View Full Version : Why couldn't they just launch more fighters in Top Gun?

10-06-2000, 01:53 PM
In particular, the last dogfight sequence. Hollywood and Iceman are up against 5 MIGs, and Maverick is all ready to go on alert 5, but isn't given the green light to lanuch.

It's not until Hollywood is shot down that Maverick is allowed to launch. Why is this? Is there some kind of Navy rule that bars pilots from joining a dogfight if 2 fighters are already engaged? Why couldn't more fighters be launched to assist in the fight? Or is this just a movie goof?

10-06-2000, 01:55 PM
"launch the aircraft"
"we can't both catapults are broken sir?"
"how long will it take to fix?"
"ten minutes sir"
"bullshit ten minutes, this thing will be over in two minutes, get on it"

(in other words, they DID explain why)

10-06-2000, 02:03 PM
actually, that exchange takes place after maverick is launched. i am guessing that they didn't launch maverick (and merlin, a.k.a. tim robbins) because they either (a) thought ice ... man had it under control, or (b) wanted hollywood shot down so that they could raise the stakes a bit. this is, after all, jerry bruckheimer we're dealing with. the same jerry bruckheimer that produced "flashdance," you ask? yes, the very same.

10-06-2000, 02:05 PM
Oh. <hangs head in shame>

But, even after the catapults were fixed, how come more fighters weren't launched? After Maverick was launched, I remember Principal Strickland (Stinger) saying "get Willard and Simkin on alert 5" or something to that effect.

Basically, it seems like it was hard to find pilots to go out and fight. I know this isn't probably the case, but is there any truth to this?

10-06-2000, 02:09 PM
Dammit, again! Okay, Chris summed up my second question. I'll just go sit over here in the corner now and sulk.

10-06-2000, 02:46 PM
Not only that, but they don't just have a bunch of fighters sitting on deck, with armaments on them waiting to be launched. Alert 5 means that it takes 5 minutes to get the aircraft ready to take off...Alert 10 = 10 minutes and so on and so on. So if you think about the total time involved in that scene, it's doubtful if the Alert 10 aircraft would have been ready in time to do any good.

10-06-2000, 02:54 PM
As the skipper remarked "this thing will be over in two minutes." The long drawn out dogfights were the biggest errors in Top Gun. A few minutes at afterburner will use all the fuel the plane has. There are generally only a couple of planes at alert five at any one time. Anyone else could take 15-30 minutes to launch. No point in rushing because there won't be anything to see when you get there.

I spent a lot of time standing by alert five F-14s in the navy on the Ranger and Constellation. The F-14 cannot start its own engines so it has a GTC-85 starter and power cable conneted to it with the crew already strapped in. If the ship is in total radio silence it has to have a cable connected to sync the plane's inertial navigation with the ship's. When the call is given to launch the huffer (GTC-85) has to start its own little jet engine and power is turned on before the plane can be started.

Once the engines are started a self test is run of the computer that activates the intake ramps. These prevent supersonic air from getting to the engine so they're pretty important. The chains are removed and the plane taxied forward enough to verify that the tailhook will extend then it's taxied to the cat.

At the cat three troubleshooters/final checkers would visually inspeect the plane as it moves into place to make sure there are no loose panels or leaks. We'd have to check the launch bar plus the pressure gauges for the tailhook dashop and the canopy system. Remember Goose hitting the canopy? That's virtually impossible but another story. A gas piston is what ejects the approx 300lb canopy away from the plane. I shudder when I remember myself standing in the nose wheel well, in front of the node gear, walking backwards as I checked the gauges while the plane taxied. I must have been out of my freaking mind.

Once on the cat the checkers would position around the plane to wait for the pilot to extend the wings wo we could check flaps, slats and air bags. When ready to launch the pilot would go to military power and wipe out the controls. This is a couple of seconds before launch and until that point we don't have confirmation the flight controls even work. When the pilot puts the throttle in afterburner we'd have to make sure both engines were in perfect sync at all five stages. Assymetry could put a plane into a spin. When the checkers are satisfied we'd relay a thumbs up and then the cat officer and pilot would signal to launch.

I loved doing that. It was an adrenaline rush every time. At the aft station I'd be so close to the afterburner flame I once had my beard singed when the wind shifted. Our all time record for launch time was 2:35, and then only by violating every saftey rule we could think of. Damn I'm glad I have a desk job now.

Milton De La Warre
10-06-2000, 03:27 PM
Basically because it was a movie, and they did what was good for the storyline.

We could do a whole site on what was bogus in that movie when comapred to the way it really is.

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