Top 10 Movie Pilots

Top ten movies featuring pilots.

25 April 2018

In this week’s Sunday night movie, Tom Cruise takes to the skies as the pilot-cum-CIA-drug runner Barry Seal, in American Made. It’s not Cruise’s first time in the air, and with that in mind we look at ten movie pilots – or rather ten movies featuring pilots – that we love.

  1. The Aviator

Businessman, movie maker, pilot. The eccentric Howard Hughes had many titles, and his madcap passion for planes, and piloting them himself, is expertly portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in his second outing with director Martin Scorsese.

  1. Con Air

Nicolas Cage’s mullet may have stolen the show in this ‘90s actioner, but a shout-out has to go to M. C. Gainey as inmate Swamp Thing, who takes over as pilot after his fellow convicts hijack the plane transporting them to Alabama.  

  1. Flight

You might not want Whip Whitaker piloting your plane seeing as he’s usually downing a cocktail of alcohol and drugs. But you will want to watch him in this hard-hitting drama from Robert Zemeckis, as said pilot is portrayed by the incredible Denzel Washington.

  1. Hot Shots

Spoof king Jim Abrahams is behind this send-up that riffs off bits of Rocky, Superman, and a lot of Top Gun. Leading the parody pack is pilot Topper Harly, played with parodic aplomb by Charlie Sheen.

  1. Independence Day

Kicking serious alien ass, Will Smith cemented his movie star status as fighter pilot Captain Steven Hiller in this box office blockbuster from disaster master Roland Emmerich.

  1. Star Trek

Getting along very well with aliens is the Starfleet crew. Even though Captain Kirk had his piloting moments, the standout is definitely Hikaru Sulu, played by George Takei in the series and movies, and John Cho in the recent trilogy of rebooted movies.

  1. Star Wars

Staying amongst the stars, but in a galaxy far, far away we come across many more pilots. From the charmingly cocky Han Solo and the endearingly awesome Chewbacca to the roguish Lando Calrissian and the dashing Poe Dameron, there’s an endless array of characters displaying their aeronautical skills. But in this movie universe, it’s not just the men who get behind the controls. Rey pilots the Millennium Falcon in The Force Awakens, while Paige Tico makes a valiant appearance in The Last Jedi.

  1. Sully

Tom Hanks joins forces with director Clint Eastwood to tell the remarkable tale of Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger. Piloting US Airways Flight 1549, he successfully landed the plane on the Hudson River after it was struck by a flock of geese.

  1. Talespin

We’ve had human pilots, we’ve had Wookie pilots. Now we have bear pilots; namely The Jungle Book’s Baloo, who traded the jungle for the sky when he turned pilot in Talespin. Yes, it’s a TV series and not a movie, but we love Baloo and his daring aerial spins so much we had to include him.

  1. Top Gun

Long before Tom Cruise played a pilot in American Made he was Maverick in Top Gun, piloting all the way through the danger zone. Already the cool kid of the ‘80s thanks to Risky Business, his memorable turn in Top Gun is a classic to this day.

Want more airborne movies? Check out the top ten movies set on planes here.

Watch Tom Cruise back in the pilot’s seat in American Made, your #SundayNightMovie at 20:30 on M-Net.