*Can a commercial airliner actually fly upside down the way Denzel Washington’s character maneuvers his aircraft in “Flight?”

The disturbing image appears in trailers for the movie, which opens nationwide on Friday (Nov. 2). In the scene, Washington’s Capt. Whip Whitaker inverts the plane in midair as a way to stabilize it following a sudden plunge. But is this a real maneuver available to commercial airliners?

According to “Flight” screenwriter John Gatins, the entire scene is based on a real situation that took place off the coast of California.

“A similar thing happened where the elevator got fixed in a position and they lost control of the plane,” Gatins told us at a recent press conference for the film. “They fought and regained [control] and at one point they flew the plane inverted for a minute. And in the pilot [transcript], the one pilot says to the other, “At least upside down, we’re flying.”

Below, Gatins and director Robert Zemeckis (who speaks first) explain why commercial airplanes aren’t able to sustain an inverted flight for long periods of time the way fighter jets can.