Kelly Choi
December 07, 2001 AT 05:00 AM EST

Aboard an aircraft carrier in Behind Enemy Lines, Owen Wilson uses a plane-launch catapult to send a football into the air, and then, as the carrier plows ahead, tries to catch it when it falls. Are such pigskin pyrotechnics possible?

Yeah, but filmmakers flew a bit off the handle, says U.S. Navy commander Bob Anderson. The carrier could feasibly catch up with the soaring ball, ”but I don’t know that anybody would do that for real,” says Anderson. ”Operating around a ‘cat’ is dangerous.” (In the movie, the football was added with computer graphics.) But there are similar high jinks: Sometimes a parting sailor’s boots are launched sky-high as a tribute.

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