Friday, August 27, 2010

India Golf Niner Niner is Buddy-Spiked!

Hey all, I just finished watching the Incredibles again.  This is quite possibly my favorite Pixar movie -- even over Toy Story.  Why?  Because all of the nerdy goodness of Elastigirl using actual pilot-speak when she's flying to rescue her husband.

"Island approach, India-Golf Niner-Niner checking in, VFR on top, over. Island Tower, this is India-Golf Niner-Niner, requesting vectors to the initial, over."

Here she's hailing the tower, giving her callsign IG99, indicating she's using Visual Flight Rules on top of cloud cover (she wouldn't be using VFR if she was flying on instruments of course, e.g. during a storm where seeing the runway during approach is impossible), and requesting the position and heading corresponding to the runway on the island to which the aircraft controllers are supposed to direct her.

At this point she gets nervous, goes back to put her uniform on where she discovers Dash and Violet.  While she's talking to Violet's friend she hears a warning signal, goes to the cockpit and sees missiles appear from below.

"India-Golf Niner-Niner, transmitting in the blind guard — disengage, repeat, disengage! Disengage, repeat disengage! Friendlies at two-zero miles south-southwest of your position, angels 10, track east, over!"

Once again she identifies herself before continuing.  Transmitting in the blind guard means she hasn't established contact with the tower, and she's hoping they can hear her.  She gives her position and altitude -- angels 10 meaning 10,000 ft, and track east meaning she's flying eastward.

"Mayday! Mayday! India-Golf Niner-Niner is buddy-spiked! Abort-abort, there are children aboard, say again, there are children aboard this airplane!"

This is the desperate call for help.  She correctly places mayday before her callsign, though it is supposed to be said three times.  Similarly, "abort" is probably also supposed to be said three times, which she does at the end.  Buddy-spiked means a friendly aircraft has missile lock.

In the extras, the director said that Holly Hunter refused to do the scene without understanding the jargon, and it shows -- she really pulls off the emotion of the scene while remaining in complete control.  The whole movie is great, but this is by far my favorite scene.


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  4. I've studied a wide aspect range of aviation as a side study to federal law starting at five years old, I agree that, while there may have been a few hick ups with communication protocol in the Incredibles, it would be ignored because she was over international waters and being attacked by unfriendlies. As an esteemed fighter pilot once told me "sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands and protocol be damned. After all, the plane is your only point of control." As I said, I have studied several aspects of aviation, I.E. communications, operations, and equipment. Which lead to actual flying, missile defense flares, and "bogey tracking" (flying object position detection systems.) In the Incredibles, Elastigirl fired flares from the plane, as you very well saw, two separate times in an attempt at throwing off what she thought were heat seeking missiles. However, target locking, or TAMs (target acquiring missiles) cannot be thrown off by said flares. They're far more costly but, by an order of magnitude (ten times), far more effective. Flying through clouds won't even phase the tracking system of a TAM. This is the one possible inaccuracy in the Incredibles: multiple TAMs flying that clossely grouped through even light clouds can cause their tracking systems to target one another if they're closer together than their distance to the main target. If it were reality-based, those missiles should have collided long before they reach the plane. HOWEVER! This is where it gets interesting. Because the missiles aproached from behind, veered to each side of the plane only to crawl sideways and slowly approach for a torturing delay in impact. This is evident of long range radio-based flight control system with an active RTPT radar (real time position tracking.) Syndrome obviously wanted both Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl to suffer despite not knowing who she was at the time, but, since he wasn't at any more control than a push button to launch the missiles, they were more than likely controlled by a computer with a preset missile approach pattern. The type of plane, including the afterburner boost thruster, denotes a heavily modified Leer jet with a  Pratt & Whitney J58-1 continuous-bleed afterburning turbojet, 34,000 lbf (151 kN) thrust. That's the smallest jet engine capable of pushing a Leer jet hard enough to pull up away from a wave heading straight for it.