Elisabeth Kindmark

10 flight movies you should see before becoming a pilot

Elisabeth Kindmark

tom cruise

I think we can assume that if you’re reading this, you’re probably already interested in flying and the world of aviation, however, a little extra motivation has never hurt anyone…

It’s safe to say that the subject of flying is popular among filmmakers, whether we’re talking sci-fi, epic war dramas or hilarious comedies - the list of movies in which flying is central to the plotline is long.

We had a chat with some of our flight instructors to sort out their favorite movies on the theme and ended up with a pretty impressive collection. After excluding some of the more specialized documentaries (as it turns out, our instructors really do know their aviation movies…). We’ve narrowed the list down and here is the result – 10 movies to inspire you to become a pilot!

1. Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines (1965)

What? A classic 1960’s slapstick comedy about a flying competition across the English Channel.

Why? A tribute to the early days of aviation, iconic soundtrack & old-school comedy at its best.

2. The Aviator (2004)

What? Leonardo DiCaprio portrays legendary aviator & billionaire Howard Hughes 

Why? Leonardo Dicaprio, pretty self-explanatory really.  

Jokes aside, this movie was rewarded 5 academy rewards and is an excellent portrayal of Hughes - airline founder, airplane designer and aviation record holder. 


3. Pearl Harbor (2001)   

What? Hollywood’s interpretation of the air strike on the American naval base Pearl Harbor, which led to the United States' entry into WWll

Why? Alright, this one is to be frank, a bit of a cliché... However, the 40 min long battle scene is epic, well directed and well worth a watch.


4. Les chevaliers du ciel (2005)

What? A French version of Top Gun

Why? Worth watching for the cinematography and aerial scenes alone, the movie was made in cooperation with the French Air Force, using real planes and pilots, the result is pretty spectacular.


5. Snakes on a plane (2006)

What? Cue Samuel L Jackson and a bunch of highly poisonous snakes, 30 000 ft up in the air. 

Why? For comic relief. 


6. Airplane! (1980)

What? Food poisoning strikes the crew of an airplane and an ex-fighter pilot must try to land the plane safely. 

Why? Prepare for a one-liner bonanza and to never be able to refer to an autopilot the same way again…


7. Sully (2016)

What? The movie adaption of the story behind the safe landing of U.S. Airways Flight 1549, also known as the “Miracle on the Hudson”

Why? If you want to become a pilot and is somewhat familiar with the events on January 15 in 2009, this is pretty self-explanatory. Tom Hanks is brilliant as always.


8. Amelia (2009)

What? Amelia Earhart was the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, she tragically disappeared during her attempt to circumnavigate the world in 1937. This is one of the film adaptations of her life.

Why? The real-life Earhart was an awesome woman, and aviatrix, whose story deserves to be told.


9. One Six Right (2005)

What? A documentary about a local airport in California

Why? The concept might not sound that exciting, but fear not, this is truly a tribute to the world of aviation! Pilots, and avid enthusiasts alike, agree that the movie manages to capture, and visualize, the feeling that attracts people to flying. Simply a-must-see for any aspiring pilot!  


10. Top Gun (1986)

What? A young Tom Cruise as fighter pilot Maverick in the most iconic flight movie of all time.

Why? “I feel the need … the need for speed”, honestly, this list wouldn’t be complete without Top Gun. 80s clichés, shirtless volleyball games, a smug Tom Cruise and a classic soundtrack, what else can you wish for?

Love it or hate it, the movie is as cherished today as when it first premiered 30 years ago, and will most likely remain an iconic reference for years to come.


Already an avid Top Gun fan and considering to follow in Mavericks footsteps? How does flight training in San Diego a.k.a. the home of Top Gun sound? Pretty great, huh?

As it happens, San Diego happens to be the home of OSMAA’s American headquarter, and our Professional Pilot Program - to get an idea of how awesome it is to train to become a pilot in California click below to download our student guide. But first, let us know about your favorite flight movie in the comments section!  

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The OSM Aviation Academy blog is your destination for everything related to aviation and flight training. If you are wondering if you should become a pilot, this blog will give you insight and inspiration to fuel your decision making process. Choose your frequency down below.

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