithstanding, a C-5 has taken a missile hit on takeoff in real life, and only lost the engine the missile was locked on to. It circled around and landed safely.
In The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008), the "sphere" and robot sitting in Central Park are attacked by Predator UCAVs, armed with Sidewinder air-to-air missiles and Hellfire anti-armor missiles, said UCAVs being flown by U.S. Army operators. First of all, the Army doesn't fly Predators, they belong to the U.S. Air Force (and the CIA, but we don't talk about that). Second, when the order to launch is given, the operators fire the Sidewinders, which are infra-red homing air-to-air missiles with relatively small annular blast-fragmentation warheads intended to shred fighter aircraft like a duck hit by birdshot. Not only are such light warheads useless against what is pretty obviously a pair of heavily-armored targets, they aren't generating enough heat to let the missiles' infra-red guidance systems lock on to them to begin with. In such a situation, the Sidewinder will "go dumb", and probably miss, and even if it hits, it won't accomplish much. And since the operators were supposed to be from the Army, you'd think they'd know enough to use the Hellfires, which are intended for use on heavily-armored ground targets (like tanks, for instance) when shooting at the equivalent of a small warship.
In the film version of The Hunt for Red October, Robby Jackson's crash is changed rather significantly from the book, becoming only a very minor point with an entirely different cause. That's understandable given the movie's time constraints; less understandable is the use of Stock Footage to depict the crash of a F-14 Tomcat on a modern carrier... stock footage that shows the Korean War crash of a F9F Panther on a straight-deck carrier. Oi vey.
In Red Tails, the all-black 332d Pursuit Group is depicted as upgrading from their older Curtiss P-40 Warhawks to shiny new North American P-51D Mustangs. In Real Life, they transitioned first to the Bell P-39 Airacobra (for all of a month or so), then to the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, and then to the North American P-51C Mustang. The most identifiable difference between the C and D models of the Mustang is that the C has a conventional "razorback" canopy more reminiscent of the P-40 Warhawk, while the D has the bubble canopy that the fighters are most often depicted with.
Though they did a much better job of it than HBO's The Tuskegee Airmen, which depicts them flying Mustangs from the very start.
The Me-262s like the one flown by Pretty Boy during the final battle were armed with four 30mm cannon, firing explosive shells. If Lightning had been hit by even one of those rounds in Real Life he would have been turned into a red smear all over his cockpit, much less the dozen or so that fatally wounded him in the movie.
In Sudden Death, the villain's JetRanger tilts back and goes vertically down into the stadium with its tail straight down and nose up in one of the silliest-looking copter crashes ever filmed. This is impossible with the rotors still spinning. Since they provide lift, upon going nose-up the JetRanger should've just spun out of control backwards due to the force of the rotor wash now pushing horizontally instead of vertically. In addition, the rate of descent is slow - a full 58 seconds from when it first starts descending to when its tail first hits the ice.
In the Japanese film Storm Over The Pacific, the Zeroes are painted green. This did not happen until 1944, 3 years after Pearl Harbor.
In any number of low budget films where aviation is not of the essence, mistakes are rampant:
In Street Of A Thousand Dreams, a man takes a flight from the US to Baghdad. The plane which takes off is a three rear-engine 727, while the plane that lands is a four winged-engine 707. From there, he's taken to the local Baghdad airport to take a small plane to Basrah. All of the planes there have N numbers, which is the designation applied to US planes.
Coffee Tea Or Me, the stewardesses take off in a 727 and land in a 707 (seems to be a pattern here).
The CGI flying sequences were were spot on, but the scriptwriters for The Aviator (2004) just used random aviation terms in any dialogue between Howard Hughes and Odie. Interwar-era biplanes did not produce reverse thrust, for example.
In Battlefield Earth, the heroes find a hangar full of Harriers, all of which aren't used for a millennium. Nothing should be working after about a millennium, it takes years, not weeks to learn to fly a plane, none of them have flight-suits and yet they're all stunt dogfighter material. On the positive side, they do mention that Harrier jets can hover. Note that Harriers are so unreliable that the fact that they can even be repaired is implausible.
In the low-budget film American Warship, CGI of a South Korean fighter desperately evading attack switches repeatedly between being an F-15 and an F-16.
In the film The Guns of Navarone the good guys get strafed at one point by a German fighter plane. The actual plane was an F4U Corsair, which was an American fighter plane mainly used by the Marines in the Pacific.
In Pacific Rim, the F-22 Raptors are shown firing two guns, but the production craft only has one (on the right side). The At least the tracer rounds are coming from the right spot.
Averted in Canadian film Arrow which used a very accurate fiberglass replica of the real CF-105 interceptor built by an enthusiast. Rumor has that, when the completed prototypes were being destroyed in the moview—which is why no real Arrow survives today—the film crew actually cut up the replica they were using to pieces, to the dismay of the guy who built (and still owned) it.
Averted and played straight in the 1938 film Test Pilot. One of the planes used was a Y1B-17 that crashes in the movie and the studio got permission from the United States Army to use one for some, but not all, of the scenes. They had to use a modified DC-2 as a stand in at times because the Army was quite understandably skittish about letting a movie studio have free reign with a very expensive heavy bomber prototype that was still under evaluation. The first production B-17 wouldn't make its maiden flight until over a year after the film was released.
Full Metal Jacket is a minor offender - the helicopter which transports Joker and Rafter Man to Hue is British built Westland Wessex - a licensed variant of the Sikorsky HUS-1/UH-34 used by the USMC in The Vietnam War, but powered by turboshaft engines and thus with minor yet visible visual differences.
A downplayed example in X-Men: Days of Future Past. While the Gulfstream II, the plane the X-Men use to fly to Paris, was first manufactured in the 1960s, the wingletsnote the vertical surfaces on the tips of the wings seen on this particular example were not part of the original design and were first available as an aftermarket retrofit in the 1990's (though much like the Blackbirdnote the SR-71 was still in development at the time of First Class was set, and neither it nor the Lockheed A-12 from which it was derived were VTOL-capable as the X-Men's jet is this is justifiable by Xavier's immense personal fortune and Hank's engineering know-how allowing for a custom, one-off modification). Also, the plane's tail number of N540EA reveals that it was manufactured in 1975, two years after the setting of the film.
Dan Brown committed an especially egregious one of these in Angels and Demons when portraying Robert Langdon's transatlantic flight in a "Boeing X-33". In Real Life, the X-33 project never produced a working prototype, but even if it had done so, the X-33 was unmanned, too small to accommodate any payload at all, let-alone adequate life-support, and was built not by Boeing, but by their arch-rival Lockheed-Martin. While straying from factual accuracy in The Da Vinci Code could be chalked up to Artistic License - History, the aviation inaccuracies here really can't be called anything short of Critical Research Failure.
Tom Clancy's book Red Storm Rising features the F-19A "Ghostrider" Stealth Fighter. At the time of writing, the Real Life F-117 "Nighthawk" (the triangular thing you think of as the Stealth Fighter) was operational, but very secret. Clancy's version is supersonic and capable of air-to-air combat, making it far more capable than the real plane. It seems to be based on the entirely fictional F-19 model kit by Testor.
Elizabeth Bear did not look up the length of transoceanic zeppelin voyages in writing New Amsterdam. She implies one takes two weeks or so; the actual length of such flights was five or six days, and zeppelins purpose-built for transoceanic journeys (like the Hindenburg) could do a round trip in under six days.
In Scarecrow, a French Harrier is hit by a truck, after hovering like a gunship. There is no external damage, but it blows up a few seconds later. Don't ask us how that works.
In Explorers The helicopter has amazing fuel capacity. The kid's spaceship is flying when the Drive In is open - evening, between 9pm and 1am. Then a helicopter encounters it shortly after the Drive in. We next see the helicopter landing at the airport in broad daylight - presumably at the end of a shift, late enough in the morning that the newspapers have been published and are available. That's easy 7 hours of flight that evening - a long time for almost any kind of helicopter to be just tooling around in the sky.
Live Action TV
The landing sequence in The A-Team from the episode The Beast from the Belly of the Boeing was largely accurate for a TV show, though it did make some notable mistakes. Murdock tells Hannibal to put the plane in a shallow dive to descend, which is not what airliners generally do. A "dive" means to lower the nose of the plane without reducing engine power; the resulting maneuver sheds altitude in exchange for higher airspeed. Airliners rarely dive when descending, and certainly won't be losing airspeed while in a shallow dive. Airliners generally just cut back on the engines to descend, and the reduced airspeed reduces lift and lets the plane drop (and often with spoilers partly deployed). The team also forget to deploy spoilers after touchdown, and despite being completely out of fuel Murdock tells them to reverse the thrusters, which is absolutely useless if they engine isn't producing any thrust. Also, although a Boeing 747-100/200 was used as the main plane, a few of the stock footage taxi scenes show engine nacelles from a 707.
In The Sixties, Doctor Who seemed to use rocket stock footage in every other serial. This dropped off in later years, but didn't die off completely until nearly the end of the original run. There's also the Vogan "Skystriker" missile from the Doctor Who episode "Revenge of the Cybermen", which is obviously a US Saturn V. And by "obviously" we mean "It has 'NASA' painted on the side in big, easily legible letters." In "The Big Bang", there is a scene showing a small video reel showing the journey of the Pandorica from Stonehenge to London. The video ends with the Blitz in 1941. The "German" bombers shown in the clip are actually American B-17 Flying Fortresses—in fact, the closest bomber has the American, 1943-45 vintage USAAF roundel on the wing.
In addition to lifting scenes from Destination Moon, the second episode of Time Tunnel used an Atlas rocket to represent the launch of a mission to Mars.
Averted when Donald P. Bellisario actually did do the research for the pilot episode of Quantum Leap. He went scouting for a Bell X-2, only to presumably be told that both the X-2's were destroyed in crashes so he'd have to make a replica. The full-scale fiberglass replica he had built is on display at Chino airport's Planes of Fame air museum, unfortunately quite worse for the weather since it's been stored outside for years, sans wings.
Black Sheep Squadron used slightly-modified North American AT-6 trainer aircraft (different cockpit canopies) as Mitsubishi A6M "Zeros"/"Zekes". The AT-6 is a noticeably larger and somewhat differently-shaped aircraft than a Zero.
The T-6s were ones originally rebuilt to "impersonate" A6M2 "Zekes" for the 1970 movie Tora! Tora! Tora!. Those "Zekes" got around; they later showed up in the 1980 time-travel movie The Final Countdown, which had the nuclear carrier USS Nimitz warped back to the late afternoon of December 6, 1941, just west of Hawaii...
Dark Skies used a Redstone-Mercury to represent a Gemini launch despite Gemini stock footage being widely available.
Father Ted: in "Flight into Terror", external shots show a BAe 146, but interior shots are of a wide-body aircraft.
All aircraft from Soviet-influenced countries as having Soviet color schemes, complete with red star. The Warsaw Pact countries (as well as Cuba) had their own roundels, many of which are still used today—Poland for example.
The first part of the pilot has an aircraft described as a French Mirage and shown as such on the chopper's target ID screen with accurate side-drawing, but the Stock Footage is of a completely different aircraft—quite possibly the British Hawker Hunter. To give you an idea of the size of the error, the Hunter is two generations of fighter aircraft older, i.e. late first-generation (mid 1950s) and subsonic. The Mirage is a third-gen, late 1960s aircraft, capable of exceeding Mach 2. The Mirage also has a large, triangular "delta" wing, and looks nothing like the Hunter.
Another episode features F-4s in service with the government of Suriana, a country in Latin Land. The F-4 was not exported to any state there and considering the instability of that country, it would not be high on the export list.
In one episode, Stock Footage of F-4s play F-16s. Rather different aircraft.
"Fallen Angel" has MiG-17s (one tail) playing MiG-25s (much younger two-tailed aircraft). While footage of the "Foxbat" may have been hard to acquire in 1985, that's not even trying. The aircraft is described as carrying "Arid" missiles, which appears to be a misspelling of "Acrid", the reporting name for the R-40/AA-6 missiles, which the aircraft could carry.
"Echoes of the Past" has, for some reason, an F-100 Super Sabre pop up in a shot that's meant to be of two MiG-19s. The two are similar in appearance and function (both were their country's first supersonic fighters).
"To Snare an Airwolf" has a US satellite launch done with footage of a Saturn V launch—and the actual satellite using a clip of Skylab, which had re-entered the atmosphere in 1979, five years before the episode was made.
"Proof Through the Night" has Airwolf approach a USAF refuelling tanker, which is fine, and has the copilot asking why they're using a refuelling setup for aircraft with a refuelling probe. Several errors are made: the pilot and copilot believe the choices are a Harrier or SR-71 Blackbird, forgetting that all USN carrier aircraft use refuelling probes (the probes on the Tomcat and Hornet fold away when not in use). Secondly, they're using a "male" boom refuler, instead of the hose-and-drogue setup. The male boom plugs into the aircraft, and can't fit a refueling probe. Third, the crew is shocked to be regueling a helicopter... Except that at that time, the Air Force was deploying MH-53J Pave Low III and HH-60G Pave Hawk search and rescue choppers, which DID have refuelling probes, and were regularly refueled by USAF tankers.
The military-legal show JAG has many examples of this trope in practically every episode dealing with aircraft. There was a scene where some attack chopper was supposed to be firing machine guns. The noise was right, but the heli was really firing rockets from a pod. They were probably used in place of the guns because machine guns firing look quite boring in real life, as opposed to foot-long flaming "bullets". Oh, and here's a suggestion: if playing a JAGDrinking Game, drinking whenever a plane changes model in flight will get you drunk quick smart.
In the NCIS episode "Agent Afloat", an F/A-18 on USS Seahawk switches to an F-14 between shots. The F-14 had retired from USN service before the episode was made.
The first season episode "High Seas" features a US Navy SH-60 Seahawk quite clearly crewed by Australians.
Jetstream, a documentary series on the training of Canadian fighter pilots, constantly has the announcer refer to the aircraft as the "F-18 Hornet". That was the original designation, but only Finland appears to use it. The US calls it the F/A-18 and the Canadian single-seater version is officially the CF-188A, but more usually called the CF-18A.
This is technically an error, but a forgivable one; as almost no-one (even its pilots) bothers calling it the F/A-18 in colloquial speech. This is common with with other aircraft that have complex or unpopular official tri-service designations. Generally when referring to these aircraft, people will use the shorter (but technically incorrect) designation, or its common service name. For example, almost no-one calls the A-10 the "thunderbolt II". It is universally known as either the A-10, or the "hawg" or "warthog". The "F/A-18 Hornet" is more commonly known as "the bug" or "the plastic bug" etc...
Smallville once featured a character taking a trip by private jet. When shown on the ground it was a Bae 125. The shot of it en route showed it had suddenly acquired a third engine and looked like a Falcon 50. It then got into trouble and plummeted Earthwards and turned into a Cessna before coming to rest as wreckage that looked like a Lear.
In a later episode of the TV series, he pilots what's supposed to be the same aircraft yet again. This time, they show a Bell X-2 rocket plane. In the script, Steve Austin calls the plane the "X-PJ-1". (Perhaps the script writer was wearing pajamas at the time.)
In another episode of the TV series, he's shown taking off in an F-4 Phantom II, flying around in a Northrop F-5, and landing in an F-104 Star Fighter. This scene was supposedly showing us a single flight.
In the second season of The Greatest American Hero, an episode called, The Hand-Painted Thai had scenes from the Vietnam War that were supposed to be taking place in 1970. In one of the scenes, you see an F-16 dropping bombs. The problem is that the F-16 never saw service in Vietnam. In fact, the F-16's first flight wasn't until a few years after this scene was supposed to take place.
The final episode of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip has off-screen F-14s scrambling out of Bagram in Afghanistan. Again, they had retired before the episode was made.
Even if F-14s had still been active, they would have been far more likely to have been scrambled from a nearby aircraft carrier than flying from a land base. It's doubtful any F-14s ever operated out of Bagram.
Mythbusters plane on a conveyor belt. Even after the common theory about it was busted, people still complained that they did it wrong. The initial question: if a plane was attempting to take off on a conveyor belt designed to go in the opposite way at the same speed, would it take off? General public consensus: No, it wouldn't, because the wheels would be locked in place by the conveyor belt, just like a car would be in that situation. Apparently, billions of people forget that a plane's wheels are free-spinning, and that it gets its thrust entirely from its engines accelerating air rearward, thus would be impacted very little, if any, by the treadmill.
Entirely averted on Top Gear, due in large part to 1. presenter James May holding a private pilot's license in his own right and being a total aviation nerd (witness his excitement at finding the Albanian MiG boneyard "It's a two seater version from the Korean war... I believe that will have been built in China") and 2. the coolness of certain stunts being based on the performance of a car vs. the legitimate capabilities of [insert name of Cool Plane or Cool Helicopter here].
Averted in the Twilight Zone episode "The Odyssey of Flight 33". Rod Serling used his brother Robert, who was an aviation writer, and an airline-pilot friend as sources for the cockpit dialogue.
Particularly jarring to anyone with half a brain in Jericho, where the main character reports seeing a Tuplov "Bear" and some escorts, when the plane in question is clearly is a C-130 Hercules, the single longest produced military aircraft of all time.
Air Crash Investigation, you can guess what it's about, has a tendency to fall into this as well. One example is in the episode "Bomb on Board", which recycles the same clip for taking off and landing with the thrust reversers deployed. Another episode about the Tenerife disaster, which involved a collision between two 747s, Pan Am and KLM, introduces the KLM plane with a shot of it in flight...with winglets, identifying it as a 747-400, which at the time of the disaster (1977) would not be put into production for another 11 years.
In one episode, it is clear that the people making the show believe that any twinjet in an American Airlines livery must be an A300.
In The Comic Strip Presents episode "Four Men in a Plane", our heroes take off for the middle east in a four-engined airliner, but when they land it's only got two engines. (It's not the plane of the title, by the way—that is a single-engined light aircraft.)
There's a rocket example in an episode of Blake's 7. Establishing model shots of the rocket are clearly based on the Russian Soyuz design, but the actual launch footage is of an American rocket. Presumably the producers were planning to use stock Soviet launch footage but either couldn't get it or thought it was of insufficient quality.
Bizarrely, The BBC adaptation of The Machine Gunners changes the downed bomber from which the machine gun is stolen from a Heinkel He 111 to a Junkers Ju 52. Guess which one of these German aircraft wasn't in service as a bomber during 1941.
The source novel explains that the tail section of the He 111 broke off and crashed into the woods after the rest of the aircraft crashed into the laundry. Since the dorsal gun on a He 111 is located relatively far forward on the aircraft there is no way a tail section of this aircraft could break off and still contain the gun position. While the Ju 52 used on the TV series was clearly incorrect for an in service bomber, at least it had the gun position in the 'correct' spot.
Leverage falls into this fairly frequently. The most obvious case is in "The Mile High Job" which centers a round a plane flight. The establishing shot of LAX uses some Stock Footage which prominently displays a TWA airliner (TWA was bought out by American in 2001). On the flight, they have Parker giving the safety spiel (on just about any plane with an entertainment system, this is given by a video), and the plane itself seems to be a 777 with the wings of an A330.
The large plane that serves as the mobile base for the team in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. sports a pair of engines on the tail fin, sucking in all that hot exhaust air from the wing engines.
Also, considering how much a C-5 flares (rotates its nose up) for takeoff and landing, a pair of engines hanging that low that far aft would make a takeoff or landing run really interesting- for the pilots and everyone else aboard.
As it turns out, the extra engines are necessary when the plane hovers in "The Hub". But making her a VTOL just brings up more technical problems, like insufficient thrust and structural support for the engines. Applied Phlebotinum plus Rule of Cool is the only possible way to overcome these problems.
In "0-8-4", the Bus makes a landing on a dirt landing strip in the jungle, kicking up much dirt and debris directly into the engine intake. FOD (Foreign Object Damage) appears not to be a consideration.
Cabin Pressure averts this: the writer obviously does lots of research.
As it's prone to doing, Warhammer 40,000 takes this Up to Eleven; depending on the source, those stumpy Imperial fighters with leading edges a scale foot thick and bombers that look like the bastard offspring of a B-17 and an Abrams are single step to orbit spaceships which are just as at home fighting in the vacuum of space as they are in atmosphere. Even whatever this is can hit escape velocity, because air resistance is heresy.
Most are modeled to resemble WWII propeller fighters but with jets instead of propellers, yet they supposedly can achieve speeds in excess of Mach 2. Take the Imperial Navy's air fighters. Real world aerodynamics would conspire to prevent this (though tough 40K materials in turn would conspire to prevent real life aerodynamics); though enough brute force can make anything fly, it has rather greater trouble making anything turn (you don't put the engine in the front in supersonic fighters, because it moves the Center of Weight fore of the center of pressure, and would make the fighter so stable in supersonic flight that no amount of control force would allow it to maneuver). Let's not even get started on the Orks, Chaos and Dark Eldar aircraft, this entry would reach monstrous proportions (well, more monstrous then it already has). The only aircraft that could maybe fly, and that's a very big maybe, are the Eldar and Tau. And that excludes that Tau dropship that looks like gussied-up cinderblock, obviously.
Also, let's hear it for the Thunderhawk, an SSTO troop transporter with a scale 16-inch spinal gun that isn't under any kind of faring and is only capable of firing above the aircraft. This along with the slender midsection presumably makes the Thunderhawk the only troop aircraft to be able to land infantry in two places at the same time. It banks in order to fire the gun at ground targets.
It's probably worth remembering that the Imperials, Eldar and Tau have anti-gravity technology, and the last two make extensive use of it. It's probably safe to say that this technology negates the need for aerodynamic structures somehow. Although anti-gravity would only work to generate lift not reduce drag, for that one needs streamlining, which Games Workshops seems to think it's heresy. Also if one doesn't need wings because one is using anti-gravity then why encumber a design with wings. They would be dead weight and would negatively affect turning on at least two axis.
Battlefield games tend to have slightly silly flight models (the original's planes tend to practically leap into the air), while later games have them rather too tough (Desert Combat's AC-130 can fly straight through the factory chimneys at El Al, while BF2's helicopters can survive a direct hit from a main battle tank) and with Easy Logistics in full swing (helicopters can re-arm by hovering over runways, planes just by flying over them; this is generally regarded as a fairly serious Game Breaker since it means they require no support of any kind). The pilot of a multi-seat aircraft can also instantly teleport between seats; skilled players sometimes use this in helicopters to fire TV-guided missiles despite having no gunner.
In Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Haggard incorrectly identifies an Antonov An-124 that the game's Big Bad uses as the Antonov An-225.
During the Battlefield 3 mission in which the player character is a Radar Intercept Officer aboard an F/A-18, one of the later mission objectives orders the player to "Take out remaining MiGs". The airborne enemies encountered during this mission are Sukhoi Su-35s, not MiGs.
The trailer for the updated version of the Gulf of Oman map for BF3 shows Marine variant F-35 fighter jets using their VTOL capability to act as impromptu attack helicopters. A real F-35 would be incapable of doing this without wasting a ton of fuel.
The F/A-18E Super Hornet incorrectly has Marine Corps markings, the US Marines have refused to use the Super Hornet so as to not endanger their purchase of the F-35B.
While playing the level "Going Hunting" in the presence of several Naval aviators, laughter broke out at the fact that the pilot and his copilot walked out on the flight deck, without helmets on (and thus, no ear protection) and the engines of the jets were already running. Points were given though for a pretty realistic portrayal of the speed of a catapult launch and how exhilarating it is.
Splinter Cell has a few examples of playing this trope straight. In the first title, Georgia is depicted as having what looks like either a MiG-29 or a Su-27, neither of which are correct. Additionally, the depiction of the interior dimensions of the V-22 Osprey are noticeably generous to anyone who has actually stepped foot in one. Large computer bank on each wall with room to move comfortably in between? Not likely...
Mostly averted in the Ace Combat series, though there are occasional oddities — in the real world, the Su-47 Berkut is a tech demo, and only one exists. In the games, multiple Su-47s are flown in battle by the various sides, all the way up to whole squadrons using the model, like Gault in The Belkan War. Also subverted on occasion, however; for example, both the X-02 Wyvern and the ADF-01 Falken superfighters, which look implausibly cool, have been modeled in the realistic flight sim X-Plane and successfully proven to be airworthy under modern flight knowledge limitations. This far from stops fanboys of Glorious Mother Russia insisting in YouTube comments that no pesky American jet should be able to keep up with their beloved MiGs and Sukhois, never mind score a gunkill.
Similarly, when they came out, multiple titles feature more Lockheed-Martin F-22 fighters serving in multiple air forces then were operational in the actual world, and with the decision of military spending in the United States, will probably ever be operational.
The in-game descriptions for the jets occasionally fall into this; for example, Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies refers to a number of the useable planes as having "forward-swept" wings — the above-mentioned Su-47 and X-02 are the only jets in the game that feature them. Apparently they mistook "forward-swept wings" for "canards", which a lot of the planes described as such do havenote it wouldn't be the only such mistake in the game - turning ability in the game also seems to have been mistaken as "able to roll really well", where high-end planes like the Eurofighter and Su-37 can do a complete barrel roll in half a second but can only actually change pitch as well as the F-4E you start the game with.
In Ace Combat 2, an F-22's thrust vectoring is shown off at one point in the intro cinematic, but its engines point in different directions. This would indicate 3-dimensional thrust vectoring, but the F-22's thrust vectoring is only 2-dimensional. There's also the issue of it and its Su-35 wingmate taking off from an aircraft carrier when neither of them are carrier-capable.
The main reason that the game can give a seemingly limitless supply of Super Prototypes and Tech Demonstrators to enemy and friendly fighter squadrons is because it takes place in an alternate universe that goes through at least two large-scale wars per decade, where the outcome of the war very often hinges on the prowess of one side's air support and the possibilities of such aircraft entering active service with any military are as such perfectly reasonable. Although this then raises the question of why an alternate Earth with different geography and politics has managed to produce the same planes, credited to the same companies, as our world — and that's before you get into the issue of companies selling or licensing their designs to both sides of a conflict (granted, the latter fact actually becomes a plot point in one of the games).
Ace Combat Infinity, set in the real world, has an alternate justification for why there are so many rare or obsolete planes still flying in 2019 - following the Ulysses asteroid impact and most governments' reducing military spending to focus on rebuilding, a company called Wernher and Noah Enterprises have taken up production of military craft, streamlining the process via "Advanced Automated Aviation Plants" to the point that planes can be built quickly, cheaply, and efficiently so long as blueprints for it exist. This makes mercenary squadrons like the players are in a very lucrative business (what with a surplus of planes but a shortage of pilots to fly them), but also allows terrorist groups access to vast amounts of military hardware.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 falls into this trap by showing F-15s in "The Gulag" mission but later referring to the Navy as bombing the gulag. The Navy uses F/A-18s and eventually will use F-35s for combat missions.note Ironically enough, this mission is clearly influenced by The Rock, and yet it makes the exact opposite error that movie does. Apparently the developers didn't want to bother modeling another aircraft. It's also rather sad considering Call of Duty 4 correctly showed the Marines getting their air support from SuperCobras and Harriers - except in multiplayer, where again the F-15 carries out both their airstrikes and those of the SAS.
Call of Duty 4 also features Mi-24 Hind attack helicopters in Chernobyl's vehicle graveyards. No such aircraft are present in the real graveyardsnote this is most likely a Shout-Out to STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl, which also erroneously features Hinds in the vehicle graveyards. Zakhaev's forces also use Mi-28N Havocs for air cover in the Chernobyl missions, at best a couple months before the prototype for that version even had its first flight. Especially odd in that these are the only levels in the entire game that they use that craft - in the rest of the game, where the Mi-28N being ubiquitous would have been temporally possible, the Ultranationalists are the only non-English faction that doesn't use them.
Modern Warfare 2 had a chronic case of Easy Logistics, with magical transatlantic Havocs-apparently-carrying-BMPs probably the biggest example.
World at War gets this wrong on occasion. The worst example would be from the beginning of the Soviet campaign, where "German bombers" are seen flying over Stalingrad in a Blitz-style air-raid. Quite apart from the fact that the Germans did not use saturation bombing on Stalingrad at that point in the battle (you know, with their own men inside the city and everything), the planes featured are Focke-Wulf Fw 200s, which were primarily naval reconnaissance and patrol aircraft, and had small bomb bays. Fw 200s were deployed to Stalingrad, but only as transport aircraft making up part of Goering's idiotic "air bridge". They were likely used in the game because they had four engines, and thus looked more intimidating than the Dornier Do 17s and Heinkel He 111s that would actually have been used. If the Germans had ever been serious about strategic bombing, they would have used He 177 "Greif" heavy bombers, certainly not maritime patrol aircraft.
The PBY Catalina the player mans the guns of in "Black Cats" has both Oerlikon 20mm cannons and Browning M1919 machine guns mounted on the bow. The cannons were often reported as a field modification to Catalinas in the Pacific, but they'd have to remove the machine guns to make the room for them.
Call of Duty: Black Ops has U-2 spyplanes in multiplayer, which can be hit from the ground with small-arms fire. The actual U-2s were designed specifically to fly so high that then-existing anti-aircraft weaponry couldn't reach them. There is no in-game justification for why they would be flying so low, it's pure game balance. It also features both NPC and player-controlled Hind gunships in Vietnam in 1968, a full year and a half before its first flight and four years before it entered military service, but that's one of the lesser anachronisms in this game.
Modern Warfare 3's second mission starts with a transmission from F-22 pilots preparing for a bombing run, but the wireframe models and information on the screen are all, once again, F-15s. On top of that, the loadout shown for them tries to claim that an external fuel tank is a JDAM, and for the actual air strike they launch "JDAM Missiles", which A) don't exist (JDAMs are a conversion kit for unguided bombs), and B) are actually AIM-120 Sparrows, a dedicated air-to-air weapon.
F-19 Stealth Fighter was a combat flight simulator produced by Microprose in 1986. Its fictional plane used the same general appearance as the Testor Corporation's model kit, and was similar in capability to the F-19 featured in Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising a few years earlier. Ironically the game was released on the same day that the U.S. military admited the existence of the F-117, the Real Life "stealth fighter", which turned out to be quite a different bird. The 1991 sequel/remake used the real F-117.
A carrier appears at the end of Prototype with F-22's and Apache helicopters shown sitting on the flight deck. The problem being that the Navy uses neither of these. The Air Force uses F-22s (there is no Naval [read:carrier landing] variant planned) and the Apache is only used by the Army. The Navy also doesn't give up its flight deck space to the other services when they have their own aircraft to use. If the game is really set a few years in the future, then the deck could be covered in the similar-looking and planned-to-be-ubiquitous F-35 and the Apaches could be handwaved as the Marines finally replacing the aging Super Cobra (rather than just upgrading it), but it probably isn't.
They also don't use Blackhawks, so the ubiquitous transports should be upgraded Hueys, or if it's really the future, V-22 Osprey tilt-rotors. There are also, incidentally, no Bradley IFVs in the Marine inventory. So if they'd just name-swapped the Army for the Marines in dialogue, almost everything except the carrier would work fine.
This trope is averted thoroughly in the World War II combat flight simulator series IL-2 Sturmovik. The demo of the same studio's next flight sim, Birds of Steel, doesn't do as well, though, with the narrator of the tutorial at one point telling you to fire the "afterburners" on your P-47 Thunderbolt, a single-engined propeller plane which, due to the mechanics of piston-engined planes, could never be fitted with an afterburner even if they had been invented when the game was set.
While a "Jug" certainly couldn't have a "reheat", the afterburner was actually around back then. The Italian Caproni-Campini CC1 fighter prototype of 1940 used a radial engine to run a ducted fan (much like many modern radio-control flying models), and it did have a "thrust augmentator", which squirted avgas into the duct behind the fans and ignited it. In other words, an afterburner. Early jet technology could get a little strange, by modern standards.
DiD's 80s flight sim F-29 Retaliator has some rather odd quirks; for a start, the poster plane is actually the F-22, the game having been mis-announced by Ocean's notoriously fearsome CEO and nobody wanting to correct him (mirroring the urban legend about the SR-71's name). The YF-22 wouldn't fly until a year after the game came out, so the aircraft is based on concept art that closely resembles the much later MiG 1.44 prototype. But that's not even the start of the silliness.
You are still in full control of your plane after ejecting from it. You can even kill yourself by bringing the plane around and crashing it into the descending pilot sprite.
There is actually an F-29 in the game. It's the X-29 research aircraft magically turned into a fighter without changing anything about it — even the paint scheme on the intro screen. The player is offered the choice between the not-F-22 and the F-29 at the start of the game.
In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater Volgin has a great number of Mi-24 Hind helicopters under his command, but the game takes place in 1964, six years before the helicopter went into production and even the first prototype was still very early in development. To give the designers some credit, the helicopters are the early Hind-A version with the polygonal canopy, instead of the iconic bubble canopy of the Hind-D and later models, making it an example of Rare Helicopters. It's also worth noting that the game explains that Volgin has priority access to what was at the time the cutting edge of Soviet equipment, and in an Codec conversation you find out that this is the first time anyone from the West has encountered the design, with Snake being the one who initially suggests the "Hind" callsign.
The game's designers deserve quite a bit of credit, as most of the 'wacky designs' for vehicles in the game (save the Shagohod, which is classically Awesome, but Impractical in traditional Metal Gear fashion) are drawn from rare but existing real life prototypes and models, such as the M21 insertion drone used by Naked Snake at the start of Operation Snake Eater and the Bartini Beriev WIG which appears in the ending scenes. Even the science-fiction-style hovering platforms used by patrols in some areas are based on realprototypes, proving once again that Reality Is Unrealistic.
Averted by X-Plane. While flight sims are generally pretty good at getting it right X-plane's attention to detail and real-world flight physics is so incredibly accurate it can be used, along with the right hardware, for getting one's FAA certification. That's right, they've shown so much work that many countries' aviation regulators agree it's just like flying a real airplane.
Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. starts out with the retirement flight of the eponymous Air Force squadron - flying Navy F/A-18 Hornets. You don't even get a choice of what plane to fly for the mission when replaying it later.
The first game also prevented planes from slowing down to below 1000 km/h outside of Assistance OFF mode. Even though this could have exceeded the never-exceed velocity of some slower planes. Even includes all planes breaking the sound barrier, which in real life could have shattered some of the planes. The second game fixes that, allowing the plane to stall even in Assistance ON mode, though the flight computer makes it more difficult to do so.
When in Assistance OFF mode, the player is able to stall the plane out. It indeed does start plummeting near-immediately, but a stall is more likely to happen when the player is flying extremely slowly while turning a lot. Where it falls into this trope is that, if the player decides to stay in that state for the hell of it by keeping the plane level with the ground and holding the airbrakes, their plane will in most cases start to fly backwards. This was fixed in the sequel.
In a reversal of the original point, at one point the player character defects from the Artemis PMC back to the US military. He does so while defending a naval group, who suggests clearing a space on their aircraft carrier for them to land, even though it's possible (and likely, given the game's suggested plane for the mission) that the player is not flying a jet capable of landing on a carrier.
The F-15 S/MTD is treated as though it has thrust-vectoring. While this would be true of the real-world model, the in-game model is, save for the addition of canards, identical to that of the F-15C. And, for that matter, so is the F-15E model, which should have conformal fuel tanks near the intakes.
Every jet in the game with more than one variant uses the exact same model for each one, from most of the MiGs to the Mirage 2000's, even when later variants add or remove extra seating. The sole major exception is the F/A-18E Super Hornet, which has the proper wider fuselage than the other Hornet variants (lesser exceptions exist with the Flanker family, which add canards to variants that have them - though in this case, they're lazy enough about it that the textures include the canards even on variants that don't have them).
Aerobiz: Though most aircraft have historically accurate phase-in and discontinuation dates, they don't feature accurate seating capacities or operational ranges. This is further exaggerated by the fact that the game does not allow airlines to make any alterations to the seating capacities or cabin configurations.
Blazing Angels lets the heroic World War II pilots upgrade to flying the F-82 Twin Mustang, which first flew a month before the end of the war and didn't see combat until Korea.
TaleSpin's Sea Duck is a cargo plane that can outperform fighter jets. This is justified in the pilot arc, where Kit points out that Baloo has extensively customized the plane, but never again are Baloo's special modifications even mentioned. Indeed, one of those modifications, the Overdrive, burns out at the climax of the pilot film and is never replaced. Although the Sea Duck's performance is implausible for a large, twin-engined cargo seaplane, there are no actual fighter jets in the series to out-perform — the setting for the series seems to be the late 1930s, where jet engine technology is barely nascent. Baloo actually pilots the first jet engine known in the series' universe. Yes, jet engine — it wasn't attached to an aircraft yet. The Sea Duck is also insanely hardy — Baloo is well-known for the many times he's flown into the sea, and had to be fished out. Any non-gliding wings-level calm-sea alighting will usually result in the utter destruction of any airplane. Also on Baloo's bragging list is flying underwater, landing inside a volcano, taking off backwards, and landing on a nightmarishly impossible roller-coaster like runway that makes even him nervous.
In Family Guy, we have Quagmire, an airline pilot. In the episode "Airport '07", Peter somehow manages to drive onto an airport ramp post-9/11, ride up to an airplane on the tarmac, detach the fuel hose from said airplane, and somehow stick it in his truck. Must be a one-size-fits-all hose. And security must be pretty lax. And that truck must be a diesel truck to be able to run on Jet A. And nobody was manning the refueling truck... The plane later crashes after running out of fuel, and Quagmire, its pilot, loses his job. He confronts Peter, admonishing "No Peter, it's perfectly normal to siphon jet fuel from an active runway with the intention of flying a pickup truck!".
Also falls into this due to the "active runway" comment - an active runway is the runway currently in use. Runways aren't all in use at once, but are opened or closed on the basis of wind direction. The plane in the episode sounds like it was on a taxiway instead of a runway, as being on the runway itself is only allowed if you're about to take off, are landing, or quickly crossing it. Of course, Quagmire could have just been exaggerating when he said active runway. Or the writers thought "active runway" meant that the airport was in use, not out of commission, and not the runway itself.
"Halloween on Spooner Street" has a Japanese Zero in an airplane graveyard, which is not only gassed up and still fully-functional, but also has room to fit two extra people (possibly three, given Peter's girth) behind the pilot. It should be noted, however, that this situation was intentionally set up by Quagmire to pay Peter and Joe back for pranks they pulled on him earlier in the episode.
The 2012 Christmas episode opened with a fake commercial making fun of Northwest Airlines, 4 years after Northwest ceased to exist after merging with Delta.
South Park often falls into this trope such as showing a DC9 and then having it be a twin aisle on the inside, but an egregious example comes in the episode Fatbeard. Cartman plans to go to Somalia to become a pirate by flying Southwest to Miami, and the Dubai Air to Cairo. Problem is, Southwest doesn't serve Miami, and there is no such airline as "Dubai Air." The closest would be Emirates, who doesn't have a hub in Cairo, but rather Dubai...go figure. Also, no airline even flies Miami-Cairo. Based on a standard great circle routing, Miami is actually a very inconvenient connecting point for flights from the middle-east since "up and over" towards the north pole is more direct.
Once they get to the airport it continues. After talking about Southwest earlier, they check-in at the Alpha counter before showing a Southwest-painted 757 (a plane Southwest does not fly) with 5 across seating. A 757 (as well as a 737 which they DO fly) would have 6 across.
Toward the end of Rock-A-Doodle, the rodent character actually refers to a large, twin-rotor helicopter the main characters apparently stole as a Sikorsky, but in real life, Sikorsky never manufactured any twin-rotor helicopters at all.
The DVD-exclusive Cars Toon "Moon Mater" mostly averts this where the space shuttle Captain Roger actually flies into space vertically like a real space shuttle, but plays this straight at the end of the short where he actually takes off on a runway.
Averted in an episode of Archer that takes place on a Zeppelin-like vehicle. Archer spends the entire episode convinced that the thing will go up in flames at the drop of a hat, even though everyone keeps telling him that it's using inert helium to float, instead of combustible hydrogen.
Hugely averted in the Disney World War II animated film Victory through Airpower. The fictitious heavy bombers taking off from Alaska to bomb Japan bear curious resemblance to the real life B-36 Peacemakers of the post-War era. Of course, Alexander Severskey, who was the narrator for the film, was himself a major aviation pioneer and is said to have insisted on technical accuracy for even the fictitious planes depicted in the film.
In 2011, China released a video of one of its pilots shooting down another aircraft during training. Almost immediately it was noticed that the footage of the exercise was pretty much identical to a scene from Top Gun.
It's an inaccuracy to call all Soviet/Russian aircraft MiGs. There are plenty of non-Mikoyan aircraft in Russian service—such as Sukhoi's Su-27 "Flanker". Justified, most of the Russian fighters that got a lot of publicity during the Cold War were Mikoyan aircraft, and American ace pilots and the aircraft they flew who scored many kills against Cold War opponents were called "Mig Killers". Sukhoi did not come into much prominence until they introduced the Flanker, which by the time it became publicly seen and well known, the Cold War was over (the only Sukhois involved in live combat during the Cold War, at least as reported by the US, were the Su-22's shot down in the Gulf of Sidra incident).
For much of the Cold War Sukhoi was seen as an interceptor and ground attack house, producing, for example, the Su-15 aircraft that gained notoriety after being used to intercept Korean Air 007 flight, or an armored fire support workhorse of the Su-25. They also dabbled in bombers, but the influence of Tupolevs was unsurmountable, so they never managed to get a foothold there. In The Seventies, when Mikoyan rolled out the MiG-25 interceptor and MiG-27 ground attack plane, their roles kinda switched over, with Sukhoi starting to develop a new heavy air superiority fighter (the above-mentioned Su-27) in response to the rumors of the F-15 being created in the US.
A 2009 leaflet for the British National Party in the UK (which also had all the "supporters'" pictures be of people who weren't actually British or who had called them a bunch of racist douchebags) had a picture of a Spitfire. However, the letters "RF" were clearly visible on it. This identified the aircraft quickly as from 303 Squadron. That's right — the BNP were campaigning against Polish migrant workers, using an aircraft which was manned by Polish ace pilots.
There's a Nissan ad depicting a 747 about to crash due to its front landing gear being broken. A plane with broken landing gear would simply land without using the landing gear, rather than nose-diving into the runway and deliberately killing everyone on board.
"The crew was pretty calm about it. They walked around and checked on everyone," he said. "But it wasn't like the movies where papers get sucked out of the hole, but you could feel it and hear the noise."
A South Korean newspaper had an article about two USAF F/A-18 fighter jets landing on Inchon international airport. However, the US Navy uses the F/A-18, not the Air Force.
An understandable mistake if one remembers that in most countries, fixed-wing aircraft are usually the responsibility of the air force. The United States, with five services flying fixed-wing aircraft, and three of them equipped with fighters, is very much an anomaly.
As anyone who does air-crash investigation can tell you, there are two things common to every crash: 1) an eyewitness will tell you that the aircraft was on fire before impact, and 2) an eyewitness will tell you that the engine was sputtering before impact. This is true even if the aircraft in question is a glider or other non-engined, non-flammable type.