With Denzel Washington up for an Academy Award at the Oscars for his portrayal of a pilot battling his demons (haven't we seen that plot before somewhere?) in Flight, we present our pick of the best flying-themed films in silver screen history.
So, In no particular order, but running from 10 to 1, we present:
10. Die Hard 2
Our favourite hard man hero John McClane (Bruce Willis) is waiting for his wife to arrive at Washington Airport when terrorists take over the air traffic control system. They weren’t counting on encountering McClane though, and he goes on the rampage in order to stop the bad guys and save the day. Whilst not as highly acclaimed that the original Die Hard film, when it comes to plane movies, it definitely deserves a top spot.
George Clooney plays a businessman who perpetually flies around the USA breaking bad news to workers who are being laid off. One day he meets a female version of himself and a love story develops. With an outstanding cast, the movie explores themes of isolation and detachment, but throws in some smart comedy along the way.
When Air Force One is highjacked by Soviet terrorists, it’s up to Mr President (played by Harrison Ford) to save the day from trigger-happy Gary Oldman, who plays the lead terrorist. Bill Clinton commented that many elements of the plane were not true to life. However, Clinton’s remarks didn’t stop Air Force One from being nominated for two Academy Awards.
7. Top Gun
Starring Tom Cruise as a macho fighter pilot, this ‘80s classic still gets a lot of love today. Following the exploits of Lieutenant 'Maverick' Michell and his buddy Nick 'Goose' Bradshaw as they train at the top fighter Weapons School, the film combines a love story with tragedy and some impressive (at the time) dogfighting sequences; this is all-American aerial goodness at its best.
This comedy classic pairs Steve Martin (a highly strung advertising exec) with John Candy (an incredibly chatty and accident prone salesman) as they try to make their way from New York to Chicago in time for Thanksgiving. A timeless piece of film humour, the journey of these mismatched travellers remains a firm favourite.
5. The Terminal
A permanently stranded Tom Hanks cannot fly back to his home nation of Krakozhia due to civil war, but is unable to leave the airport as he has no visa. Inspired by a true story of an Iranian refugee who lived in Charles de Gaulle Airport for an 18 year stay, it’s a touching and amusing tale of how a man makes an airport his home.
Gaining a huge internet following before its release, this slightly ridiculous film sees a crate of venomous snakes smuggled onto the plane to take out an eyewitness to a murder. The crate opens mid-flight and snakes begin to make their way through the cabin which leads to a serpentine battle at altitude, which blends deadpan comedy and thrills in equal mix.
Based on the 1964 novel and following the first 1965 movie, this 2004 remake stars Dennis Quaid and Kirk Jones. The film follows a plane crash that leaves a rag-tag bunch stranded in an uncharted area of the Mongolian Gobi desert. Together, they manage to cobble together a new plane from the wreckage and eventually fly it to civilisation – although not everyone makes it back alive.
2. Con Air
Nicolas Cage plays a former US solider who is about to get paroled from prison on good behaviour. But to get home, he finds himself on a flight full of psychopathic murderers who take over the plane under the direction of their ringleader, Cyrus 'The Virus' Grissom. This high-octane airborne movie follows Cage as he battles to bring justice, crash land the plane and save his own skin in the process.
This spoof disaster movie still has a cult following even 30 years after it first hit our screens. Starring Leslie Nielsen, this absurdly funny film follows a traumatised ex-fighter pilot who must try and fly the plane following a bout of food poisoning that takes out the pilots and most of the passengers, in order to win the love of an air stewardess.
What are your fave films about flying? Tell us what you think. Here are a few more contenders to consider:
Catch Me if You Can - Tom Hanks is an FBI agent on the trail of fake pilot Leo DiCaprio.
The Aviator - Leo DiCaprio racks up another flying-related role as aviation nut Howard Hughes.
Executive Decision - before Air Force One, there was this.
Passenger 57 - Wesley Snipes, guns etc
Airport - probably the inspiration for Airplane, starring Burt Lancaster and Dean Martin.
Happy Flight - the Japanese Airplane!
Memphis Belle - Matthew Modine, Eric Stoltz , need we say more?
Turbulence 3: Heavy Metal - Rutger Hauer turns in his finest performance since Bladerunner