In Midway (2019), Best teaching flying skills to James Murray. He turned off the engine in midair. McClusky watched from the aircraft carrier & says:

McCLUSKY: Is it a stunt, or is he in trouble?

Man: I don't know. But he's going to hit the first wire like always.

What does "first wire" mean?

1 Answer 1


In reality, because of the short length available for aircraft to land on carriers, there are a set of arresting wires on the deck which are supposed to be caught by a tail hook mounted on the plane.

Carriers typically have 4 wires, and a landing is usually considered a good landing if the pilot catches the third wire. Repeatedly failing to catch that third wire can result in a pilot losing their carrier flight qualification.

If a pilot catches the first wire, he's landing short of the optimal "safe" zone.


I've not seen the movie.

As has been pointed out, Best is the hero of the movie rather than a potential washout. I've also read that the script of the movie is considered cartoony and clichéd. So, it is likely that in the context of the movie itself "first wire" is the best wire, and despite the fact that Best is gliding his plane in, he will still stick a perfect landing.

  • 1
    I haven't seen the movie, but I have a sneaky feeling that, rather than info-dump the audience with the whole 3 or 4 wire system explanation, they just went with "first wire is best" & ignored the practicality.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jun 28, 2020 at 9:11
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    The quote is ambiguous as to whether the first wire is good or bad - although I've just read the script described as cartoony and cliched, so you may be right.
    – HorusKol
    Commented Jun 28, 2020 at 11:36
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    It reads to me as "the hero always gets it right, whatever the challenge" but I have nothing more to go on than the question - it's just a guess, & my inveterate cynicism ;)
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jun 28, 2020 at 11:39

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