Whether you are an aviation enthusiast, or you are dreaming about your next flight to a dreamy holiday paradise, there are plenty of movies about airplanes to get you in the mood you like. Perhaps you want to watch movies about airplanes crashing or being hijacked. So switch on Netflix or Amazon Prime Video and choose from our list of the Top 30 movies about airplanes!
Movies are a great source of entertainment that allows people to escape their every-day life and lose themselves in a good story.
For many people, stories that are centered around a topic of interest hold even more draw than the average movie. However, it is more than just finding a topic, viewers also want to find the right film to match their mood. It can be tricky to find the right combination of the two.
Thankfully, for those interested in aviation and movies about airplanes, there have been a good number of movies made about the topic! They cover everything from hijacking to plane crashes to disasters, and more.
Even so, it can be hard to narrow down the choices. Whether its adrenaline-filled action to tear-jerking drama to laugh-out-loud comedy, there is sure to be a movie or two that will be a perfect match.
So, for all those who hold a special place in their hearts for aviation, here is a list of the top 30 movies about airplanes!
Table of Contents
- 1. Airplane! (1980)
- 2. Flight (2012)
- 3. The Terminal (2004)
- 4. United 93 (2006)
- 5. Con Air (1997)
- 6. Passenger 57 (1992)
- 7. Executive Decision (1996)
- 8. Die Hard 2 (1990)
- 9. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
- 10. The Aviator (2004)
- 11. Top Gun (1986)
- 12. Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)
- 13. Snakes on a Plane (2006)
- 14. Hot Shots! (1991)
- 15. The Flight of the Phoenix (1965)
- 16. Memphis Belle (1990)
- 17. Up in the Air (I) (2009)
- 18. Red Tails (2012)
- 19. Airport (1970)
- 20. Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (1965)
- 21. Air Force One (1997)
- 22. Non-Stop (2014)
- 23. The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper (1981)
- 24. Red Eye (2005)
- 25. Zero Hour! (1957)
- 26. Turbulence (1997)
- 27. Amelia (2009)
- 28. Flightplan (2005)
- 29. Planes (2013)
- 30. Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944)
1. Airplane! (1980)
A spoof on 70’s disaster movies, the story takes place on an airplane where both passengers and pilot gets sick. Among the growing disaster, it is then left up to a man who is afraid of flying and a stewardess, who happens to be the protagonist’s ex-girlfriend, to safely land the plane.
- Genre: Comedy, Disasters
- Release Date: 1980
- Famous Quote: Surely you can’t be serious. I am serious…and don’t call me Shirley.
- Starring: Leslie Nielsen, Julie Hagerty, Robert Hays
2. Flight (2012)
A horrific and unexplained airplane malfunction forces commercial airline pilot Whip Whitaker to crash-land the plane, which he miraculously manages to do with only 6 lives lost. However, further investigation into the incident and into Whitaker’s struggle with alcohol abuse leaves him in a troubling situation.
- Genre: Drama, Thriller, Airplane Crash
- Release Date: 2012
- Famous Quote: No one could have landed that plane like I did. No one.
- Starring: Denzel Washington, Nadine Velazquez, Don Cheadle
3. The Terminal (2004)
A man from Eastern Europe finds himself stranded at JFK airport after his home country erupts into war mid-flight. Now, with a passport to nowhere and the inability to enter the United States, Viktor Navorski must make the international transit lounge his new home until the war at home is settled.
- Genre: Drama, Comedy, Romance
- Release Date: 2004
- Famous Quotes: Let me ask you something, Mr. Navorski. Why do you wait here two hours every day when I’ve told you there’s nothing I can do for you – that your new visa will not arrive until your country is recognized by the United States?
- Starring: Tom Hanks, Catherine zeta-Jones, Chi McBride
4. United 93 (2006)
This is a real-time account of one of the planes that were hijacked on September 11, 2001. This story tells the heroic events that unfolded on United Flight 93 that crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The story hones in on how the passengers on board were able to stop the terrorist’s plot.
- Genre: Drama, History, Thriller
- Release Date: 2006
- Famous Quote: I don’t care how many windows you break.
- Starring: David Alan Basche, Olivia Thirlby, Liza Colon-Zayas
5. Con Air (1997)
A former army ranger and new parolee Cameron Poe is flying home on a prison transport when one of the prisoners, a serial killer named Cyrus, seizes control of the plane in a violent escape plot. Poe must work secretly with air Marshall Vince Larkin to foil the killer’s plans.
- Genre: Action, Thriller, Airplane Crash, Hijacking
- Release date: 1997
- Famous Quote: Define irony: a bunch of idiots dancing around on a plane to a song made famous by a band that died in a plane crash.
- Starring: Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, John Malkovich
6. Passenger 57 (1992)
Former police officer John Cutter is on a flight to Los Angeles along with an apprehended terrorist who is being escorted by the FBI. Cutter is forced to rescue the passengers on board when the terrorist’s accomplices kill the FBI agents in an attempt to free him.
- Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller, Hijacking
- Release Date: 1992
- Famous Quote: In my position what would you do? If you were me what would you do? Kill myself.
- Starring: Wesley Snipes, Bruce Payne, Tom Sizemore
7. Executive Decision (1996)
Terrorists hijack an airplane in order to try and force the U.S. government to release their leader who had been captured. An intelligence analyst and a commando unit perform a daring midair mission to board the plane and force it to land safely. However, things take an unexpected turn when they make a discovery on board.
- Genre: Action, Thriller, Adventure, Hijacking
- Release Date: 1996
- Famous quote: Didn’t have details on the op, Colonel. So we brought everything, even the condoms.
- Starring: Kurt Russell, Halle Berry, Steven Seagal
8. Die Hard 2 (1990)
In this second installment of the Die Hard series, John McClane finds himself at Washington Dulles airport. He is awaiting his wife’s flight to arrive when treasonous former colonel takes control of the airport, holding every airplane hostage including McClane’s wife’s plane, in an attempt to free a drug profiteer who is in U.S. custody.
- Genre: Action, Thriller
- Release Date: 1990
- Famous Quote: Oh man, I can’t f*****g believe this. Another basement. Another elevator. How can the same s**** happen to the same guy twice?
- Starring: Bruce Willis, Bonnie Bedelia, William Sadler
9. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
A political satire about the Cold War. The story follows two opposing forces. The first is a Royal Air Force officer who tries to stop the delivery of a nuclear strike that was ordered by an unhinged Air Force general. The second is the crew of a B-52 bomber that is attempting to carry out the orders for the strike.
- Genre: Comedy
- Release Date: January 29, 1964
- Famous quote: Your Commie has no regard for human life. Not even his own.
- Starring: Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden
10. The Aviator (2004)
This biographical drama is based on a book about famous producer Howard Hughes that was written by Charles Higham. It portrays the early life of Howard Hughes throughout the years from 1927-1947 when he was an aviation magnate and becoming a successful film producer all the while battling a mental illness.
- Genre: Biography, Drama
- Release Date: December 14, 2004
- Famous quote: You don’t care about money because you’ve always had it.
- Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Kate Beckinsale
11. Top Gun (1986)
Hot-headed pilot Maverick and his copilot Goose are given the opportunity to attend the Navy’s Fighter Weapons School and train to become the best of the best. Maverick is forced to face issues from his past and learn some hard lessons about flying, life, and love that goes beyond the classroom.
- Genre: Action, Drama
- Release Date: May 16, 1986
- Famous quote: “I’m going to need a beer to put these flames out. Yo! Great Mav, real slick.”
- Starring: Tom Cruise, Tim Robbins, Kelly McGillis
12. Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)
This film is a compilation of the remake of three of the original Twilight Zone TV series episodes along with one new story, each directed by a different person. In the first segment, a racist is transformed into a Jewish man. The second is about a man who comes to a retirement home to teach the people they are only as young as they feel. The third features a boy who is not what he seems. In the fourth, a man on an airplane thinks gremilns are attacking them.
- Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi
- Release Date: June 24, 1983
- Famous quote: The day we stop playing is the day we start getting old.
- Starring: Dan Aykroyd, Albert Brooks, Vic Morrow
13. Snakes on a Plane (2006)
A key witness in murder case against a mob boss is being escorted on an airplane to Los Angeles to testify. The crime boss manages to orchestrate a plan to kill the witness before the plane lands by storing a time-released box onboard that is full of venomous snakes. It is up to FBI agents Flynn and Sanders to save the day.
- Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller
- Release Date: August 18, 2006
- Famous quote: “I’ve had it with these mothaf***in’ snakes, on this mothaf***in’ plane! Everybody strap in, I’m about to open some f***in’ windows!”
- Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Julianna Margulies, Nathan Phillips
14. Hot Shots! (1991)
A parody of Top Gun with a twist. Money-hungry weapons manufacturers try to convince the government to replace pilots and planes with their newest super airplanes, and try to sabotage an important mission in order to do it. A top-notch pilot with natural talent suffers from an unstable mind and must face his past in order to successfully save his mission.
- Genre: Action, Comedy
- Release Date: July 31, 1991
- Famous quote: What do you do with an elephant with 3 balls? Walk him and pitch to the rhino.
- Starring: Charlie Sheen, Cary Elwes, Valeria Golino
15. The Flight of the Phoenix (1965)
A cargo plane en route from Jaghbub to Benghazi crash-lands in the Sahara desert. The survivors hatch a crazy plan to rebuild an airplane from the wreckage in order to survive. The group of survivors must overcome issues within the group and from outside sources in order to make it out alive.
- Genre: Adventure, Drama, Airplane Crash
- Release Date: December 15, 1965
- Famous quote: Insurance companies move in mysterious ways. Much like God… only far less generous.
- Starring: James Stewart, Richard Attenborough, Peter Finch
16. Memphis Belle (1990)
During World War II in England, the crew of a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bomber named the Memphis Belle embarks on the 25th and final mission to bomb Bremen, Germany before returning home to the United States. It is up to Dennis Dearborn to ensure a successful mission amidst pressure from Army public relations man Lt. Col. Bruce Derringer and growing dissension in the ranks.
- Genre: Action, Drama, War
- Release Date: October 12, 1990
- Famous quote: This is the religious one. There’s always a religious one. Eugene McVey from Cleveland. There’s always one from Cleveland. Nineteen, high-strung, always coming down with something.How’d he get in this bunch?
- Starring: Matthew Modine, Eric Stoltz, Tate Donovan
17. Up in the Air (I) (2009)
Ryan Bingham, a man who fires people for a living, is constantly traveling for his job to the point where he lives out of his suitcase. Relishing the freedom, Bingham refuses to allow love and personal relationships to tie him down. However, attending his sister’s wedding and work circumstances force him to reconsider his philosophy.
- Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
- Release Date: December 23, 2009
- Famous quote: Please, for the love of God, can I fire the next one.
- Starring: George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick
18. Red Tails (2012)
The Tuskegee Airmen are a group of African-American fighter pilots who had to wade through a sea of racism and their own personal demons during World War II. Having been kept grounded and out of the action, they are eventually called to duty where their performance was so impressive, they are given a very important mission and an aircraft upgrade.
- Genre: Action, Drama, History
- Release Date: January 20, 2012
- Famous quote: Experience is a cruel teacher, gives the exam first and then the lesson.
- Starring: Cuba Gooding Jr., Gerald McRaney, David Oyelowo
19. Airport (1970)
At the Chicago airport, general manager Mel Bakersfeld battles a massive snowstorm in addition to personal and professional issues. To top it all off, D.O. Guerrero threatens to set off a bomb on one of the airplanes, and it is up to Bakersfeld and pilot Vernon Demerest to talk Guerrero down. Drama increases along with the dangers that threaten lives both on the ground and in the air.
- Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller, Disasters
- Release Date: March 25, 1970
- Famous quote: When you get to be older, there isn’t a lot left to be frightened of.
- Starring: Burt Lancaster, Dean Martin, George Kennedy
20. Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (1965)
(How I Flew from London to Paris in 25 hours 11 minutes)
Set in 1920, Lord Rawnsley a newspaper magnate decides to hold a race in which he offers a large cash prize to the first pilot to successfully fly across the English Channel. Pilots from all over the world gather to join in the race including American pilot Orvil Newton, devious Sir Percy Ware-Armitage, and British ace Richard Mays.
- Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Family
- Release Date: June 16, 1965
- Famous quote: The trouble with these international affairs is that they attract foreigners.
- Starring: Stuart Whitman, Sarah Miles, James Fox
21. Air Force One (1997)
Air Force One is hijacked by terrorists who were disguised as journalists and aided by one of the secret service agents who is a mole. The President and his wife and daughter are also on the plane, and it is left up to him to save his family and everyone on board while coordinating with the Vice President on the ground.
- Genre: Adventure, Drama, Thriller, Hijacked
- Release Date: July 25, 1997
- Famous quote: Peace isn’t merely the absence of conflict, but the presence of justice.
- Starring: Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman, Glenn Close
22. Non-Stop (2014)
During a transatlantic flight, air marshal Bill Marks receives texts saying a passenger will be killed every 20 minutes until his demands for $150 million dollars are met. Marks works with fellow air marshal Jack Hammond as well as crew members and passengers to find the killer before he strikes again.
- Genre: Action, Mystery, Thriller
- Release Date: February 28, 2014
- Famous quote: I’m not hijacking this plane. I’m trying to save it!
- Starring: Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, Scoot McNairy
23. The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper (1981)
This film primarily follows the story of an infamous aircraft hijacker named D.B. Cooper who, in 1971, escaped with $200,000 by jumping out of the back of the airplane. The story follows a fictional account of Cooper’s escape once he landed.
- Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller, Hijacking
- Release Date: November 13, 1981
- Starring: Robert Duvall, Treat Williams, Kathryn Harrold
24. Red Eye (2005)
While onboard an airplane to Miami on a red-eye flight, a woman is kidnapped and pulled in to a political assassination plot. The captor threatens to murder the woman’s father if she refuses to help carry out the assassination. Drama ensues as she desperately tries to seek help from those on board.
- Genre: Action, Mystery, Thriller
- Release Date: August 19, 2005
- Famous quote: Sometimes bad things happen to good people.
- Starring: Rachel McAdams, Cillian Murphy, Brian Cox
25. Zero Hour! (1957)
Personal drama with his wife and son drives Stryker to board the same flight as his family in order to try and repair the relationship. Once onboard, trouble begins as people start to become ill including the pilot and co-pilot. It is left to Stryker, the only one with flying experience to take over and land the plane.
- Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Disasters
- Release Date: November 13, 1957
- Famous quote: Our survival hinges on one thing – finding someone who not only can fly this plane, but didn’t have fish for dinner.
- Starring: Dana Andrews, Linda Darnell, Sterling Hayden
26. Turbulence (1997)
Onboard a flight transporting convicted criminals, a man convicted of murder named Ryan Weaver. During the flight, another convict manages to break free and kills the marshals. Weaver also manages to free himself, and becomes increasingly unstable and begins to cause chaos as the people on board fall victim to him.
- Genre: Action, Thriller, Hijacking
- Release Date: January 10, 1997
- Famous quote: You rubbed me the wrong way.
- Starring: Ray Liotta, Lauren Holly, Brendan Gleeson
27. Amelia (2009)
This dramatic biographical film follows the legend of Amelia Earhart who spent her life pursuing great things. She set a number of aviation milestones, and took it upon herself to become the first woman to successfully circumnavigate the world in an airplane, but went missing mid-flight in 1937 over the Pacific Ocean.
- Genre: Adventure, Biography, Drama, Airplane Crash
- Release Date: October 23, 2009
- Famous quote: Who wants a life imprisoned in safety?
- Starring: Hilary Swank, Richard Gere, Ewan McGregor
28. Flightplan (2005)
On a flight escorting her husband’s body home to the U.S., widowed American aircraft engineer Kyle Pratt wakes up to find her daughter missing mid-flight. She must struggle to find her daughter while simultaneously fighting to prove her sanity.
- Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller
- Release Date: September 23, 2005
- Famous quote: I wish you guys would do that with bricks once in a while. That way it would end faster!
- Starring: Jodie Foster, Peter Sarsgaard, Sean Bean
29. Planes (2013)
An animated film about a crop duster airplane who dreams about joining the high-flying races in competition. However, Dusty has two major problems; one, he is afraid of heights, and two, he is not very fast. He turns to Skipper, a naval aviator to help him face his fear of heights and prepares him for the race of a lifetime.
- Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
- Release Date: August 9, 2013
- Famous quote: I’ve flown thousands and thousands of miles, and have never gone anywhere.
- Starring: Carlos Alazraqui, Dane Cook, Stacy Keach
30. Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944)
In World War II in the wake of Pearl Harbor, Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle joins the Air Force mission to attack Tokyo, Japan. With no fuel left to make the trip back home, many pilots land on Japanese soil. However, Doolittle is driven by the desire to return to his pregnant wife and crash-lands in the sea. He endures a series of harrowing events in order to return home.
- Genre: History, War, Drama, Airplane Crash
- Release Date: November 15, 1944
- Famous quote: “When I was a kid, I used to dream about going someplace on a ship. Well, here I am!”
- Starring: Spencer Tracy, Van Johnson, Robert Walker