6 popular myths about fighter pilots that Hollywood has instilled in us

What can be sacrificed to the movie industry? Millions of dollars, the laws of physics, and, of course, common sense. In general, for the sake of entertainment in the movie can be sacrificed almost everything! In general, there is nothing wrong with clichés, as long as they work. Alas, the abuse of simplifications and assumptions leads to a huge number of myths and stereotypes in the public sphere. For example, about jet aviation.

Abuse of the afterburner

Engaging the afterburner does allow more power to be released and at the same time the aircraft can be appreciably accelerated. Activation of the afterburner is indeed accompanied by the appearance of tongues of flame from the engine nozzle. However, in the movies the effectiveness of afterburner is greatly exaggerated, as well as the amount of fire bursting out of the nozzle. Afterburner is used only in exceptional situations, as its activation leads to a sharp increase in fuel consumption and rapid wear of aircraft engine components.

Wing to wing

In almost all movies planes fly very close to each other, which is also not true. Even at air shows for the sake of “showmanship” the planes do not get as close to each other as they are shown in most movies. Of course, movies have an excuse: the frame is not rubber and it is necessary to cram in as many objects as possible. In real battle situations jets are often kept several kilometers away from each other. Even the tightest aviation formation known as the “Wall of Eagles” requires a minimum distance of 1.5 km between aircraft. Only in the pre-revolutionary era did the planes actually fly “against each other”. This was primarily due to the underdevelopment of communication and surveillance atrocities.

Single Ace

It’s understandable: the main character in a movie should be so cool that even men of traditional orientation would want a child from him! In reality, however, aerial combat is a team effort. Even if there are only two fighters clashing in the sky, in reality ground-based air defense facilities are also taking an active part in the process. Very often it is they who decide the outcome of the “duel” of the two pilots. Under normal conditions fighters never work alone. Moreover, no military pilot would take an unnecessary risk, also because the main task is probably not just to shoot down enemy planes…

Spectacular duels

The last time “spectacular” close-combat aircraft duels took place was during World War II. As missile weapons and jet aviation evolved, so did the distance of fire contact. Real modern air combat is incredibly far from what is shown in Hollywood movies. Very often the outcome is decided by one or two missiles, or maybe there will be no hits at all and everyone will go home this time. But most importantly: in life, modern airplanes are hardly ever encountered at short range.

Intense cannon fire

Very often in the movies is shown how a modern fighter fires air cannons for a long and hard time. It is physically impossible. The ammunition of 20-30 mm automatic guns usually consists of up to 500 rounds. At the same time the rate of fire of modern aviation guns is about 100 rounds per second. In other words, the ammunition of such a gun is enough for just a few short bursts.

Catching up with a missile

A rocket playing catch-up with an airplane is probably the most common cliché. Such scenes are always very dramatic, but have nothing to do with reality. First of all, it is important to understand that guided missiles cannot perform complex pirouettes after a combat vehicle. Even the most maneuverable missile is not capable of turning around after the first miss and continuing to follow the aircraft by fundamentally changing its initial trajectory. All that the homing system is capable of – to correct the initial course, but no more than that. At least for now.

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