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Old 12-21-2018, 09:16 AM
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Die Hard 2 question (spoilers, but who cares? the movie is 30 years old)

I just watched Die Hard 2 for the first time in a decade or so, at least and I have one big question and I'm wondering if I missed something.

What, exactly, is Special Forces guy William Stewart (and his flunkies) plan? What happened to turn a group of say, 50 or so people (including the second squad led by John Amos's team) to Eeeee-vil? I could see a few people tempted to hang out in some Panama-esqe nation for the rest of their lives, but 50 trained, ostentably loyal soldiers? Bwah?

Also, who cares if Noriega-lite gets away? Why the huge effort to stop him (before John knows Holly is in danger)?

The movie's not bad, much of the acting is terrible (Sen Fred Thompson as the air traffic controller and the Ernest/Hillbilly Janitor are cringeworthy) but there's enough star performances by like John Amos (who makes everyone else--including Willis--look like third graders trying to do "Rosencrantz and Gildenstern are Dead".) make up for it.

But...what's the bad-guy's motive?
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Old 12-21-2018, 09:38 AM
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I don't think fanatics need reasons. I got the impression that Col. Stewart was from the "I love the smell of napalm in the morning" school, and if a few airliners have to be crashed to keep us safe from communism, that's the way it goes.

As for why everyone was fighting so hard to stop them, I guess they just thought that was the best way to regain control of the ATC system and safely land the planes that were circling. Col. Stewart promises to return their systems once he is away with Esperanza, but it's never made clear whether he would have kept that promise.

To be honest, there were such massive technological fuck ups in the movie that I never gave much thought to the human ones.
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Old 12-21-2018, 09:42 AM
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Plus, the bad guys don't act like bad guys (even when no one is watching) until the movie does the big reveal. They don't act like real people.

plus, if you fire a machine gun in the office I'm going to shoot you. I'm not going to wait to see if you are firing blanks. Bye bye John.
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Old 12-21-2018, 09:55 AM
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I just never understood why none of those planes were diverted to other airports that are a few minutes away. It's not like landing in Baltimore is a fate worse than death.
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Old 12-21-2018, 10:03 AM
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I just never understood why none of those planes were diverted to other airports that are a few minutes away. It's not like landing in Baltimore is a fate worse than death.
Yeah, that's the real hard spot. The number of airports near enough to Dulles for a plane to divert in an hour is at least a dozen.
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Old 12-21-2018, 10:27 AM
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I hate this movie. HATE it. I mean, I concede that some movies are worse than it, objectively speaking, but there is no movie I hate more. It's very existence offends me.

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Yeah, that's the real hard spot. The number of airports near enough to Dulles for a plane to divert in an hour is at least a dozen.
Nothing in this movie makes sense. There's that, of course, and there's also the idea that the airport is the only one who can communicate with planes in the air. you know who else can communicate with planes in the air? Other planes in the air. All they had to do was launch a couple of F-18s out of Norfolk and have them lead the airliners to safety.

But then, the inaction of the U.S. government is the biggest mystery of the film. They sent one team? One FUCKING team? Terrorists have taken a major airport - the U.S. capital's airport - and thousands of people hostage. You don't send one team, you send everyone. EVERYONE!!!






... sorry. Got carried away there a bit. But I really do hate this movie.

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Old 12-21-2018, 12:26 PM
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In addition to the issues with contacted the planes from other airports, there is the question of how they could be sure that only the compromised response team would be sent. It would have makes a lot more sense if you assume that no one else actually knows. If all communications with the outside were compromised but the airport personnel do not know it then it makes more sense. They think the U.S. government sent John Amos and his team, but in actuality no one in authority knows.

This would be almost impossible even at the time, but it actually makes a lot of things more plausible.
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Old 12-21-2018, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Fenris View Post
What, exactly, is Special Forces guy William Stewart (and his flunkies) plan? What happened to turn a group of say, 50 or so people (including the second squad led by John Amos's team) to Eeeee-vil? I could see a few people tempted to hang out in some Panama-esqe nation for the rest of their lives, but 50 trained, ostentably loyal soldiers? Bwah?
They were his men, so they were loyal to him. Plus, I'm sure money had a lot to do with it.

The movie is indeed ludicrous in every respect, but it's a fun romp. Things happen so fast, you don't have time to realize how stupid they are while you're watching.

The thing that sticks in my mind is how the FNG dies instantaneously when John Amos slits his throat. First of all, as noted elsewhere, commandos jam the knife in the victim's neck and twist it to kill him at once. Second, if your throat is merely slit, you don't go to the Great Beyond quietly. You scream and gurgle as you slowly drown in your own blood.
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Old 12-21-2018, 12:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Fenris View Post
I just watched Die Hard 2 for the first time in a decade or so, at least and I have one big question and I'm wondering if I missed something.

What, exactly, is Special Forces guy William Stewart (and his flunkies) plan? What happened to turn a group of say, 50 or so people (including the second squad led by John Amos's team) to Eeeee-vil? I could see a few people tempted to hang out in some Panama-esqe nation for the rest of their lives, but 50 trained, ostentably loyal soldiers? Bwah?

Also, who cares if Noriega-lite gets away? Why the huge effort to stop him (before John knows Holly is in danger)?

The movie's not bad, much of the acting is terrible (Sen Fred Thompson as the air traffic controller and the Ernest/Hillbilly Janitor are cringeworthy) but there's enough star performances by like John Amos (who makes everyone else--including Willis--look like third graders trying to do "Rosencrantz and Gildenstern are Dead".) make up for it.

But...what's the bad-guy's motive?
Nitpick alert: its Stuart not Stewart.

As for motivation, I can’t find it streaming to rewatch. Didn’t Stuart work with the General before the US decided he was a bad guy? I always figured it was a cult of personality thing where they became loyal to the general and felt betrayed when the US turned on him. It was only partially about the money.


I find it interesting that this is based off of a book that had nothing to do with the first movie or the characters.

Last edited by Loach; 12-21-2018 at 12:52 PM.
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Old 12-21-2018, 12:53 PM
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I just never understood why none of those planes were diverted to other airports that are a few minutes away. It's not like landing in Baltimore is a fate worse than death.
Have you been to Baltimore?
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Old 12-21-2018, 01:45 PM
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I never understood the guys plan after they take-off. So the bad guy plane takes off in the clear from the airport. Now they can call in some fighters to track the aircraft and probably shoot it down if it refuses to land again. No way in hell they're escaping all the way back to South America even if they try to fly low to avoid RADAR coverage.
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Old 12-21-2018, 01:52 PM
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Just so you know, a glideslope transmitter is a dumb radio thing mounted on the ground next to the runway. No software or computers are involved. The only way to move the signal is to physically move the transmitter.

That was only the second most egregious offense against aeronautical reality in the flick, behind "Why didn't they just all divert to BWI or PHL?", already well-discussed here.

But it's always cool seeing John Amos get sucked into a jet engine. Gotta give it that.
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Old 12-21-2018, 02:02 PM
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I don't think fanatics need reasons. I got the impression that Col. Stewart was from the "I love the smell of napalm in the morning" school, and if a few airliners have to be crashed to keep us safe from communism, that's the way it goes.
Communism? I thought it was all about drug money.

Wasn't Stuart kind of an Oliver North--type figure who'd been disgraced for something that wasn't kosher? That's a good motive for revenge any day of the week.
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Old 12-21-2018, 04:44 PM
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But then, the inaction of the U.S. government is the biggest mystery of the film. They sent one team? One FUCKING team? Terrorists have taken a major airport - the U.S. capital's airport - and thousands of people hostage. You don't send one team, you send everyone. EVERYONE!!!

... sorry. Got carried away there a bit. But I really do hate this movie.

No need to apologize, I totally agree (and love that scene).
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Old 12-21-2018, 05:30 PM
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Yeah, this one was stupid from the opening scene. Besides all the little giveaways that they were filming it on the West Coast (the phone labels), the knowledge of airports and the way things work is at a less-than-third-grade level. Hell, when I first saw it I screamed "Land at Andrews, you idiots! Or at least Washington National (now Ronald Reagan)" at the screen. There were way to few people coming and going as well. Even in the middle of a blizzard at midnight, Dulles is busy.
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Old 12-22-2018, 12:36 AM
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But of course it was all redeemed when a line of jet fuel spilling into the snow was lit and behaved exactly like a Yosemite Sam gunpowder trail.
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Old 12-22-2018, 01:03 AM
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plus, if you fire a machine gun in the office I'm going to shoot you. I'm not going to wait to see if you are firing blanks. Bye bye John.
Yeah, I almost mentioned that.

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I just never understood why none of those planes were diverted to other airports that are a few minutes away. It's not like landing in Baltimore is a fate worse than death.
They do make a reference early in the movie that National Airport has shut down and its planes are being diverted to Dulles. I think it's assumed, if not stated outright, that the storm is sufficiently widespread that lot of other airports are shut down so the planes have to land at Dulles. Pretty convenient that the bad guys put in all the planning to take over an airport and then got the storm they needed on the same night the guy they wanted to liberate was coming.

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Nothing in this movie makes sense. There's that, of course, and there's also the idea that the airport is the only one who can communicate with planes in the air. you know who else can communicate with planes in the air? Other planes in the air. All they had to do was launch a couple of F-18s out of Norfolk and have them lead the airliners to safety.
Forget calling in F-18s to communicate with the circling planes. You know who else can communicate with planes in the air? Planes on the ground. Every plane parked at Dulles has a transmitter on it.

The good guys are going crazy looking for a way to communicate with the circling planes. They could go to any plane, power it up, and be on the air in minutes.
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Old 12-22-2018, 07:53 AM
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Forget calling in F-18s to communicate with the circling planes. You know who else can communicate with planes in the air? Planes on the ground. Every plane parked at Dulles has a transmitter on it.

The good guys are going crazy looking for a way to communicate with the circling planes. They could go to any plane, power it up, and be on the air in minutes.
Yeah, but they still wouldn't have been able to guide them out of the area. As it went, I was amazed there were no midair collisions among all those jetliners circling Dulles with zero visibility.
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Old 12-22-2018, 09:27 AM
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Yeah, but they still wouldn't have been able to guide them out of the area. As it went, I was amazed there were no midair collisions among all those jetliners circling Dulles with zero visibility.
Well, they weren't just flying around at random. Before they lost their communications, the Dulles tower would have assigned each plane a location (based on navigation transmitters on the ground) and the pilots would fly an oval holding pattern around that point. Multiple planes would be assigned the same hold point, but at different altitudes, hence the term "stacking".
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Old 12-22-2018, 09:36 AM
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Well, they weren't just flying around at random. Before they lost their communications, the Dulles tower would have assigned each plane a location (based on navigation transmitters on the ground) and the pilots would fly an oval holding pattern around that point. Multiple planes would be assigned the same hold point, but at different altitudes, hence the term "stacking".
... Assuming the bad guys hadn't messed with them.
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Old 12-22-2018, 10:26 AM
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... Assuming the bad guys hadn't messed with them.
Yeah, but it's easy enough to pick apart what's actually in this movie without having to extrapolate to what might have happened. It's not an error of the movie that the planes didn't fly into each other by accident; the Dulles controllers had some warning and would have assigned each plane a holding pattern that wouldn't intersect with any other planes. The bad guys could have directed two planes into each other, and did direct one into the ground, but their goal wasn't just to create chaos; they wanted to leverage the threat to those passengers so they could get Esperanza. The more planes they crash, the less leverage they have.

Now that I think about it, there was a whole lot simpler way to get what they wanted. If they'd never taken over all the airport systems, Esperanza's plane would have landed and he would have been turned over to the U.S. military. Rather than taking over the airport and secretly having compatriots in the unit that was sent to stop them, why didn't they just plant their own people in the unit that was sent to accept the prisoner. John Amos says to his boss "my squad isn't busy, we'll go pick up Esperanza for you." They do that, load him on a truck, and drive to who-knows-where.

Oh, just one more thing. After circling around all evening because they couldn't see the airport, all the pilots land safely by following the fire trail that's laid out along the runway. How? It's been instrument conditions all night, and it turns out they just needed lights on the runway?
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Old 12-22-2018, 01:06 PM
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What, exactly, is Special Forces guy William Stewart (and his flunkies) plan? What happened to turn a group of say, 50 or so people (including the second squad led by John Amos's team) to Eeeee-vil? I could see a few people tempted to hang out in some Panama-esqe nation for the rest of their lives, but 50 trained, ostentably loyal soldiers? Bwah?
Yeah, this is why conspiracy theories flop in real life.

Fictional villains need lots of faceless mooks and henches for the hero to beat up. As you’ve observed, they almost invariably skip over the recruitment part. Some shows actually use it as a point of comedy (eg The Simpsons, Venture Brothers).

One would have to meet the potential recruit, identify some motivation powerful enough to override their established loyalties, recruit them into your organization, and then have them continue to work their day job while you recruit more people. And then you would need to be in a position of influence where you can assemble all of your recruits onto the same squad or platoon.

Intelligence agencies and terrorists can do this, but it takes a long time and there are many things that can go wrong. It’s hard enough to recruit one guy. I can’t even imagine trying to recruit ten or twenty or fifty while simultaneously maintaining the secrecy of your organization. (This is something I always think about when people mention conspiracies that would logically require hundreds or even thousands of people acting in perfect unison while being completely amoral).

There are social and psychological factors that work against being able to organize large groups of bad guys like this. Organizations that do it successfully are neither covert nor clandestine. For example, page one of every cult or terrorist indoctrination manual is that the potential fanatic has to be isolated from their friends and family while they are radicalized. They are cut off from society and live in remote training camps or communes.

Real life bad guys often have an advantage in that they have places that accept volunteers. Robert Hanssen, for example, he access to a list of known KGB agents that he could approach. Others recruit at embassies, mosques, or the internet. But in the OP’s example (a criminal conspiracy among American soldiers) it’s not as if you can just put up a sign. “Now Hiring Evil Henchmen.”

You might actually be better off doing it the other way around. For example, terrorists and criminal gangs have been known to send their members to the military in order to acquire training or information, with the expectation that they would remain loyal to the parent organization despite being indoctrinated into the new one.

It’s much easier to hand-wave it and assume the bad guy “somehow” accomplished this, without actually bothering to explain it to the audience.
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Old 12-22-2018, 01:39 PM
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Oh, just one more thing. After circling around all evening because they couldn't see the airport, all the pilots land safely by following the fire trail that's laid out along the runway. How? It's been instrument conditions all night, and it turns out they just needed lights on the runway?
You mean, they could have just dumped lights on the runway, like in Airplane!?

(It's surprisingly hard to find an image or clip of that.)
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Old 12-22-2018, 05:45 PM
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You mean, they could have just dumped lights on the runway, like in Airplane!?

(It's surprisingly hard to find an image or clip of that.)
Sure, as long as Johnny doesn't pull the plug again. He's such a kidder.
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Old 12-22-2018, 06:23 PM
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I just never understood why none of those planes were diverted to other airports that are a few minutes away. It's not like landing in Baltimore is a fate worse than death.
Clearly you haven't seen The Wire. "McNulty, you're an asshole!"

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I hate this movie. HATE it. I mean, I concede that some movies are worse than it, objectively speaking, but there is no movie I hate more. It's very existence offends me.
It was very clearly an attempt to take everything that worked about the first movie and shoehorn it somehow into a plot taken from some kind of rejected Airport sequel, and like a similar effort on the second series of Veronica Mars, it just doesn't work in any way, and makes you dumber for trying to count out all of the logical inconsistencies. Still not my most hated movie of all time, which is, of course, the final Brosnan Bond movie Die Another Day, with that Indiana Jones Vs. Close Encounters movie being a close second. As for the Die Hard franchise, I just treat it like Highlander and ignore all sequels and spinoffs.

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Old 12-22-2018, 06:26 PM
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I hate this movie. HATE it. I mean, I concede that some movies are worse than it, objectively speaking, but there is no movie I hate more. It's very existence offends me.



Nothing in this movie makes sense. There's that, of course, and there's also the idea that the airport is the only one who can communicate with planes in the air. you know who else can communicate with planes in the air? Other planes in the air. All they had to do was launch a couple of F-18s out of Norfolk and have them lead the airliners to safety.

But then, the inaction of the U.S. government is the biggest mystery of the film. They sent one team? One FUCKING team? Terrorists have taken a major airport - the U.S. capital's airport - and thousands of people hostage. You don't send one team, you send everyone. EVERYONE!!!






... sorry. Got carried away there a bit. But I really do hate this movie.
Bruce Willis hates more than you this movie and considers it the worst one hes ever done rumor is hes never seen it …….

He has said "he didn't understand a damn thing of the plot (apparently no one else really did either ) and there were extreme budget problems which led to really stupid errors (like the afore mentioned Pac*bell badges on what was supposed to be a Washington dc airport it was really a part of LAX that was being refurbished )






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Nitpick alert: its Stuart not Stewart.

As for motivation, I can’t find it streaming to rewatch. Didn’t Stuart work with the General before the US decided he was a bad guy? I always figured it was a cult of personality thing where they became loyal to the general and felt betrayed when the US turned on him. It was only partially about the money.


I find it interesting that this is based off of a book that had nothing to do with the first movie or the characters.
Bruse willis hates more than you this movie and consideres it the worst one hes ever done


Believe it or not there has only been one originally written die hard movie and that was the 4th one the first 3 were other screenplays that were "salavaged " for the series

Last edited by nightshadea; 12-22-2018 at 06:30 PM.
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Old 12-22-2018, 09:38 PM
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After circling around all evening because they couldn't see the airport, all the pilots land safely by following the fire trail that's laid out along the runway. How? It's been instrument conditions all night, and it turns out they just needed lights on the runway?
Keep your disbelief suspended, much like Windsor 114 wasn’t.
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Old 12-30-2018, 02:31 PM
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But of course it was all redeemed when a line of jet fuel spilling into the snow was lit and behaved exactly like a Yosemite Sam gunpowder trail.
My favorite part of a profoundly stoopid movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0Tt7VUMLs8
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Old 12-31-2018, 10:12 PM
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My favorite part of a profoundly stoopid movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0Tt7VUMLs8
Like, was the fuel door at the bottom of the fuel tank? When I open the fuel cap on my car it doesn't start gushing out.
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Old 12-31-2018, 11:52 PM
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Like, was the fuel door at the bottom of the fuel tank? When I open the fuel cap on my car it doesn't start gushing out.
I think it was where the fuel was fed into the engine. Is this really a thing with the 747?
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Old 01-01-2019, 12:26 AM
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It's not like landing in Baltimore is a fate worse than death.
I suppose that's a matter of opinion.
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Old 01-02-2019, 05:29 PM
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I think it was where the fuel was fed into the engine. Is this really a thing with the 747?
No. Not in the slightest.
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Old 01-02-2019, 06:52 PM
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My favorite part of a profoundly stoopid movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0Tt7VUMLs8
Gods, I had forgotten how stoopid that scene was. A trail of cold JP8 (which won't ignite if you flip your lighter onto it) catches flame (whilst being blown by close jet exhaust) accelerates said flamage (against said jet exhaust) leaping into the air to catch up with a jet during takeoff, where it (manages to get into a gushing fuel spout, against pressure, to ignite the fuel in the tank) causing an empty airplane to explode as if it were filled with C4), with flame shooting though the empty cargo compartment, through cargo doors and into the cockpit.

I can see how that might happen.

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Old 01-02-2019, 07:24 PM
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Well, they weren't just flying around at random. Before they lost their communications, the Dulles tower would have assigned each plane a location (based on navigation transmitters on the ground) and the pilots would fly an oval holding pattern around that point. Multiple planes would be assigned the same hold point, but at different altitudes, hence the term "stacking".
Even if they were just flying around at random, a few dozen passenger jets take up about 0.00001% of the space within a few miles of an airport.

It'd be hard to crash them into each other if you were trying to.
  #35  
Old 01-02-2019, 08:20 PM
Siam Sam Siam Sam is offline
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Originally Posted by silenus View Post
Gods, I had forgotten how stoopid that scene was. A trail of cold JP8 (which won't ignite if you flip your lighter onto it) catches flame (whilst being blown by close jet exhaust) accelerates said flamage (against said jet exhaust) leaping into the air to catch up with a jet during takeoff, where it (manages to get into a gushing fuel spout, against pressure, to ignite the fuel in the tank) causing an empty airplane to explode as if it were filled with C4), with flame shooting though the empty cargo compartment, through cargo doors and into the cockpit.

I can see how that might happen.
Scenes like that remind me what I'd heard in some interview with someone connected with The Godfather. The scene where Sonny (James Caan) is riddled with bullets from several machine guns but somehow manages to keep on charging. The guy interviewed said the experts explained to Francis Ford Coppola in minute detail how that could never, ever happen in real life, why it would be physically impossible. And Coppola sat there, listened politely, nodded his head, remarked, "Uh-huh," and "I see," from time to time. Then at the end he finally said to the experts, "But I want to do it."
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Last edited by Siam Sam; 01-02-2019 at 08:20 PM.
  #36  
Old 01-03-2019, 01:24 AM
DWMarch DWMarch is offline
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Yeah, this is why conspiracy theories flop in real life.

Fictional villains need lots of faceless mooks and henches for the hero to beat up. As you’ve observed, they almost invariably skip over the recruitment part. Some shows actually use it as a point of comedy (eg The Simpsons, Venture Brothers).
They've even hung a lampshade on this within the franchise in Live Free or Die Hard, courtesy of some snark by John McClane himself. "You have got to be running out of bad guys by now. What, do you have a service or something? 1-800-HENCHMAN?"
  #37  
Old 01-04-2019, 11:25 AM
TaoPilot TaoPilot is offline
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Just so you know, a glideslope transmitter is a dumb radio thing mounted on the ground next to the runway. No software or computers are involved. The only way to move the signal is to physically move the transmitter.

That was only the second most egregious offense against aeronautical reality in the flick, behind "Why didn't they just all divert to BWI or PHL?", already well-discussed here.

But it's always cool seeing John Amos get sucked into a jet engine. Gotta give it that.
Even if they could lower the glide slope, it still bothered me that the pilots blindly followed that down without referencing the altimeter.
  #38  
Old 01-04-2019, 11:30 AM
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terentii terentii is offline
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Even if they could lower the glide slope, it still bothered me that the pilots blindly followed that down without referencing the altimeter.
Actually, shit like this happens a lot on Mayday (aka Air Crash Investigation).
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Last edited by terentii; 01-04-2019 at 11:30 AM.
  #39  
Old 01-04-2019, 11:36 PM
Robot Arm Robot Arm is offline
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Even if they could lower the glide slope, it still bothered me that the pilots blindly followed that down without referencing the altimeter.
(My experience is with small planes only; don't know if the big iron follows the same rules and procedures.)

Air pressure changes with the weather. Pilots approaching an airport get certain weather information from the local controllers, including a setting for their altimeter so that it will be accurate for the airport they're landing at. If the controllers gave the pilots the wrong setting, the altimeters on the plane could make the pilots think they were 300 feet higher than they actually were.
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