10 February 2013 11:00 PM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

The takeoff scenes are pretty accurate, says pilot Ben Edwards, but you'd never get a drunk like Denzel Washington's character into a cockpit today

There is no room for mavericks in flying. The best pilots are those who follow procedures to the letter, so I was wholly unconvinced by the idea, as depicted in this film, that a pilot high on alcohol and cocaine could successfully land a free-falling passenger plane.

I've never heard of a pilot with a major alcohol problem, but there is a big drinking culture. You'll see pilots and stewards drinking a lot on stopovers, and some captains put pressure on their younger co-pilots to drink to excess. It's not as bad as it used to be, though: older pilots talk about the "bad old days" of drinking, when you really could imagine a character like the pilot in the film, Whip Whitman (Denzel Washington »

- Laura Barnett

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