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.
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).
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".
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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'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.
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.
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.
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.'
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.
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.
Iceman, Maverick and several other of the graduates receive orders about a hostile situation, and are assigned to it. Since all of them already have squadron assignments this means some of them are suddenly and unexpectedly reassigned to a new squadron. For Maverick it is just a matter of returning "home" (Stinger's presence shows it is the same squadron as in the first act of the movie) but it makes no sense that Iceman and the others would be reassigned during a brewing crisis.
The 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.
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.
Viper wears four decorations which would be rare, if not impossible for a career fighter pilot to have earned. The first, is the Antarctica Service Medal, which, while authorized for all branches of service, is typically only awarded to USAF transport crews who Antarctica support airlift missions. The second, is the Coast Guard Arctic Service Medal. Not only do the Navy and Marines have their own equivalent medal, the Navy variant is typically only awarded to submarine crews, not aviators based on an aircraft carrier. Third, is a Multinational Force and Observers Medal. This was an Egyptian-Israeli peacekeeping mission which never involved fighter aircraft. Lastly, Viper also wears a Vietnam Presidential Unit Citation. This was only awarded to Americans for Humanitarian actions, a job not performed by carrier-based fighter pilots.
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.
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".
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.
Merlin tells Cougar that they are "way low on gas," while he taps his fuel gauge. The fuel gauge for the RIO in the F-14 Tomcat is only a digital read-out showing total fuel on board. The gauge tapped however was the pilot's gauge, which obviously Merlin would not be able to reach.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
When Maverick is launched on Alert Five, he is catapulted off the bow of the carrier. However in the next shot, the contrails of the tails indicate a takeoff trajectory from the secondary angled runway. Furthermore, in this shot the bow is now shown stacked with unused airplanes, which would render the depicted takeoff impossible.
This is likely due to the necessity of two separate takes to complete the depicted aileron roll, as an F-14 would not have the airspeed to execute such a maneuver so soon after launch.
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.
The canopy strike leading to Goose's demise is factually incorrect. The back of the ejection seat is taller than the pilot's head, which would absorb the entirety of any impact with the canopy. Furthermore, almost all ejection seats are equipped with "canopy breakers" which would shatter the canopy in the unlikely event a strike occurred. Finally, the probability of a jettisoned canopy remaining directly above an airplane in an uncontrollable spin is zero.
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.
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.