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Pilots share favorite songs for aviation playlistPilots share favorite songs for aviation playlist

Aviators speak out for Stills, Cowsills, LogginsAviators speak out for Stills, Cowsills, Loggins

Who knew that aviators were such a vocal bunch? Pilots, aviation enthusiasts, and AOPA members had such a strong response to the 2019 aviation playlist that we’ve updated it with more of your favorites.

Holly Ciochetti of Clayton, Georgia, dances with her daughter Bella during the AOPA 2017 Tampa Fly-In. Photo by Mike Collins.

Freshen up your aviation playlist with these preferences from fellow pilots.

Treetop Flyer by Stephen Stills was a crowd pleaser for AOPA members Dale Bramer, Jesse Petton, and Todd Bohon. Folk rock aficionados recognize his guitar work as a musical driving force that highlighted his fluid harmonies with David Crosby, Graham Nash, and occasionally Neil Young. Bohon said, “For myself and many of my pilot friends, this is an absolute requirement for our playlists.” We concur.

Expecting to Fly by Buffalo Springfield was written by Neil Young. The lyrics take on different meanings depending on your personal experiences. No matter what the song really means, Young’s syrupy guitar and lyrics float along the psychedelic soft-rock classic like a “feather, expecting to fly.”

Last Train to Kitty Hawk by Balsam Range was recommended by Sun 'n Fun Fly-In technology and audio/visual specialist David McQueary. The song about progress and change honors the Wright brothers’ invention. It has standout steel guitar and bluegrass banjo picking with the upbeat message, “Yesterday is taking off and tomorrow’s gonna’ fly … don’t get left behind.”

10,000 feet by David Grissom was offered up by Kyle Stewart, the chief mechanic at Slipstream Aviation in Dallas. The instrumental background is a blues rocker with exceptional guitar work and praised by GuitarPlayer. Grissom’s talents include playing with John Mellencamp and the Allman Brothers, and musical directing of the Dixie Chicks. We can easily see how this tune would inspire A&Ps.

We Can Fly by the Cowsills struck a chord for John Klimas, who played it “prior to flying with my significant other for the first time.” The family band tune from 1967 has a mean trumpet solo covered later by horn master Al Hirt. Klimas complimented the group’s great harmony, which was augmented by double-tracking in the studio decades before digital production simplified the process.

Spicks and Specks by the Bee Gees was recorded in 1966, and a whimsical black-and-white video was produced at an Australian airfield. The trio of Gibb brothers takes turns participating in a preflight checklist in a six-seat Cessna before disembarking and walking past a hangar of shiny new aircraft.

Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins from Tom Cruise’s Top Gun answers James Tomas’s question via Facebook: “No Danger Zone?” With more than 6 million views on YouTube, we can’t argue. The high-energy, high-octane movie is responsible for attracting scores of Navy pilots to the skies.

Sample 46 additional tunes to help you enjoy the feeling of flight through music and send us more of your favorites. Happy listening.

Check out special SiriusXM offers for AOPA members to make your airplane sing (or laugh, or cry, or cheer). Visit

David Tulis

David Tulis

Associate Editor Web/ePilot
AOPA Associate Editor Web/ePilot David Tulis joined AOPA in 2015 and is a seaplane-rated private pilot who enjoys vintage aircraft, aerobatic flying, and photography.
Topics: Aviation Industry

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