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Young Navy Officers, Jay and Meagan, have dreamt of becoming naval aviators flying the F-14 Tomcat since their childhoods. The film follows their two-and-a-half year journey as it takes them through dogfights in the Nevada desert, night landings on aircraft carriers in the Atlantic, and eventually to the biggest challenge young officers face: wartime deployments to Iraq. Written by
Filmmakers might not know that navy fliers are not called "Navy pilots", but rather "naval aviators", as seen in some of the between-scene titling. This is a distinction of great dignity to naval aviators who see themselves better fliers than other branch "pilots". See more »
Compelling stories, excellent flight footage, some questionable statistics
Many of the statistics claimed by Captain John Cole ("Sir Buckethead") range from dubious to patently false. First, he claims that 1 of every 1,000 applicants get into the Naval Academy, or 0.1%, whereas the actual figure according to the College Board is 14% or approximately one in seven. Captain Cole was off by a factor of 140.
Captain Cole also claims that only 1 of every 10,000 applicants are admitted to flight school, 30-40% of admits graduate flight school, 15% of graduates get jets, and 1% of pilots with jets get to fly to F-14. By Captain Cole's statistics, if every person in the United States Armed Forces in a given year (approximately 2,900,000 active and reserve) applied to flight school, 290 would be admitted, 87-116 would complete flight school, 13-17 would get jets, and 0.13 to 0.17 people would get to fly the F-14. The Navy, then, would produce a new F-14 pilot once every six to eight years.
Captain Cole ends his random-number-generating soliloquy by pointing out that when he went through flight school 1 in 10,000 aspirants got to fly the F-14, but today the figure is probably around 1 in 100,000. Again, if every member of the United States Armed Forces aspired to fly the F-14, then only 29 would achieve their goal. More realistically, if every member of the United States Navy (about 332,000) aspired to fly the F-14, then, only 3.32 people would make the grade, which would leave 1.32 F-14 pilots after accounting for Jay and Meagan, but also would not match his previous claims above.
There is no doubt that operating air superiority fighters like the (now retired) F-14 is a highly sought-after gig in the United States Navy. However, the producers of this film could've performed a bit of vetting on their interview subject's claims before deciding to include his commentary in the final version.
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