#Avgeek Alert: Top 10 Aviation Movies Handpicked by Euro Jet In-House Experts
Summer is quickly coming to its end, as it usually does. As the nights are getting longer and everyone is coming home from their well-deserved vacations, you might find yourself back in your living room wondering how to relax at the end of your workday.
For #avgeeks and film enthusiasts alike, we could not think of a better way to spice up your after-work autumn evenings than with these top ten aviation films, all carefully handpicked by our in-house Euro Jet movie experts.
So, grab your popcorn, settle into your favorite seat (yes, an airplane seat is fine, too), and get ready to soar through the big screen, one cinematic flight at a time.
1) Airplane! (1980)
Rumack: Can you fly this plane, and land it?
Ted Striker: Surely you can’t be serious.
Rumack: I am serious... and don’t call me Shirley.
Airplane! is one of the most famous and hilarious spoof aviation comedies ever created. Its brilliantly funny dialogue and catchphrases are some of the most quoted movie references of all time. Taking inspiration from a 1957 movie called Zero Hour!, and disaster movies of the 1970s, both Airplane! and its sequel Airplane 2 bring out a sense of nostalgia as well as the timeless LOLs.
#Avgeek Fun Fact: Robert Hays who plays Ted Striker, the traumatized former pilot who must land the airplane, is a real-life licensed pilot able to fly even a four-engine aircraft.
You can watch on: Prime Video, AppleTV or Hulu Max
Euro Jet’s Movie Expert Gareth
Our Sales and Marketing Director, Gareth Danker, not only excels in selling Euro Jet’s services across our core region, but he also has a magic ability to sell you on his favorite podcasts, TV shows, and movies. With his film knowledge and 20+ years of aviation experience, it is no wonder he made our movie expert list.
2) The Aviator (2004)
Leonardo DiCaprio has had his fair share of biopic movies. But for this one, he actually learned to fly!
The Aviator is an action-packed and beautifully narrated story about the business magnate, legendary director, and aviation enthusiast Howard Hughes. Directed by Martin Scorsese, The Aviator promises an epic #avgeek movie night.
#Avgeek Fun Fact: 11 model airplanes were constructed in California for the film’s production. Pay special attention to the “Spruce Goose” aircraft when watching the movie – electric motors were used for this particular model.
You can watch on: Fubo, AppleTV or YouTube
3) Air Force One (1997)
It would not be a proper aviation movie list without the most famous aircraft of the free world. U.S. President James Marshall (Harrison Ford) boards Air Force One with his family, and soon faces the ultimate test as a leader and protector of his family as the aircraft gets hijacked by terrorists.
The production of the film was so precise it must impress any #avgeek. The director, Wolfgang Petersen, strived for perfect preparation of all aircraft scenes and even brought Secret Service and Military experts on the team to help the movie become as accurate as possible.
#Avgeek Fun Fact: The body paint on the Air Force One replica (rented standard production Boeing 747) was extremely well done. Not only did people at LAX think the President was in town, but it also fooled the US Air Force itself. While filming the aircraft in the air, suddenly two F/A-18 fighter jets appeared in the sky with the task of finding out why the presidential Air Force One had bullet holes in it. These holes, of course, were only stickers, and the shots were simulated. The misunderstanding was quickly resolved, and the filming could continue.
You can watch on: Disney Plus
4) The Terminal (2004)
In this fan favorite comedy drama loosely based on an actual story of an Iranian refugee who resided in the departure lounge of Terminal 1 at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris for 18 years, Tom Hanks delivers a heart-warming performance as Viktor Navorski stuck at JFK airport.
#Avgeek Fun Fact: The director, Steven Spielberg, built an exact copy of a real modern airport terminal building for the filming. It even included escalators which were purchased from a bankrupt department store. While the terminal’s design is based on Düsseldorf International Airport, the majority of exterior shots and footage with real aircraft were filmed at Montréal–Mirabel International Airport.
You can watch on: Prime video, iTunes, Google Play
Euro Jet’s Movie Expert Ondrej
Our OCC - the central hub of flight support operations in Euro Jet – is full of passionate #avgeeks and movie enthusiasts. One of them is Ondrej Soldat who knows most aviation movies by heart. When Ondrej does not work and does not watch movies, he likes to spend time with his friends at Tabor Airport (LKTA) in the Czech Republic.
5) Dark Blue World (2001)
Having our headquarters in Prague, we could not like Ondrejʼs first movie pick better. Two Czech Air Force pilots escape to England in 1939 to fly and fight for RAF along other fellow Czech pilots. A crash of their Spitfire fighter jets lands them in an unexpected love triangle…
Dark Blue World is one of the best and highest grossing Czech aviation movies. Partially US-produced, it is also the most expensive film ever made in the Czech Republic.
#Avgeek Fun Fact: Twenty-five aircraft models – five of them in life size – were created for the purposes of this movie. Two historic functional Spitfire fighter jets were flown by a Red Bull air racer Nigel Lamb and a pilot Robs Lamplough from the British air base in Duxford. The Spitfire life-sized replicas were so accurate that both pilots would often run toward the laminated models instead of the real jets when it was time for filming. During scenes shot from a helicopter, the Spitfires had to fly at half their normal speed to ensure they would not disappear from the camera too quickly.
You can watch on: AppleTV, Google Play, Amazon
6) American Made (2017)
No aviation-themed movie list would be complete without Tom Cruise. While the 1986 Top Gun is a timeless classic, we should not overlook American Made in which Cruise portrays the cargo pilot Barry Seal who gets recruited by the CIA and ultimately finds himself working for both the CIA and the drug cartel he was initially hired to spy on.
#Avgeek Fun Fact: It comes as no surprise that Tom Cruise piloted the planes himself, even in the scene where he had to land the aircraft on a small airstrip with quickly fading daylight. Cruise also had to learn how to crash a plane and trained with four different aircraft which he drove to the ground to experience what crashing an airplane feels like.
You can watch on: AppleTV, YouTube, Amazon
Women in Aviation
Euro Jet is proud to have an almost equal representation of female colleagues working both at airports as well as our offices. To honor all women in aviation, here is our favorite #avgeek movie pick which takes girl power all the way to the skies.
7) Amelia (2009)
Hillary Swank delivers an amazing performance portraying the aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart. The biographical drama depicts Amelia’s desire to reach the skies since she was a young girl all through the 1920s and 1930s when she became the first female pilot to cross the Atlantic Ocean.
#Avgeek Fun Fact: Amelia’s aircraft used in the film touched down in Equatorial Guinea for refueling but was confiscated by the local government. To secure the aircraft’s release, the filmmakers had to pay a ransom through the embassy. Instead of the 10E Electra flown by Ms Earhart on her last journey, a Lockheed 12 Electra Junior was used during filming. The only difference is in size: the 12 model is smaller compared to the 10E.
You can watch on: AppleTV, Amazon, YouTube
Euro Jet’s Movie Expert Craig
The Fuel department in Euro Jet is powered by Craig Scolding who dedicated his professional career to aviation. An avid movie enthusiast, Craig was a member of the RAF Reserves where he used to teach the RAF Air Cadets how to fly gliders. For 20 years, he was also on 614 Volunteer Gliding Squadron.
8) The Battle of Britain (1969)
“The all-time classic for me is The Battle of Britain. We used to watch this whenever it was a rainy day and we couldn't fly… Pretty much all of the Squadron knew the script by heart,” says Craig.
In the movie, the pilots of the RAF engage in combat with the feared Luftwaffe of Hitler, even though they are outnumbered. Despite facing relentless German bombing raids, the British respond with a determined aerial offensive. Thanks to the strategic brilliance and the exceptional leadership of squadron commanders portrayed by Michael Caine and Christopher Plummer, the British turn the tide.
#Avgeek Fun Fact: The substantial amount of airplanes gathered for this film positioned it as the 35th largest air force globally. The production team managed to find 27 Spitfires; though less than half of them were operational. They also had six Hurricane jets (three were repaired and able to fly), while 50 retired Messerschmitt 109s were purchased from the Spanish Airforce (17 of them were able to fly). An additional 32 Heinkel aircraft were loaned along with pilots from the Spanish Air Force. Most of these aircraft were painted so authentically to match their 1940 design, the aerial footage had to be shot against clouds, and without the contrast background, the aircraft would be completely camouflaged.
You can watch on: Prime Video, Hoopla
9) Pushing Tin (1999)
Often overlooked, Pushing Tin is a hidden gem among aviation movies. With a celebrity line up of John Cusack, Cate Blanchet, Angelina Jolie, and Billy Bob Thornton, it tells the story of two Air Traffic Controllers trying to one-up each other not only at work but also in their personal lives.
#Avgeek Fun Fact: As part of the preparation for their roles, Billy Bob Thornton and John Cusack enrolled in air traffic control training in Toronto. Despite their best efforts, they struggled to memorize air traffic controller codes. As a solution, numerous lines were printed out and attached to the radar screens, serving as cue cards from which they could easily read their dialogue.
You can watch on: AppleTV, Google Play, YouTube
10) Planes (2013)
Raising the next generation of #avgeeks in your family? Then the last movie on our list is just for you.
Big dreams do come true even if you are just a small propeller aircraft named Dusty – and, on top of that, afraid of heights. To overcome his fear and make his dream of becoming high-flying air racer come true, Dusty persuades a naval aviator Skipper to help him.
A fun thing to look for in the movie are the Top Gun references!
#Avgeek Fun Fact: The Disney production places great emphasis on creating stories with precision. In the case of Planes, the involvement of the U.S. Navy played a significant role. Two Navy Commanders were invited to preview an initial cut of the movie and provide their insight.
You can watch on: Disney Plus, AppleTV, Amazon