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Top 10 Greatest Airplane Movies

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Tiffany Ezuma. Excitement always seems to happen at ten thousand feet! The cabin or cockpit of an airplane has been the setting of plenty of movies – many of which are exciting, thrilling and sometimes terrifying. In this video, counts down our picks for the top 10 greatest airplane movies. For this list, we’ve picked the most action packed, cloud soaring movie trips. Now make sure your seatbelts are securely fastened, and enjoy the flight! Special thanks to our users viliguns and Andy Roehl for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Script written by Tiffany Ezuma.

Top 10 Greatest Airplane Movies

Excitement always seems to happen at ten thousand feet! Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 greatest airplane movies.

For this list, we’ve picked the most action packed, cloud soaring movie trips. Now make sure your seatbelts are securely fastened, and enjoy the flight!

#10: “Executive Decision” (1996)

Kidnappings, hijackings, and the Chechen mafia – this film has it all! After terrorists take over a 747 bound for Washington D.C., a U.S. intelligence consultant must find a way to stop the plane from landing on American soil. The experts devise a plan to board the hijacker’s plane midair, essentially hijacking the hijackers! To top it off, the team has to detonate a bomb once on board. Talk about a stressful situation!

#9: “Air America” (1990)

A buddy comedy with a message is the perfect way to describe this pick. Mel Gibson and Robert Downey Jr. play two pilots flying planes for the mysterious “Air America” company in Laos during the Vietnam War. But, the two men find out their planes are being used to smuggle heroin. To avoid being framed, they must find a way to thwart the men behind the scheme. Plane crashes and heroic rescues bring the action!

#8: “United 93” (2006)

You know how it ends, but you can’t help but be enthralled by the plight of the United 93 passengers. This was the first big-screen attempt to recreate the events of September 11th, 2001, and it strives for such realism it feels like a fly-on-the-wall documentary. Detailing the passenger uprising against some 9/11 terrorists, “United 93” somehow manages to avoid politics and is instead a suspenseful thriller – but it’s still difficult to watch.

#7: “Hell’s Angels” (1930)

Considered by critics as one of the first blockbuster action films with sound, this movie’s production was wrought with complications, which included multiple pilot deaths, budget issues, and a lawsuit. But despite this, producer Howard Hughes created a masterpiece that tells the story of two brothers, both combat pilots in WWI, who are in love with the same girl. However, the film’s most iconic scene occurs when the German Zeppelin bombs London.

#6: “Con Air” (1997)

Any movie set on a prison airplane is a good one in our book! After Cameron Poe is sent to federal prison on charges of manslaughter, he boards “The Jailbird” as a way to get home to his family. Given the opportunity to escape, the plane’s passengers – some of whom are very dangerous criminals – take the plane hostage, making for a thrilling action flick. And let’s not forget Nicolas Cage’s hair and accent – too good!

#5: “Up in the Air” (2009)

With George Clooney at the helm, this is a film about a corporate firer whose jet set lifestyle keeps him in flight for most of his time – and he’s got the frequent flyer miles to prove it. Though flight in this film is used more as a symbol of Ryan Bingham’s loneliness and lack of relationships, it’s obvious that Bingham is more at home in an airport than on his own couch.

#4: “Air Force One” (1997)

After the president’s airplane is hijacked by Russian terrorists, the president must decide whether to negotiate or risk his family’s lives. Hailed as one of the best action films of the ‘90s, Harrison Ford makes a badass U.S. president as he fights his kidnappers on the plane. The non-stop action earned the movie two Oscar nods and two thumbs up from Bill Clinton, the sitting president at the film’s release.

#3: “The Aviator” (2004)

Howard Hughes’ name is synonymous with airplanes, so it’s no surprise this biopic starring Leonardo DiCaprio did well at the box office and won five Academy Awards. The film tells the story of Hughes’ many business ventures, his obsession with planes, and his struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Director Martin Scorsese outdid himself with the film’s replicas of Howard’s planes – but “the Spruce Goose,” his flying boat, was by far the best.

#2: “Airplane!” (1980)

Being a passenger on a plane can be a crazy experience but real-life isn’t nearly as zany as this flick. Hijinks ensue when the passengers and crew contract a virus from a parasitic worm. With no one left to fly the plane, it’s up to an ex-fighter pilot with a paralyzing fear of flying to get them home safely. Hailed as one the best comedies ever, this movie is full of laughs.

Before we unveil our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- “Die Hard 2: Die Harder” (1990)
- “Red Eye” (2005)
- “Battle of Britain” (1969)
- “The Blue Max” (1966)

#1: “Top Gun” (1986)

Was there really another choice? The movie stars Tom Cruise at his best as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, a cocky, young pilot training at the Navy’s Fighter Weapons School, which is also known as “Top Gun.” There he breaks all the rules and even falls in love. It’s a quintessential ‘80s flick with the soundtrack, campy dialogue, and beach volleyball scenes to prove it; but the dogfighting sequences, overall feel-good vibe and epic flying footage secure its top spot on our list.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite airplane movie? For more high-flying Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to

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