Top Gun (1986) Poster



Character error 

The term "bogey" is misused throughout the movie. A bogey is an unidentified aircraft. Once identified, it is referred to as a "friendly" (for friendly aircraft), "bandit" (for non-friendly aircraft) or "hostile" (for non-friendly aircraft that may be fired at). In USN terminology, a non-friendly surface radar contact is a "skunk".

Audio/visual unsynchronised 

During both the training missions and dogfight scenes, the sound effects for the targeting system and the radar/missile warning are nearly identical. In reality, those two sounds would be completely different so as to give the pilot no doubt as to what's going on (as evidenced when Maverick appears confused when he hears a "lock on" tone when Jester "kills" him while Maverick's chasing Viper).
When the command deck officer informs Stinger that the catapults are broken and that they can't launch aircraft, the officer's lip movements don't match what he says.
When Goose is playing "Great Balls of Fire" in the bar, the movement of his hands does not match the music.

Boom mic visible 

In Viper's office (visible in the top right as Jester and Viper converse following Maverick leaving the room).

Character error 

When Maverick and Charlie are having dinner, Otis Redding's "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" comes on and Maverick remembers his "folks loved it", then states his father "disappeared in an F-4 November 5th, 1965," yet this song was not written until November 1967.
In the briefing before the first hop, Jester (whose character's last name is Heatherly) is seen wearing one of Maverick's "Pete Mitchell" nametags.
When the crew sings You've Lost that Lovin' Feeling, they omit the second verse, and change the line "But baby, baby I know it" to "But baby, believe me, I know it." It seems highly unlikely that every man in the room would make the same exact singing error. Additionally, the second verse is missing when Charlie plays the song on the jukebox at the end of the film.
During the final dogfight, Slider tells Iceman that there is a MiG "on your left, 3 o'clock." The 3 o'clock direction is to the right; 9 o'clock would be the left.
In the classroom, most of the textbooks on the desk have nothing to do with aviation, such as an astronomy book on Maverick's desk.
In the flat spin sequence, Goose calls "Altitude 8,000, 7,000, 6,000", but when he calls "6,000" the altimeter is passing through 2,000 feet.
In the opening flight scene, Cougar & Merlin are in plane #114 and Maverick & Goose are in plane #203. When Cougar is in missile lock from the Mig, he calls in "Mustang this is ghost rider 117"
The signal that Maverick is given before he takes off for the final fight scene is not the launch signal, but rather the "remove power" signal. This signal is given early in F-14 launch procedures, not right before launch.
When the F-14 engines flame out before the flat spin, Goose says, "Engine one is out," and the next shot shows the number two (right) engine "flaming out." When Goose says, "Engine two is out," we see the number one (left) engine "flaming out." (The flame outs are actually the engines being normally brought out of afterburner.)
Many errors are made when describing maneuvers that various aircraft have made. This is especially noticeable during the briefing before the first hop.


On hop 31, the planes clearly take off early in the morning, but once they're off the ground, it's high noon.
During the climactic dogfight scene, Stinger is told "Both catapults are broken, we can't launch any aircraft yet, sir." However, the U.S.S. Enterprise, and all subsequently built Nimitz-class carriers have FOUR catapults, so even if two were broken, aircraft could still have been launched.
Throughout the film in various dogfight scenes, the wrong pilot can be seen in the RIO seat of the F-14. For instance, in the initial carrier scenes, Sundown can be seen briefly as Maverick's RIO. In the training Hops, both Merlin and a blue-helmeted pilot can be seen in Maverick's RIO seat.
When Maverick is cruising on his motorcycle right after arriving at Miramar, it is high noon. In the very next shot, the sun is setting.
During the first hop, the sky is clear with minimal cloud cover most of the time, but in the shot near the end of the hop where we see the F-14 chasing the A-4 from above, the sky is extremely cloudy.
The bird cage at Charlie's place disappears from behind her when 'Dock of the Bay' starts playing.
In the opening scene when all planes take off, it is sunrise. As they intercept the "bogeys" it is high noon. Towards the end of flying time it is nighttime.
Exactly where Hop 31 takes place is totally inconsistent. When Maverick is in the flat spin he is above a rocky, desert area, yet somehow crash lands in the ocean nowhere near any desert terrain.
Stinger's ribbons on his chest.
The distance between the aircraft after Goose takes the picture.
The champagne bottle during Maverick and Charlie's dinner at her house.
Maverick and Iceman seem to change planes during the final fight scene. Maverick launches in an F-14 bearing a 104 on the nose. Once he lands he exits an F-14 with 114 on the nose while Iceman exits an F-14 with 114 on the nose.
In one frame in the opening flight scene, we hear Cougar talking, but in the "first person perspective" shot, we see Maverick's helmet reflected in the cockpit.
During the "I lost him in the sun" dialogue during the opening carrier flight, the line of dialogue comes from the Cougar/Merlin plane. But the reflection on the canopy is clearly Maverick's helmet.
When Maverick leaves Charlie's house after he has dinner with her, there is a For Rent sign in her yard (as there is when he drives by her house later in the movie), but there wasn't one when he arrived.
In the elevator, Charlie's ear alternates between being tucked under her cap and being untucked between shots.
The squadron markings on both Iceman and Maverick's Tomcats change a few times. Both of the original markings are not real Tomcats squadron markings.
Maverick's wristwatch changes several times during the training flight.
In close-up facial footage of Sundown, he has the word "SUNDOWN" on the front of his helmet. When you see him in the background of Maverick footage, and on the ground, he is wearing the same helmet, but without the writing on it.
In the mission when Maverick has Sundown as his RIO, Jester's plane alternates between a plain gray paint job, and a camoflauge one.
In hop 19, Hollywood and Maverick are chasing Jester while Viper gets away. Hollywood's plane is in front of Maverick's but when Maverick breaks away to go after Viper, it is the F-14 in front that pulls away.
Maverick's watch before and after the training flight.
Maverick's tailhook retracts too quickly when he decides to rescue Cougar. Additionally, it is visible in a later shot.
Charlie gains her folder when she exits the ladies room.
Iceman suddenly appears next to Wolfman in the locker.
Maverick's hair during the elevator scene.
In the scene on the carrier after the last dogfight, Ice gets in Maverick's face and they discuss being each others wingman. When the discussion starts Maverick takes off his sunglasses. At the end of the discussion, others lift Maverick up in the air on their shoulders. His sunglasses are already on.
In the elevator scene, Maverick walks through a "closed" elevator door.
Maverick's arms alternate between on his cheek, in his lap and folded between shots during Viper's lecture at the beginning of the picture.
First date between Charlie and Maverick, level of wine in bottle goes down then up and down then up and then some before the first drop is poured.
Numerous positional inconsistencies during the volleyball game.
Through most of the first class at Top Gun, Slider has his arm behind Iceman, but right before he says, "The plaque for the alternates is down in the ladies room," Slider suddenly disappears.
Maverick leaves the volleyball game with no belt on. He arrives at Charlie's house with one on.
Amount of ice in Maverick's glass in the airport bar.
Viper's sunglasses after Maverick's first landing after the accident.
Maverick's sunglasses are (not) on when Slider picks him up after they return to the carrier.
Position of the wine bottle at Charlie's place.
In the stairwell, Iceman puts on a watch twice.
When Maverick is riding his motorcycle alongside the runway, after the F-14 takes off and turns to the left the shot changes and shows Maverick riding past lighting standards heading toward the runway as indicated by the strobe lights.
After dinner at Charlie's, Maverick and Charlie have a talk and in the background there's a parrot eating a peanut (sitting on one leg). The peanut disappears and reappears between shots.
When Charlie gives Maverick a dinner invitation, she clearly writes it on a form, but on close up of the invitation, it is written on a blank sheet of paper.
After Charlie hands out the dinner invitation to Maverick, Slider tells him "Crash and burn, huh, Mav?" while holding a plane model in front of his face. In the very next shot the plane disappears.
When Cougar is freaking out, he looks twice at his family photo. The altimeter reads 31,500 ft the first time, and *9,300 ft (the first number obscured) a second later. But he is flying straight and level.
Before and during the "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" scene at the bar where Maverick and Goose (et al) serenade Charlie, Maverick's nametag clearly reads "Peter Mitchell," with an "r." Afterwards, when he follows Charlie into the women's room, you can now clearly see his nametag reads "Pete Mitchell," sans the "r."
When Maverick pulls Goose from the water and into the life raft, the glove on Goose's his left hand is rolled down exposing the skin on his wrist. In the next shot as he's lifted into the helicopter the glove is rolled up over his sleeve protecting his arm from the spray.
After Charlie gives Maverick the dinner invite, Slider is playing with the model airplane while seated directly next to the classroom window. In the following scene where Maverick approaches Slider and tells him he stinks, Slider is now seated in the chair to the left of the one he was previously seated in.
After Iceman's plane is strafed for the second time, Slider says it's OK both engines are running. After the first strafe, they shut down one engine. The second strafing must have restarted the turned off engine.
In the showers, Slider was sitting on the bench. When Maverick comes over and leans on it, Slider isn't shown. Then the far shot shows Slider getting up from the same spot where he was sitting.
During the first briefing, Chipper is smoking a cigarette. In the very next shot, he has no cigarette, and both of his hands are clasped together just under his knee.
When Maverick visits Viper to discuss his options about graduation after the death of Goose, the color of the sky changes drastically as the two of them exit and start walking away from the house.
When Maverick launches as the alert 5 aircraft in the final flight, there are at least three different sequences depicted. On run up to mil power and AB, it's a shore based launch. Then a launch from the number 1 bow cat. Finally, departure from a waist cat with aircraft parked on both bow cats.
After the final live dog fight with the MIGS, the Commander of the carrier comes into the pilots' locker room with a lit stub of a cigar to tell Maverick that he (Maverick) can choose his next assignment. During the scene the cigar becomes significantly larger than the first stub. When the Commander departs, the stub cigar reappears.
During Charlie's first briefing, Chipper's sunglasses alternate between being on and off.
During the final dog fight scene Maverick fires a missile at a MIG jet (the missile is launched from behind the MIG jet) and successfully blows off the left wing of the plane (as viewed from behind the plane). The next scene shows the same MIG in a descending flat spin, however it is clearly the right wing that is missing from the plane.
When reviewing the telemetry data, Charlie is wearing a gray skirt and a white polo shirt, but when she then chases after Maverick outside the building, she is wearing a black skirt and a white button-up shirt.
After Iceman says the alternate trophy for the runners-up is in the ladies room, Goose starts to laugh. In one shot, his hand isn't on Maverick's shoulder, but when he finishes laughing, it is.

Crew or equipment visible 

At many points during the briefing prior to the first hop, you can clearly see men reflected forward in the actor's glasses, presumably crew members. They can't be characters since Charlie is the only character standing in front of the men briefing them at this time.
When Maverick is driving his motorcycle along the runway with the planes taking off, you can see the bed of the truck he's atop at the bottom of the screen.

Errors in geography 

The final dogfight happens over water, yet a mountain is visible in the corner of one shot.

Factual errors 

When Kelly McGillis' character, "Charlie", exits her vehicle after chasing Tom Cruise's character, "Maverick", you see a Department of Defense (DoD) sticker on the driver's side of her windshield. These stickers are what allow military and government employees to access U.S. Military Installations. The bottom strip of each DoD sticker is color coded to denote rank or position; Blue for officers, Red for enlisted, and Green for civilian government contractors. The strip on Charlie's is color coded Blue, not Green as it should be, which would indicate she is an officer, which she clearly is not given that during her character's introduction in the movie the Top Gun class is informed she is a civilian and not an officer, so they do not salute her.
In the opening, a full-screen explanation of the Top Gun program says it was created "to insure that pilots receive the training..." etc. The correct word in this case is "ensure" as in 'to guarantee.'
Most of the Air Combat Manuevers (ACM's) depicted in the movie involve old-fashioned, close-in dogfighting that would be used for propeller, World War II aircraft. Real air combat maneuvers rarely occur within a mile of each other, as bogeys (unidentified aircraft) and bandits (enemy aircraft that have been fired upon) would never see each other in real combat and could kill each other from distances up to 60 miles away.
(USN) Fighter Weapons School is known as "TOPGUN" all one word.
There are several scenes of Maverick walking outdoors without a cap or hat; in the Navy and Marines, this absolutely is not done.
Aircraft produced by Mikoyan-Gurevich (MiG) are odd-numbered.
In the final engagement when Maverick says he is "supersonic," the next shot shows his F-14 with the wings in the extended position. For an F-14 to be traveling at supersonic speeds, the wings would have to in the swept back position. He could not have forgotten to sweep his wings back because the wing geometry of the F-14 is not pilot-controlled; it is controlled automatically by the flight computer.
Iceman and Slider wear patches and insignia from then Attack Squadron 25 (VA-25) now Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA-25) the "Fist of the Fleet." VA-25 never operated F-14s. At the time that the movie was filmed VA-25 flew A-7 Corsairs. Currently VFA-25 Flies the F/A-18C Hornet
Before the final engagement, Stinger says "Gentlemen, this is bullseye." "Bullseye" is a fixed point on a map, by which navigation instructions can be relayed over the radio, without giving any vital information away to possible enemies in the area. Aircraft carriers are constantly moving, and therefore would never be designated as "bullseye".
Merlin tells Cougar that they are "way low on gas," while he taps his fuel gauge. There is no fuel gauge for the RIO in the F-14 Tomcat.
When turning in his wings at the beginning of the film, Cougar talks about 'almost orphaning' his new baby daughter. If he'd died she would still have a mother.
Iceman, Goose and many of the other graduates of Top Gun are receiving orders about a hostile situation 12,000 miles away. In reality, procedural orders to a region-specific conflict would be issued to the trained pilots already in the area, those already attached to a fighter group, as the recent graduates were not even assigned to a squadron, let alone could travel halfway around the world in such a short time.
The center of the story at the pilot training school is a series of competitions that lead to the awarding of the "Top Gun" trophy. The real flight school has never had that trophy or anything like it, as the training is designed to encourage cooperation amongst the pilots.
In the final dogfight scene, when Iceman's plane is hit, they claim they are hit in the right engine; however, when they show the closeup of the bullet holes the "Rescue" point arrow is clearly visible. There is no rescue point on the engine nacelle of an F-14. Why would there be? These points are located on the front fuselage close to the cockpit.
The entire defensive capabilities of the F-14 are misrepresented. The F-14 is equipped with chaff dispensers to deceive radar-guided missiles, and flare dispensers to fool heat-seeking missiles, none of which were used in the film, presumably to disguise the real capabilities of the aircraft; yet, even at the time (1986) video games were already depicting these capabilities. Neither real world combat nor video games force the pilots to rely solely on evasive maneuvering to outrun or outsmart a missile, which, once locked on by an enemy, without active countermeasures would be all but impossible to out-maneuver.
In all shots showing the "Tomcat" radar screen, you see the sweep bar rotating in a 360 degree arc. That type of screen is only used for radars that spin 360 degrees. A Tomcat radar, and all TACAIR (TACtical AIRcraft) radars, progressively scan from side to side, changing elevation in set increments, so the correct radar screen would show a vertical bar moving from side to side.
Before the Final Furball, Stinger states that the Exocet Anti Shipping Missile can be launched in excess of 100Nm. When the movie was made the AM-39 Exocet was the in service missile and is only capable of a range of approximately 38Nm. Additionally none of the "MiG" fighters are carrying any Anti-Shipping Missiles.
During most flight sequences, safety pins and star wheels on left top head box of Martin Baker GRU-7A ejection seat are installed. Thus the seat is not armed and in any inverted maneuvers, seats would slide off ejection gun rails.
When Maverick destroys the first enemy fighter in the final battle, it plummets straight down. A fighter jet traveling at close to the speed of sound would not fall straight down when struck, it would continue on its previous course and then begin to fall downward.
Charlie wears Naval Aviator wings, and a Chief Petty Officer's rank insignia on her leather jacket, although she is a Government Civilian, and would not have earned either badge. It is against federal law to wear unearned badges and insignia on a military installation.
The squadron insignia that Maverick and Goose wear is from VAW-110 "Firebirds", which was an E-2C Hawkeye squadron, and never flew fighters.
Mission briefings contain classified information, and therefore would never be conducted in a hangar.
Viper mentions that he flew F-4s with Maverick's father in VF-51, aboard the USS Oriskany. VF-51 never served aboard the Oriskany, and they flew F-8 Crusaders in 1965, the year Maverick's father was shot down.
Toward the end of the movie, when Maverick is waiting on "Alert Five," the camera cuts between Maverick in the cockpit and outside, where carrier crew are working on "his" plane. The plane they are working on is actually an A-6 Intruder, not an F-14.

Incorrectly regarded as goofs 

Navy rules state on tactical jets, oxygen shall be worn from takeoff until landing, a rule broken throughout the movie. Real Navy/Marine Corps pilots break this rule all the time as well.
"Ladies Room" sign on the window of the toilets isn't inverted when Maverick goes inside. That's because we're looking in a mirror.
Flight crews are seen throughout the film wearing golf shirts under their flight suits. While it is more common to wear a t-shirt under the flight suit, in the 1980's up until the early 2000's, crews did have the option to wear a golf shirt with their squadron colors under their flight suits.
When Charlie chases down Maverick on his motorcycle her car has a blue DOD decal on its windshield. Blue decals are used for officers, red decals for enlisted. As a civilian employee she would have had a green DOD decal for her car. The vehicle "Charlie" is driving was borrowed from her "older date" at the beginning of the movie hence the vehicle having a blue DOD decal.
The F-14 #114 which crashes during practice is still used after the incident. This is probably a different plane altogether, though - it isn't that hard to paint a number on the side of an airplane.
When Maverick launches for the final dogfight scene, he shortly announces, "Maverick's supersonic. I'll be there in 30 seconds." The viewer may incorrectly think the air battle is taking place 150 miles away, which would mean it would take him almost 12 minutes to arrive (traveling at Mach one (at sea level, 761.2 mph, faster than it is at altitude), but the battle is 150 miles away from the disabled communication ship SS Layton which is being rescued, not 150 miles from the carrier from which the Tomcats were launched.
While all Navy pilots must have NOMEX flight gloves with them, they are not required to (and in fact, do not always) wear them.
Goose is depicted as a Lt (jg) and wears the proper insignia: on a white uniform, shoulder boards with one thick gold bar and one thin, and in khakis, a single silver bar (a full lieutenant wears double silver bars). (Some thought he was wearing full lieutenant insignia; they are similar.)
The insignia for a Navy Lieutenant happen to be the same as for Army and Air Force Captains. Thus, Maverick and Iceman are correctly wearing Lieutenant insignia.
Maverick's declaration of "I'm not leaving my wingman" may seem odd to some viewers, as the wingman's job is to follow the lead pilot. However, Maverick remembered the lesson that he learned when he lost a dogfight in school, as to why it is important to never leave your wingman. Had he done so, he would've put his crew and Iceman and Slider at risk.
At the end of the movie, Maverick and the rescued crew meet up on the fight deck. The viewer may incorrectly think the engagement has taken place 120 miles away (making it impossible for the rescued crew to arrive so quickly), but it in fact takes place 120 miles from the SS Layton, not the carrier (the viewer is not told how far from the carrier the battle occurs, though indications are that it is within 30 miles).

Revealing mistakes 

In the elevator scene, Charlie's hair is noticeably darker than in other scenes. This is because this scene was shot after principal photography, and Kelly McGillis had already dyed her hair for another film role. The filmmakers tried to hide her darkened hair with the cap, but it's still noticeable.
The F-14 crews were filmed in a discarded Navy cockpit that was not attached to the rest of the plane. This is why you can never see the wings or vertical stabilizers in the background when they show the actors "flying" in this cockpit.
Several times you can see missiles that are supposed to be live for combat hanging from aircraft wings. The missiles have a blue band around them indicating they are inert training missiles. Live missiles would have a yellow band as a warning of the live high explosive warhead.
When Maverick is launching from the carrier before the final battle, he goes directly into a roll when leaving ship. An F-14 taking off with full tanks of fuel wouldn't have gained enough speed to do this so soon. You can see while filming this (rear mounted camera), the plane that does the roll comes from a low-level flyby over side of the carrier. Also, the catapult Maverick supposedly launched from is "stacked" with parked aircraft.
The enemy Mig 28/F-5E Tiger II aircraft seen at at the end of the movie are supposed to be carrying Exocet anti-ship missiles. They are not. They are armed with Aim-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles and fuel tanks. The Exocet missile is large enough to be visible if it were carried.
Sundown wears a helmet with a sunburst-style motif on it. However, in the "walking to the planes" sequence prior to Hop 19, we can see another person wearing the same helmet (presumably the pilot Sundown is the RIO to), however the RIO he is walking with is a Caucasian.
In several scenes of planes taking off, mirrored images are used. This is easily identifiable because the red light that is supposed to be on the port side of the plane is on the starboard side.
During some of the training hops, you can clearly see that Merlin, not Goose, is Maverick's RIO.
When Maverick is riding his motorcycle along the runway, you can see the tie-down straps that hold him onto the trailer, visible on his front fender.
Maverick fires the same missile from the same wing station at least three times. This is because only two live missile launches were authorized by the military and so the footage is repeated many times throughout the film along with model shots.
In many of the third-person aerial scenes, you can see sunlight reflecting on the window of the airplane through which these scenes were filmed.
The shot of the inverted F-14 cockpit (close to the cockpit of the MiG-28) is flipped (lettering is reversed).
During the initial flight scenes with the MiG-28's, when Maverick is visible on the screen, Sundown's helmet (orange and white stripes) is reflected on the cockpit canopy. This is noticeable above and behind Maverick on the upper left side of the canopy.
In the very opening scene when the planes are landing on the carrier with the song 'Danger Zone' playing in the background you see an F-14 Tomcat with a red & white wing and the # on that jet is 515. The F-14 fighter jets used in most of the movie flight scenes are a solid dark gray all around. Later on again towards the end of the movie when they receive orders on the carrier to provide air support to the disabled ship SS Leighton, you see that very same video shot of the red & white 515 plane.
When the first images of the MIG are shown after the "unknown aircraft, inbound Mustang" call the camera angle initially is from underneath and then raises to a side-on profile of the aircraft. At that point there is a flash from the co-pilot/RIO position within the cabin and it looks like the 2nd officer is taking a photograph of the camera plane.
During the recovery of Goose and Maverick, you can see the safety cable attached to Tom Cruise.
Maverick's watch shows the same in multiple scenes set at different times of day.
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The goof items below may give away important plot points.


During the final dogfight, we several shot of Goose in the co-pilot seat when obviously he is dead and Merlin is Maverick's "RIO".

Errors in geography 

Though the final battle scene supposedly occurs in the open ocean, the carrier is docked in port during the celebration scene. The water around the carrier is calm and reflections of buildings can be seen in the water.

Factual errors 

The ejection sequence of an F-14 in the movie is false; first, there is a delay between the canopy release explosive bolts that allow it to fall away before the pilot is ejected to prevent the very mishap that occurred (Goose hitting the canopy after ejection). Second, even if it were possible that Goose would have hit the canopy after ejecting, the force would not have been strong enough to kill him, as the canopy would have shattered but Goose will still be alive, as the protection of his helmet alone would have prevented such a preposterous mishap.

Factual errors 

Victims rescued by the Coast Guard are always hoisted in a basket, never by the safety harness alone; thus, hoisting Goose from the water as they did is a violation of the proper rescue procedures.

Incorrectly regarded as goofs 

Following the flat spin and ejection sequence, Goose was wearing an MBU-14/P oxygen mask. However, when Maverick reaches him, Goose is face-down in the water. When Maverick pulls him upright, Goose's mask is unhooked from the right side of his helmet. Before an ejection, crews are taught to fasten their oxygen masks securely to not only provide oxygen at high altitudes, but also to prevent it from causing injuries. When Maverick and Goose ejected, they were both wearing their masks properly. As Goose was killed during the ejection, there is no explanation as to why his mask was undone in the water.

Incorrectly regarded as goofs 

During the "choice of assignments scene", after the final dogfight, the "late" Goose's name is seen on the red locker door. The padlock on Goose's locker is also unlocked. However, with the whole SS Layton crisis going on, and the hangar only having recently received news of Goose's passing, it isn't unlikely that it they would have put off cleaning out his locker.

See also

Trivia | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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