In one of the opening scenes of "The Hunt for Red October" (1990) dr Ryan is departing London Heathrow deeply in the evening (there's even a cameo with his wife claiming that plane is departing at 10 PM -- if I'm not mistaken).

Immediately after that we see an on-board scene (with discussion between Ryan and flight attendant about not sleeping during entire flight) followed by scene of welcoming Dr. Ryan in New York's airport, by a two some-kind-of secret service agents, during ... morning.

How this is possible? Taking flight length (7-8 hours) and time zone differences (five?) into account, plane departing London lands at any New York's airports just around 3 hour absolute/local time after departing. I.e. American Airlines departs LHR at 19:25 local time and lands at JFK at 22:35 local time.

Ryan departing London at 10 PM would most likely land at New York at 1 AM.

Not mentioning that there are (and there was no in 1980/1990) no late evening departs from London to New York due to night flights restrictions and thus entire pictured flight is impossible to take place.

This timing is certainly possible the other way, i.e New York to London. For example, United Airlines flight departs EWR at 22:05 local time and lands at LHR at 10:15 local time in the morning next day.

I know that this is a very small thing, not influencing this great movie at all. But, since this indeed is a great movie (I just love it) and I watched it about 20-30 times, I was always wondering about this.

  • Um, a wizard did it?
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Dec 28, 2016 at 11:37

1 Answer 1


There are two factors which might be throwing your calculations off somewhat.

First, there is no mention in the movie (that I can find) that Jack's flight leaves at 10pm - Mrs. Wheeler (presumably the child's babysitter while Jack is away), simply says "Jack, you're going to miss the plane" when he is saying goodbye to the child.

Second, he isn't flying to New York, but as evidenced in the movie, he arrives at Washington Dulles International Airport (which admittedly doesn't make a huge difference to the flight time).

A quick look at the movie shows that Jack pulls up to London Heathrow at 2:55am, as evidenced by the hotel clock in the exterior shot.

enter image description here

Prior to 9/11, check-in times were quite flexible but even then, at least an hour's check-in time for a transatlantic flight was a reasonable expectation, so it's fair to assume that his flight didn't depart until 4am at the earliest.

Google flight tracker puts the average nonstop flight from Heathrow to Dulles at around 8 hours 30 minutes, which seems reasonable. Therefore his flight should have arrived in Washington Dulles at 12:30pm GMT, or 7:30am local time (5 hour time difference), which fits well with the final establishing shot of Jack being driven to the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia sometime in the morning.

It also fits well with Jack's arrival at Admiral Greer's (James Earl Jones) office in Langley. A world clock can be seen behind Admiral Greer's desk, placing the time of their meeting well before noon (noon seems to be somewhere west of Iceland at the time, making it around 8:30am in Langley, Virginia).

enter image description here

  • Accepting your answer as perfectly explains my question. The whole / bug in movie remains as there are no mid-night commercial flights from any commercial airport (especially LHR) due to night-time noise restrictions. As far as I know flights after 10 PM are considered somewhat strange / extra costly to the airline. So, there is some kind of bug in that scene, but certainly it isn't due to time, as you perfectly explained. Thank you.
    – trejder
    Commented Dec 29, 2016 at 10:42
  • One of the stills is missing. Anyone can fix this up?
    – trejder
    Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 13:39

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