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10 Things Hollywood Gets Wrong About Aviation

10 Things Hollywood Gets Wrong About Aviation

One of the most egregious examples of Hollywood taking creative license is in aviation films.

Hollywood has created so many airplane myths over the decades. At this point, even if they wanted to start filming the truth. They would still have to film their lie.

Because after 1000’s of movies showing Hollywood’s aviation lies, filmgoers now believe those lies are true.

Here’s Our List Of Top 10 Things Hollywood Gets Wrong About Aviation

#10 One-Shot To Land The Airplane

In the movies they always make it seem that the pilot and/or hapless non-pilot has to make a desperate landing the first time.

In reality, pilots are taught to go around and try again if the landing isn’t right.


#9 Engine Failure

Many films use engine failures on commercial flights to facilitate action and drama.

Many of the aircraft Hollywood shows have 2,3, and even 4 engines, but as soon as one goes down then according to Hollywood, only a miracle can save you now.

Unfortunately for La La Land, a commercial airline is more than capable of reaching their destination and safely landing with just one engine running.

In fact, they are designed with this very contingency in mind.


#8 Turbulence

Ah, Turbulence, the great spiller of drinks, and destroyer of planes.

Hollywood movies love to use turbulence as a means of giving the audience a cheap jump-scare.

In most cases, the lights in the cab will flicker or dim and oxygen masks will fall from their hiding places over each passenger seat.

The truth is, turbulence is a normal everyday occurrence, and airline pilots are well aware of any rough spots on their route and tend to avoid them.

But even if an Aircraft is suddenly caught in the most vicious turbulence imaginable. Unlike what you see in the movies, a plane will not simply disintegrate.

Airplane designs are stress-tested to withstand 150% of the maximum stress they could ever experience in Earth’s atmosphere.


#7 Air pressure

Movies like Air Force One popularized the idea that when a hole is ripped into the airplane the pressurized cabin air escaping threatens to suck out everything that is not strapped in or screwed on.

While the pressure outside the plane is lower than inside the plane, there is not enough difference to create such the extreme vacuum that Hollywood has made so popular.

In fact, after only a few seconds, not a few minutes like Hollywood fantasies, the pressure would quickly equalize and passengers would barely notice anything was amiss.


#6 Opening an Aircraft door While Flying

It is absolutely impossible for a human to open an airplane door at 30,000 feet, regardless of what Hollywood wants you to believe.

This is due to the pressure difference between the outside of the aircraft and the inside.

In order for a person to open an aircraft door in flight, they must be able to exert enough force to move 24,000 pounds of pressure.

Even at much lower altitudes, the pressure (1,000 pounds per square inch) is still too great to open the door.


#5 Lightning Blows Up The Planes Or Knocks Out All Electrical Systems

While Hollywood makes a plane getting hit by lightning a 1-in-a-million shot, and always causes catastrophic damage.

Unless the film is set in the early 1960s, then Hollywood is lying.

Since the PanAm Boeing 707 disaster in 1962, in which a lightning strike caused a fuel tank to explode, all future aircraft have been designed to withstand a lightning strike.

The truth is every commercial plane is estimated to be struck by lightning at least once a year.

If a plane were to be hit by lightning, while passengers would certainly be startled. The only thing that would happen is they may see a brief flash of light and hear a loud roar.

But airplanes would suffer little to no damage because planes are now designed so that the plane becomes part of the lightning bolt’s path to the ground.


#4 Using Jet Fuel To Blow A Plane Up

Jet fuel, at least the type used in commercial airlines around the world (called JET-A1 or JP-1A), does not ignite easily.

But that hasn’t stopped Hollywood from using it as a plot point, and one of the best examples of this is the end of Diehard 2.

When John McClane (Bruse Willis) is thrown off the wing of a taxing airplane as he falls he rips open the fuel outlet.

While laying on the snow-covered runway as the plane starts taking off, McClane takes out a lighter, says ‘Yippee Ki Yay Mother F****r, and lights the fuel, blowing up the plane and the bad guys.


#3 Paper…Paper…Paper

#7 of this list addressed Hollywood’s fictitious use of Air Pressure as a plot device to suck bad guys right out a plane.

But for a moment let’s suppose such a thing is real.

Then where does all that flying paper come from?

Every single time a plane supposedly gets depressurized, Hollywood shows an almost comical amount of paper fluttering about.

There so many sheets of paper blowing about, it’s as if these planes replaced their first-class section, with an office max.


2. No, You Can’t Board a Plane by Climbing On Its Landing Gear, and You Can’t Stow Away in the Planes Belly

This is a common plot device to get the hero on board a plane in action films.

The hero barely manages to get on the plane by climbing on its landing gear, and then simply waits for the gear to retract, and Taa Daa your magically inside the plane’s undercarriage.

Then the hero simply has to wait until the opportune time to enter the main cabin and defeat the bad guys.

However, if you feel inspired to take the same risk, please sign your life insurance over to me.

If you tried to enter a plane by holding onto the landing gear then you are almost certain to fall to your death.

Of course, the plane’s landing gear can’t be retracted until the wheels are off the ground. And in order for that to happen a typical commercial airliner must be traveling between 160-180 mph.

Even worse, by the time a pilot typically retracts the landing gear, the airplane will be traveling at speeds well over 200 mph.

To put that in perspective a Category 5 Hurricane must have a minimum sustained wind speed of 157 mph.

Even if you miraculously survived your landing gear entrance.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, 77% of people who try to hide in the undercarriage (belly) of a commercial airline do not survive due to hypothermia.


#1 The Outside Of The Aircraft Doesn’t Match The Interior

Hollywood loves to trick us on the exterior of an airplane just to show us the inside of another, completely different airplane.

In the 2011 film Bridesmaids, the interior shots of a scene show the characters onboard a wide-body double-gang jet.

However, if the film shows a shot of the aircraft on the runway, then it’s a catchy Boeing 757.

In the 2009 film Up In the Air, George Clooney is shown sitting in a large chair on an American Airlines plane.

But, when the plane lands it, he’s now sitting in a Delta single-aisle MD-88 jet, which doesn’t have this type of seat.

in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, some interior scenes are filmed in a large body 747 jet, but when the jet returns from the gate we see a luxury Boeing 767 liner instead.

There are countless other examples of mixing and matching aircraft types in movies, and while most moviegoers don’t notice these mistakes, thousands of moviegoers do.

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