20 years of watching Top Gun and I only noticed this today, after almost an annual repeat!

enter image description here

At 00:29 in this video, you can see what seems to be condensation swirling in the wake vortices.

Up until today, I thought this was just a cool shot catching some serious condensation under a high-G maneuver. However, if you look closely, you can see that it's actually a fuel jettison! At 00:38, it's very obvious.

I'm guessing that this is nothing more than show-boating and it sure did produce a cool shot.

Fuel jettison/dumping is used to reduce landing weight in emergencies but, is there any tactical/ops reason to do this?

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I've watched Top Gun enough times that I can recite the dialogs of the whole movie, but I never noticed that! $\endgroup$ – kevin Dec 10 '16 at 19:23
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ I didn't think it was a dump, I always thought it was a smoke generator. $\endgroup$ – GdD Dec 10 '16 at 19:35
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @GdD It's hard to tell, but a smoke generator would make more sense. Also see this question. I'm going to leave it for a few days, but it does seem that it was done "just because" - which I'm cool with :) Jester's dead. Yee hah! $\endgroup$ – Simon Dec 10 '16 at 22:15

Doesn't look like it was any 'tactical' reason- rather it was used to get a cool shot, which is totally OK with me. From rulit.me:

While setting up for a filming pass, the camera crew had difficulty spotting the gray F-14 against the mountainous background. Over the radio, Rat asked the pilot to blip the fuel dump switch and make a mini-cloud. The resulting effect of the atomized fuel swirling in the Tomcat’s vortices looked so good that this technique was used several times in the finished film.

I think they're talking about this scene:

Top gun

Image from youtube screenshot

Looks like they used this technique to frame the aircraft against featureless mountains, sky etc.

Note: The site seems to have taken the quote from Topgun Days: Dogfighting, Cheating Death, and Hollywood Glory as One of America's Best Fighter Jocks by Dave Baranek.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Good find! Thank you. That looks definitive to me. $\endgroup$ – Simon Dec 11 '16 at 9:23

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.