Coffin corner

I will go ahead and assume that if you are a Chicken Wings fan and tuning in weekly, you will have also seen the new Top Gun movie already. We both absolutely loved it! Not sure if they catered exactly to our generation or what exactly it was, but I for one was ready for a good old fashion flying movie and this one delivered.

Of course the experienced aviator must bear in mind that this is still Hollywood. I bet some Hollywood guy thumbed through a glossary of a jet aerodynamics book and/or was handed the ASA book “Aerodynamics for Naval Aviators” while prepping for this movie and thought “coffin corner” is a really cool name, let’s use it, HAHA. In the real world, as you can imagine, it has nothing to do with cresting a mountain peak upside-down pulling 8+ G with anti-aircraft guns pointing at you. Granted, the real coffin corner could potentially kill you just as much. I will not get into the exact definition here (google is your friend), just know it is neither and issue on a Cessna 172 nor a Twin Otter. But if Chuck wants to apply for the regional airlines, he better look up the term because it is a standard interview question.

Other things they got exactly right in the movie. My air force ground crew buddies tell me, the way and sequence they fired up the start cart to start the F-14 would actually start the aircraft. Obviously, they did a lot of research. And you can see on their faces, that the G’s they’re pulling are real G’s, HAHA!

What else did you find that wasn’t accurate? And did you guys like the movie?

I feel the inaccuracies help us because it is more potential material for Chuck and Roost Air, lol.


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14 comments on “Coffin corner
  1. Bernd says:

    If you just want it bad enough, clench your teeth and look very determined, you can go faster than anyone else. And you can pull tighter turns. And make the trip in 15 seconds less than theoretically possible. Totally accurate.

    And the initial scenes? “Oh, they want Mach 10, but only a Mach 9 flight is approved, so they’ll cancel the project, unless we make an unapproved Mach 10+ flight, in which we destroy the test vehicle.” Sure, that’s how it’s done!

    And yeah, that’s totally what SAM batteries look like.

    Great footage, of course, but the story was even worse than in the original movie. And has America become a lot more prudish in the meantime?

    What did they get right? Going inverted to fly over a crest, and lots of general flying stuff.

    Overall, I thought it was a good movie, but not great. Nowhere near the class of the original.

  2. J Segal says:

    I’d say they ripped the plot of ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ off of the original ‘Top Gun’, ‘Hot Shots!’, and ‘Iron Eagle’.

    The cinematography was absolutely excellent. The plot…not that anybody watches these things for the plot (ok, maybe Chuck), but…wait, really? You’re not kidding? You’re asking for accuracy from the plot of a ‘Top Gun’ movie? Realism? Good sense? Something that doesn’t look like a parody of itself?!?

    And that lack of realism is a shame, because unlike the first time around, Tom Cruise can’t claim ignorance – he has a G-IV rating, and from what I understand, flies the aircraft himself. [It’s not just “coffin corner”, he apparently still doesn’t know what a hard-deck is, either. Also, Mach 10.]

    The quotes – you guys have material for a long, long time. Getting shot down because ‘you told me not to think!’ – taken out of context, I can definitely see Chuck or Jason written all over that.

    Incidentally, everything I needed to know about aviation I learned from ‘Hot Shots!’. ‘Airplane!’, too; a random reference to ‘Airplane!’ will get nearly every line-pilot laughing. It would also be a great source for you guys, though it may have been done to death. I invite any random commenter to disagree.

  3. Mo Davies says:

    Due to ongoing ill-health, and with a view to COVID, we are still in “Heimgefangenis”, therefore we are waiting for the DVD to come out in the UK before we can see it.
    Please, not too many Plot Spoilers (what plot? Exactly!) before then.
    After over 2.5 years of self-isolation, my wife and I really miss the opportunity to fly out of the local grass strip again. GLOOM!

  4. Brian Ault says:

    Who saw the movie and thought, “this is just Star Wars with F-18’s?” They could have been shooting wamp rats on Tatooine and destroying the Death Star here too…

  5. So, where were the JHMCS helmets that Hornet pilots always fly with these days? Could it be an acknowledgement that pulling G’s with JHMCS means an automatic disability payment for veterans which isn’t so good for actors/actresses? 🙂

  6. PS: No comment re Super Hornet OBOGS working with an F-14, finding a fully fueled F-14 on the tarmac, various missile items and … etc etc etc.
    Keep repeating: Not a documentary! Not a documentary! 🙂 🙂

  7. Inferno says:

    At the end, Tom Cruise actually flew his Mustang!

  8. Ray L Rivera says:

    Plenty of superb aerial sequences (ALL the aircraft are the REAL stars of the movie.) Seeing that ‘a good pilot is always learning’ I’m disqualifying myself from any honest review. I’ll never learn enough about aviation and the moment I think I know it all is the day I quit flying forever cause I’ll be arrogant enough to get myself killed from ‘Hey watch this!” hubris.

  9. J Segal says:

    Ray – oh, come on, you’re welcome to say something, particularly on Top Gun movies. In this specific case, learning anything is immaterial. I refer you to this strip:

    [Incidentally, I’ll say again that the cinematography is excellent. The movie is worth watching just for those sequences by themselves…the rest, your mileage may vary, but the head chickens here have plenty of new material if they want it.]

  10. Robert Horton says:

    Wow, Chuck has eyes?!

  11. Ray L Rivera says:

    Awesome strip, J Segal! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  12. JL says:

    There are quite some reviews from real fighter pilots arround on youtube.. all loved the movie but pointed out that stuff thats hard to pick.
    The g-forces faces ironically wasnt that realistic.. it was becuase thats the face the actors put under actual real G forces.. but aparently real pilots under G forces put “boring” faces .. Phoenix (Monica Barbaro) was actually the one that put a more realistic face. Other stuff was the obvious excuse for not using the F-35 being bogus (F-35s can use laser guided bombs and laser themselves) the unrealistic way to execute a mission with just 4 planes when they would fly a strike with several groups with several functions (SEAD, CAP, EW) or the fact that the navy (or any air force) dont assamble a “top pilots” team for special missions.. they asign the mission to squadrons and they carry them cause there arent “top super pilots” (top Gun graduates are suposed to go back to their squadrons and teach what they learn to their mates so everyone ends up being the same).. Also while the paddle switch was right (Hornets are limited to 7.5G and the paddle switch allows up to 30% more for a total max of 10) you wont want to do that carrying a bag of fuel and LGBs hanging from the wings (wich they do a lot in the movie).
    But its a movie.. we all know that.

  13. Joshua says:

    When I went to CPT the instructor didn’t even know what coffin corner is. As altitude increases low speed stall increases due to increased angle of attack for the same amount of lift. High speed stall (mach tuck or comprehensibility) decreases with the speed of sound. Where the two meet is coffin corner.

    There is a really annoying tendency of textbooks to make everything so much more complicated than it really is. Part of it is uneducated people trying to sound smart and part of the problem is people trying to pretend to understand when they don’t. Jargon doesn’t make you an expert, contrary to popular belief.

  14. Val says:

    Loved the movie, but during the boost-the-fully-fueled F-14 part hubby went “huh!” I waited to ask until after the movie and he explained that Rooster hadn’t removed the safety from his ejection seat. That served a plot purpose, allowing Hangman to swoop in and save the day later, but neither of us could imagine any military pilot neglecting that step, even if it were customarily done by the aircraft ground crew. (Hubby is a former Navy aircraft mechanic, mostly on the F-4 and F-8.)

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