Hollywood’s Biggest Flight Scenes: A Reality Check

The starring helicopter of “Blue Thunder” Hollywood’s Biggest Flight Scenes: A Reality Check

Schwarzenegger in “True Lies”: In real life would he have rescued his daughter and brought down the terrorists? Hollywood’s Biggest Flight Scenes: A Reality Check

The A Team–“In real life, these guys would be lost” In action and sci-fi movies everything is possible, but can you really wrestle atop of an airborne airplane? The IAF Magazine headed out for some answers.

Shir Aharon Bram and Shir Golan

As we all know, in movies, anything is possible, including an airplane that keeps on flying after its wing falls off or helicopters that spiral through the cloudy skies. You may have doubted the acrobatic stunts seen on the big screen from time to time and wondered if they could occur in real life, which is why the IAF Magazine decided to go behind the scenes of a few memorable moments and see if they withstand a reality check.
And so, we recruited Captain Imberberg: Head of explosives in the equipment formation, who knows the Force’s explosives and science behind the aircrafts. We wondered which scenes have a hint of reality and which are totally made of the director’s fruitful mind.

The A-Team


The scene: Four American Military men who fought in the Vietnam War decided to handle a few very unlikely operations starting with complex hits and impossible rescues. They begin their journey with a focused mindset, courage, exceptional technical abilities and a lot of luck.
As the movie begins, the heroes conduct an escape from a Mexican hospital when their rescue vehicle is the hospital’s evacuation helicopter. After takeoff, the team members discover that an armed combat helicopter if chasing them and its pilot is fast and furious. The helicopter launches air to air missiles towards them but the team members turns off their helicopter’s engine because its heat draws the missiles towards them and successfully dodges the deadly pilot.


Question: Is it possible to turn off a helicopter’s engine while flying and restart it again?

Expert’s Explanation: “It’s definitely possible to turn off a helicopter’s engine and to restart it as you fall–if of course it’s in an appropriate distance from the ground. That said, in reality, these guys would be totaled since turning off the engine in a helicopter doesn’t immediately cool it. The missiles would still be drawn to it”.

Blue Thunder


The scene: The main draw of the movie is no other than the advanced Gazel SA-341G which is also called “Blue thunder” and is utilized to conduct police operations. Roy Scheider plays a police pilot in the LAPD who discovers that a group of retired military pilots is planning to use the helicopter in order to “deal” with a few public officials. 


Colonel Cochrane, one of the group’s members and Scheider’s rival since the Vietnam War, had chosen to be the experimental pilot of the new helicopter. Schieder used surveillance technology in the helicopter in order to follow him and discover the wanted target. Cochrane decides to destroy him while in the air. Afterwards a very bloody and merciless struggle breaks where they battle head to head: Colonel Cochrane in a “Defender” Combat helicopter and Schieder in the “Blue thunder”. During the fight, Scheider performs an impressive 360 degree turn which grants him his victory.

The Question: Can a helicopter conduct a 360 degree stunt?

Expert’s Explanation: a 360 loop is definitely possible in a helicopter. The Sikorsky CH-53 can do it so there is no reason that an advanced combat helicopter couldn’t. That said, you usually you lose altitude after conducting this sort of stunt and so the helicopter can’t be close to ground in any way”.

True Lies
The Scene: Arnold Schwarzenegger is an American secret service agent who is on the run after an Islamic terrorist group that has its hands on a nuclear weapon. His wife and daughter, who aren’t aware of his real occupation, are forced into the situation when they are abducted by the terrorists.
After saving his wife and getting her to a safety, Schwarzenegger climbs up to the cockpit of a combat airplane “AV-8B Harrier II” and quickly takes off towards the location of his kidnapped daughter. When he reaches his destination, he utilizes the special capabilities of the airplane in order to land and take off in a vertical manner. Afterwards, while in the air, Schwarzenegger and the terrorists wrestle on top of the airplane. In the end, as always, Schwarzenegger wins, the girl is rescued and the terrorists are killed.

The Question: Could you wrestle atop an airplane while it’s flying?
The “AV-8B Harrier II” has the ability to take off and land vertically without a strong push, much like helicopters. Also, throughout the years these sorts of airplanes have been used due to their ability to hover and roam the air as we see in the movie. If we refer to fighting on top of the airplane, it is not possible in any way since the airplane is operated with a force called “Wind Rule” that would throw a very powerfully a person who would try to stand on top of a combat airplane”.