What's your favorite airplane movie?

November 5, 2013

Pilots have discriminating taste when it comes to aviation movies.  It’s not just about the actors or special effects, but about the plot’s trueness to aviation, historical accuracy, and physics of flight. With that in mind, AOPA Pilot asked readers for their favorite airplane movies after listing the 10 great airplane movies according to Time magazine. Based on the response from members, many of those on Time’s list wouldn’t have even scratched the bottom of theirs.

Time listed Hell’s Angels, Airport, The Great Waldo Pepper, Airplane!, Top Gun, Fearless, The Aviator, United 93, Amelia, and Flight.

“What does Time magazine know about best airplane movies,” AOPA member Charles Criss wrote. Criss insisted that Twelve O’Clock High starring Gregory Peck was among the top aviation movies, and several other members agreed. Member Ric Lee said the movie was “absolutely a classic,” and John Rosenberg called it “one of the best of all time.”

Few members could pick just one favorite. John Wahl said, “here are some great ones that they missed BIG TIME!”: The Spirit of St. Louis, Battle of Britain, The Blue Max, Strategic Air Command, A Gathering of Eagles, and The Right Stuff. Wahl’s list encompassed several that other members mentioned.

One member took issue with the recent movie Flight being included as a great aviation movie. “Even DR STRANGE LOVE is a better airplane movie than FLIGHT,” Robert Hendricks said. Dr. Strangelove was on another member’s favorite list.

So what made the list of members’ favorites? Here they are, in no particular order: The Bridges at Toko-Ri, Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines or How I flew from London to Paris in 25 hours 11 minutes, Air America, The Spirit of St. Louis, The Flight of the Phoenix, Strategic Air Command, The Boy who Flew with Condors, Always, A Guy Named Joe, Twelve O’Clock High, The Crowded Sky, Midway, Red Tails, Stealth, Fire Birds, The High and the Mighty, Firefox, Flying Tigers, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, Flyboys, Flying Leathernecks, The Blue Max, Dark Blue World, Battle of Britain, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, The Hunters, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, X-15, The Dawn Patrol, Island in the Sky, The Dam Busters, Tora! Tora! Tora!, Jet Pilot, The Big Lift, Blue Thunder, The Red Baron, The War Lover, Black Eagle, Island in the Sky, A Gathering of Eagles, The Right Stuff, and High Road to China.

If there are some you haven’t seen, you might add them to your list of must-see movies during the winter lull in flying, or drop some hints for holiday gifts.

Was your favorite listed? If not, share it with us in the comments area below.