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The piece Tom Cruise is holding onto on this moving plane seems useless as a component, maybe even inductive of drag. Is this a real airplane component, or just a film prop?

Enter image description here

I don't know the model of the airplane; I'm hoping maybe the shape is recognizable to some of you, or maybe it's even a "no-brainer".

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    $\begingroup$ I'm more worried about his fingers being strong enough to hold his body against the drag at the speed the plane must be going. $\endgroup$ – Almo Jul 7 '16 at 13:23
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    $\begingroup$ @Almo Yeah, but I couldn't include that in the question on this site. Only the component's existence was on topic. I could've asked more thoroughly on Movies SE, but I think the question got answered quite nicely here! $\endgroup$ – Viziionary Jul 7 '16 at 17:38
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    $\begingroup$ I totally agree with that! $\endgroup$ – Almo Jul 7 '16 at 17:41
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    $\begingroup$ @Almo fingers are not a problem for an Operating Thetan level VII, as that gives him real superpowers. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Jul 10 '16 at 14:42
  • $\begingroup$ I thought it was a C-130, but I realize I was mistaken. I can't imagine what the holes are for, unless they're for lightening the aircraft. Other than that it looks like a blast deflector to keep paratroopers from slamming on the side of the plane on the way out. $\endgroup$ – Howard Miller Jul 13 '16 at 1:40
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The plane is an Airbus A400M Atlas, a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft.

I'm referring to this page, and there the stunt is well described. About the door, here's an explanation:

Visible in the released image, the A400M's new side door deflectors were added to the development aircraft fleet after initial tests with the ramp and side doors open resulted in high noise levels and turbulence inside the cargo hold, says Fernando Alonso, Airbus Military's senior vice-president flight and integration test centre.

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    $\begingroup$ Kudos on the find. Just add the aircraft type. I've taken my answer down. $\endgroup$ – ymb1 Jul 7 '16 at 7:28
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    $\begingroup$ So, while the answer is yes, that's a real plane with a real piece of equipment that the plane is actually designed to fly with, no Tommy boy wouldn't be able to hold on to it when the deflector is closed because each hole in the deflector is filled with a bump in the body to minimize drag. It would appear that they blacked out some of the filler bumps in post-production to make it appear that he could hang on, and they left some unblackened. $\endgroup$ – FreeMan Jul 7 '16 at 14:18
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    $\begingroup$ Just saying, he actually did hold on to it... cinemablend.com/new/… $\endgroup$ – bkribbs Jul 7 '16 at 14:53
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    $\begingroup$ "says Fernando Alonso, Airbus Military's senior vice-president flight and integration test centre." Hmm, is somebody moonlighting? $\endgroup$ – dkwarr87 Jul 8 '16 at 9:47
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    $\begingroup$ There's also this bit on the filming of that stunt: youtube.com/watch?v=afS5ks54tms $\endgroup$ – Jeroen Jul 8 '16 at 14:21
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Civilian jump planes often have some sort of similar (but much simpler) deflector in front of the door used for exiting the aircraft. It's not difficult to hold yourself on the plane, but a jump plane slows down when dropping jumpers, and the engines don't have anything like the prop blast of this plane. I have no idea what the blast would be like in the situation in this film, but hanging on the outside of an airplane in flight with just the strength of your hands is nothing exotic - skydivers do it all the time.

Source: almost forty years as a skydiver and skydiver pilot.

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It's a blast deflector as said above, but most importantly, it's a blast deflector for combat drops. Combat drops happen under rough conditions and with speeds that can be greater than "clear-and-sunny" civilian fun drops.

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