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Dear Aviators, 

I have to admit that I have never watched so many movies and series before like in 2019. The pandemic with its lockdowns (now the 2nd one in Germany) made it possible. The free time you would normally spend with friends, going to a restaurant or working out in the gym you spend now at home. What to do in the evening when there is nothing else to do? Turn on the TV and watch my favorite aviation movies. 

favorite aviation movies

I present to you my favorite aviation movies you have to watch as well. Airplanes: They’re a useful mode of transportation, reliable subject matter for hacky stand-up comics, and a linchpin for some of the most memorable movies ever made.

Ironically, many of my choices would never play on an actual airplane: They would be too upsetting for most passengers on board. The thrill and terror of flying is the perfect dramatic device to create chills, scares, and big laughs.

Which streaming provider should you use?

The perfect streaming which provides all movies for a monthly flat rate does not exist yet. I use a combination of providers to have the best flexibility and the best selection. 

The streaming providers I am using:

NETFLIX
AMAZON PRIME
SKY CINEMA

favorite aviation movies

My Favorite Aviation Movies  

(sorted by year of publication)

TOP GUN

1986 ACTION / DRAMA IMDB 6,9

A legendary aviation movie. During my private jet I flew once Meg Ryan. After my duty I arrived at the hotel and turned on the TV. The channel which came up was broadcasting Top Gun. Such a funny coincidence. 

Plot: The Top Gun Naval Fighter Weapons School is where the best of the best train to refine their elite flying skills. When hotshot fighter pilot Maverick (Tom Cruise) is sent to the school, his reckless attitude and cocky demeanor put him at odds with the other pilots, especially the cool and collected Iceman (Val Kilmer). But Maverick isn’t only competing to be the top fighter pilot, he’s also fighting for the attention of his beautiful flight instructor, Charlotte Blackwood (Kelly McGillis).

EXECUTIVE DECISION

1996 ACTION / THRILLER IMDB 6,4

I do not know how often I have watched this movie as a teenager. I was fascinated how the stealth bomber docks underneath a Boeing B747 mid-flight.

Plot: When terrorists hijack a plane traveling from Greece to Washington, D.C., U.S. Army specialist David Grant (Kurt Russell) and Lt. Colonel Austin Travis (Steven Seagal) join forces to bring the plane to safety. While terrorists on board the plane claim they hijacked the plane to force the U.S. government to release their leader, who was captured by military forces, David and Austin discover that the plane is carrying a bomb full of nerve gas to be released on Washington, D.C.

AIR FORCE ONE

1997 ACTION / THRILLER IMDB 6,5

The movie is worth watching just because you can find out how the Air Force One looks inside!

Plot: After making a speech in Moscow vowing to never negotiate with terrorists, President James Marshall (Harrison Ford) boards Air Force One with his family (Wendy Crewson, Liesel Matthews) and advisers. When a group of terrorists led by Ivan Korshunov (Gary Oldman) hijacks the flight, the President’s principles are put to the test. Feigning escape, ex-soldier Marshall stows away in the aircraft and must race against time to rescue his family and everyone else on board.

CATCH ME IF YOU CAN 

 2002 Crime / Drama IMDB 8,5

One of my favorite movie scenes: Leonardo DiCaprio walks as pilot with his good looking crew through the airport terminal. 

Plot: Frank Abagnale, Jr. (Leonardo DiCaprio) worked as a doctor, a lawyer, and as a co-pilot for a major airline — all before his 18th birthday. A master of deception, he was also a brilliant forger, whose skill gave him his first real claim to fame: At the age of 17, Frank Abagnale, Jr. became the most successful bank robber in the history of the U.S. FBI Agent Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks) makes it his prime mission to capture Frank and bring him to justice, but Frank is always one step ahead of him.

THE AVIATOR

2004 Drama / Epic IMDB 7,5

You cannot get more aviation in a movie. This is why it is one of my favorite aviation movies. It shows that bravery and passion is needed to shape and develop aviation. 

Plot: Billionaire and aviation tycoon Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a successful public figure: a director of big-budget Hollywood films such as “Hell’s Angels,” a passionate lover of Hollywood leading ladies Katharine Hepburn (Cate Blanchett) and Ava Gardner (Kate Beckinsale), and an aviation pioneer who helps build TWA into a major airline. But in private, Hughes remains tormented, suffering from paralyzing phobias and depression. The higher he rises, the further has to fall.

RED EYE

2005 THRILLER / MYSTERY IMDB 6,4

Did you know? In commercial aviation, a red-eye flight is a flight scheduled to depart at night and arrive the next morning. The term “red-eye” derives from the symptom of having red eyes, which can be caused by fatigue.

Plot: In the wake of her grandmother’s funeral, hotel manager Lisa Reisert (Rachel McAdams) is waiting to fly back home when she meets charming Jackson Rippner (Cillian Murphy) at check-in. She thinks it’s lucky that they’re seated together on the plane, but soon learns otherwise. Jackson hopes to assassinate the head of Homeland Security, but to do so, he needs Lisa to reassign the official’s room number at her hotel. As insurance, Jackson has kidnapped Lisa’s father (Brian Cox).

FLIGHT PLAN

2005 THRILLER / MYSTERY IMDB 6,3

For an avgeek it is always hard to watch a movie in which “fake” airplanes are used. In this one it is a better looking A380. 

Plot: Airplane engineer Kyle Pratt (Jodie Foster) is heading home from Germany to New York on a double-decker Elgin 474 to bury her husband. But three hours into the flight, she awakens to find her young daughter missing — and the entire flight crew, including Capt. Rich (Sean Bean) and Air Marshal Gene Carson (Peter Sarsgaard), claims that the child was never on board. Determined to find her daughter, Kyle searches the limited space of the plane, all the while trying to maintain her sanity.

FLIGHT

2012 Drama / Thriller IMDB 7,3

The movie tackles the very real issues that some pilots have had with drugs and alcohol. Pilots are regular people, and in my opinion they are more susceptible to addiction given the irregular schedules, sleep loss, loneliness, and temptation faced when living out of a suitcase on multi day trips.

Plot: Commercial airline pilot Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) has a problem with drugs and alcohol, though so far he’s managed to complete his flights safely. His luck runs out when a disastrous mechanical malfunction sends his plane hurtling toward the ground. Whip pulls off a miraculous crash-landing that results in only six lives lost. Shaken to the core, Whip vows to get sober — but when the crash investigation exposes his addiction, he finds himself in an even worse situation.

INTERSTELLAR

2014 SIFI / ADVENTURE IMDB 8,6 

This is one of my favorite aviation movies. Thrilling, exciting and makes you think Less aviation but more space travel.

Plot: In Earth’s future, a global crop blight and second Dust Bowl are slowly rendering the planet uninhabitable. Professor Brand (Michael Caine), a brilliant NASA physicist, is working on plans to save mankind by transporting Earth’s population to a new home via a wormhole. But first, Brand must send former NASA pilot Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and a team of researchers through the wormhole and across the galaxy to find out which of three planets could be mankind’s new home.

NON STOP

2014 ACTION / THRILLER IMDB 6,9

Plot: Alcoholic and world-weary, U.S. Air Marshal Bill Marks (Liam Neeson) lost his passion for his work long ago. Even though lives are potentially at stake during every flight, he sees the assignment as just a desk job. However, his “ordinary day at the office” becomes a high-stakes crisis during a flight to London. Marks receives a series of text messages demanding that he instruct the airline to transfer $150 million into an offshore account, or a passenger will die every 20 minutes.

SULLY

2016 DRAMA IMDB 7,4

Pilot Sully, our aviation hero. It is shocking to see which legal processes he had to go through even though he saved all lives. 

Plot: On Jan. 15, 2009, Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) tries to make an emergency landing in New York’s Hudson River after US Airways Flight 1549 strikes a flock of geese. Miraculously, all of the 155 passengers and crew survive the harrowing ordeal, and Sullenberger becomes a national hero in the eyes of the public and the media. Despite the accolades, the famed pilot now faces an investigation that threatens to destroy his career and reputation.

7500

2019 Thriller / Drama IMDB 6,3

The movie was entirely shot from inside the cockpit. Sounds boring. Not really. It had some really exciting but also illogical parts. Find out yourself. 

Plot: Tobias Ellis starts his shift as a co-pilot and everything seems normal, but things quickly take a turn when terrorists storm the cockpit of his Airbus A319, and hijack the plane.

THE AERONAUTS

2019 ADVENTURE / DRAMA IMDB 6,6

Plot: In 1862 headstrong scientist James Glaisher and wealthy young widow Amelia Wren mounted a balloon expedition to fly higher than anyone in history. As their perilous ascent reduces their chances of survival, the unlikely duo soon discover things about themselves — and each other — that help both of them find their place in the world.

AD ASTRA

2019 Science Fiction / Drama IMDB 6,5 

Not a movie about aviation rather about space travel. I really enjoyed how the filmmakers visualized the future traveling to the moon and mars. 

Plot: Thirty years ago, Clifford McBride led a voyage into deep space, but the ship and crew were never heard from again. Now his son — a fearless astronaut — must embark on a daring mission to Neptune to uncover the truth about his missing father and a mysterious power surge that threatens the stability of the universe.

Enjoy watching my favorite aviation movies. Make sure you like my blog post and let me know about which one is your favorite!

I wish you a merry Christmas my Aviator! Stay safe and healthy!

Your PilotPatrick

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