math

How Long Was the Runway in Fast and Furious 6?

Fast and Furious 6 raised many questions: Is The Rock’s neck the world’s largest body part? Why did they make fun of Tyrese’s big forehead, when half the cast is bald? But most important, how long was that freaking runway!!!!? As those who’ve seen it likely told everyone they knew afterward, the film ended in a massive, thirteen-minute action sequence that took place on and around a plane speeding down one apparently ginormous runway. We busted out our calculators (okay, calculator apps) and arrived at a solid estimate on the probable length. Spoiler alert: It’s super long.

First, here’s what we know: 1) When the cars drove onto the back of the cargo plane, it was going 115 mph, according to this interview with The Rock. 2) The takeoff speed for a plane the size of the one used in FF6 (also established in that interview) is about 172 mph, according to Captain Robert Travis, President of the Independent Pilots Association, whom we talked to for this piece. Since the plane isn’t moving at the same speed throughout, we broke the scene down into sections.

A) 0–0:45
At the 45-second mark, the good guys drive onto the plane, so at that moment the plane is moving at 115 mph. However, before that, the plane is in the air, landing, so we don’t know its speed. What we do know is that the scene starts with the good guys and bad guys driving their cars on the runway (at the 0-second mark), and since they speed up to get on the plane after it lands, we can assume they were driving slower than 115 mph. We estimate 100 mph. (Since we don’t want to do calculus, we’re going to assume steady acceleration throughout the scene. It’s just way easier.) What we’ll do is find the average speed for period A and then multiply it by the time to find the distance.

(115+100)/2 x (45/60/60)* = 1.344 miles

B) 0:45–3:01
At the 3:01-mark, the pilot says that he needs to speed up in order to take off, so before then we can assume the plane stays constant at 115 mph.

115 x (136/60/60) = 4.344 miles

C) 3:01–6:44
This is the section during which the plane accelerates from 115 mph to 172 mph. Again we’re assuming constant acceleration, so we’ll average the two.

((115+172)/2) x (223/60/60) = 8.889 miles

D) 6:44–10:19
This is the period between when they start taking off and when the plane begins to go down. Since the plane doesn’t succeed in really ascending (possibly as a result of the multiple cars attached to it via super-harpoon), we assume the plane stays constant at 172 mph.

172 x (215/60/60) = 10.272 miles

E) 10:19–13:02
At this point, the plane starts going down and eventually actually crashes and comes to a stop. We know the plane starts this section at 172 mph and ends at 0 mph.

((172+0)/2) x (163/60/60) = 3.894 miles

F) 13:03
The plane has ceased to move and the camera pulls away. We see the plane is almost at the end of the runway. We estimate the plane is about two plane lengths away from the end. In the interview noted above, The Rock says the plane is an Antonov, the smaller, two-engine version of which is 226 feet long. So in miles, two plane lengths equals:

0.086 miles

So …

For comparison, the longest paved runway in the world is at the Chinese Qamdo Bamda Airport and is about 3.4 miles long. The longest partially paved, partially unpaved runway is at America’s Edwards Air Force Base and is 7.5 miles long. Verdict: That is one fast and furious runway.

* We divide the amount of seconds by 60 and then 60 again to get the time in hours.