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Midair Collision

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Here's a phrase that apparently the airlines simply made up: "near miss". They say that if two planes almost collide, it's a near miss. Bullshit, my friend. It's a near hit! A collision is a near miss!
"Look, they nearly missed!"
George Carlinnote 

So you have a bunch of flying things, usually aircraft, and something's destroying them. How to make it look cool? By having one of the planes damaged enough to cause it to veer off course and crash into another airplane.

See also Just Plane Wrong.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Films — Animation 
  • Jumba actually does this to Gantu at the end of Lilo & Stitch with his spaceship (originally a stolen passenger jet) so that Stitch can rescue Lilo.
  • In Up, a group of dogfighters get distracted by a SQUIRREL!! (well, not really), and proceed to crash into one another.
  • Another Pixar example would be the scene in Cars 2 where Mater and Finn McMissile are both attempting to flee from Grem and Acer at Tokyo Airport, and in the process one of McMissile's projectiles collides with those of the villains.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Peter Jackson's King Kong (2005), one of the biplanes smashes into another biplane. Possibly justified as Kong did kind of throw the plane at the other one.
  • In Transformers, Starscream shoots up a squadron of F-22's, causing one of them to spin of of control and crash into another one.
  • In Head of State, a presidential candidate and his running mate have their private jets collide when landing, apparently due to them using their cell phones at the time. This sets up the plot to end up with the main character as the candidate.
  • Barely averted in Left Behind (2014), where Rayford Steele tries to avoid a jet without its pilots heading straight for his. The only thing that happens is wing damage, as it causes the jet to leak fuel as it's headed back toward New York.
  • Memphis Belle: Luke wants to have a go at firing the guns, and succeeds in shooting down a German fighter—which inadvertently crashes into the rookie crew's bomber. Like this.

  • Kicks off the plot of Millennium (1983), with wristwatches set for bizarre times or outright running backward quickly calling attention to the fact that the crash was even stranger than it initially appears.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A number of episodes in Breaking Bad's second season start with a Cold Open of a mysterious crime scene that that season finale ultimately reveals to be the wreckage of a Midair Collision that was indirectly caused by the main characters.
  • One of the Emergency! TV movies, “Survival on Charter 220” centers on one between a passenger jet and a small charter craft. Wreckage rains down on a neighborhood and starts fires. Station 51 and several more respond, though only John and Roy appear. Squad 51 gets totaled by falling bricks from a house by the end. Luckily, it wasn’t occupied.
  • It wasn't shown on screen, but it was invoked by terrorists in 24, using a MacGuffin to crash two planes together.
  • World's Dumbest... occasionally provides a Downplayed example of two skydivers colliding. Each time it happens, the commentators point out that they had the entire damn sky to play around in and shouldn't have collided.
  • Ultraseven: In "Search for Tomorrow!", the Kanan aliens would jam plane communications, causing an accident at the beginning of the episode. Furuhashi himself had a close call.
  • Return of Ultraman has flying kaijuu Beakon jam aerial communications and broadcast the resulting air mishaps on TV in the early morning hours. This episode borrowed Stock Footage from the Ultraseven episode above, never mind that the footage is shot in broad daylight!

    Tabletop Games 
  • Flying Circus, being a game that realistically simulates air combat, has rules for when two planes collide. As the player's aid remarks: "it's bad," damaging both planes based on speed.

    Video Games 
  • This is one of the most embarrassing ways to fail a mission in the Ace Combat games, especially crashing into a bomber you are chasing or a plane you already shot down.
  • Dakka Skwadron: Ramming enemy planes is a valid combat maneuver (it is a game about orks flying planes after all), although they have to be close enough for it to work (thankfully it's made easier via Quick Time Event).
  • From the Depths: With a physics engine that reacts to a crafts shape, thrust, and drag in relation to its center of mass this is not an uncommon occurrence for dog fighting aircraft. Usually it is caused by the damaged craft suddenly losing control and veering into another craft.
  • Secret Weapons Over Normandy: Can be done, although it's very difficult and does almost no damage to either participant.
  • In MechWarrior Living Legends, collisions between aerospace fighters are almost invariably lethal to both participants, and are often caused when two allied players with No Peripheral Vision clip wings and then smash each other when chasing down a single enemy scout plane. The magic of the CryEngine physics engine means that sometimes clipping wings will launch one player into a vomit-inducing wild spin as they plummet helplessly to the ground.

    Western Animation 
  • Happens in the American Dad! episode "A Ward Show" when Principal Lewis plans to kill himself and Steve by driving his car over the Grand Canyon. However, the white man and black boy they encountered earlier are doing the same thing and the two cars collide into each other in mid-air.
  • Happens near the end of the episode of Quack Pack where Donald Duck is forced to go back into the navy and accidentally tampers with the computer controlling the airplanes on the aircraft carrier.
  • In Teen Titans there are a bunch of missiles heading toward a bridge so Speedy starts jumping on each of them to change the course so they crash into each other.

    Real Life 
  • This isn't common in real life, but when multiple RC planes are flying in close proximity, as seen here, it can happen.
  • For full-sized planes, there were cases in WWII of very tightly packed bomber groups having planes be damaged by debris from other planes being destroyed, or fighters being hit by the debris of a slower opponent that was just destroyed. The few pilots foolhardy enough to attempt Air Jousting ran a serious risk of this.
    • In the final months of WWII, the German Luftwaffe tried deliberately causing this as a last-ditch effort. Although they took down a few Allied bombers with this tactic, it was too little, too late.
    • It was more frequent common in the earlier days of flying. The Other Wiki lists over sixty examples of such collisions. It's not a huge number given that they're spread over a 93-year span, but it does happen (and many of the systems that currently exist to prevent them came into effect only after such a collision made it clear they were necessary). note 
      • The frequency of collisions involving commercial airlinersnote  has drastically reduced since the introduction of TCASnote  in the late 1980s, but it still occurs at a rate of perhaps once every decade.
    • Due to the way that air navigation routes are set up (planes navigating from one recognizable landmark to another, or riding radio waves from radio stations), there are a series of so-called Air Lanes, not entirely unlike highways on the ground. Pilots are reminded to keep an eye out for other traffic wherever these lanes intersect, or over aforementioned landmarks and radio stations. For similar reasons, airports are occasionally the site of collisions.
  • Occurred in 2001 over Hainan Island when an American spy plane collided with a Chinese interceptor. The Chinese pilot was killed and the spy plane was forced to land and its 2-dozen crewmembers were detained for 10 days until diplomatic efforts got them released and returned to the U.S.