Fly high with these action-packed aviation movies

Planes in the sky
Planes in the sky

Fly high with these action-packed aviation movies

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Okinawa

It’s time to grab your popcorn! Following a 36-year hiatus, the saga of Pete “Maverick” Mitchell returned to the big screen in “Top Gun: Maverick” last year and reignited our love for aviation movies. Here are 10 action-packed flicks to create your own aviation film marathon.

“Top Gun” (1986) – The OG Top Gun has it all: high-speed aerial dogfights, a rebellious yet brilliant Navy pilot, bromances, romances and a classic singing-in-the-bar scene. Complete with a killer 80s soundtrack courtesy of Kenny Loggins and former new wave band Berlin, this iconic film is worth the one-hour, 40-minute ride. Available on Amazon Prime Video, Paramount+ and Netflix.

“Iron Eagle” (1986) – When a veteran pilot is shot down over enemy territory, what is a hot-headed high school graduate to do? If your answer is to grab a Walkman, Louis Gossett, Jr. and a couple of F-16s to stage an unauthorized rescue mission for your dad, then you’ve got the plot of this 80s flick. “Iron Eagle” eventually grew into a franchise with two sequels; however, let’s stick with the first one. Available on HBO Max.

“Strategic Air Command” (1955) – Reaching further back into the vault for this classic, veteran actor James Stewart is a former pilot recalled back to the Air Force into the Strategic Air Command. With the rapid escalation of the Cold War, his unit is tasked with nuclear deterrence. The movie will keep you captivated by dangerous missions and unfortunate mishaps along the way. Available on Amazon Prime Video and Hulu.

“Behind Enemy Lines” (2001) – Owen Wilson portrays cynical Navy pilot Chris Burnett, tasked with flying routine reconnaissance missions over Bosnia. Noticing something amiss within a NATO no-fly zone, he flies off course and is shot down over hostile territory. Burnett must find his extraction points without getting killed while his commander navigates through politics and bureaucracy to rescue him. Available on Tubi and Hulu.

“Captain Marvel” (2019) – With plenty of flight time in fighters and other-worldly aircraft, combat scenes, friendships, saving the world (and the universe), a Nick Fury backstory and a great 90s grunge soundtrack, this Marvel movie is a great thrill ride. Although it ties into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), it’s easily watched as a standalone film. Available on TNT and Disney+.

“The Tuskegee Airmen” (1995) – With an impressive cast including Laurence Fishburn, Courtney B. Vance, Andre Braugher and Cuba Gooding, Jr., this made-for-TV movie tells the story of the first African American Army Air Corps pilots. Suffering racial prejudice and harassment, the Tuskegee Airmen became some of the most distinguished and successful fliers in the U.S. military. Available on HBO Max.

“Flyboys” (2006) – Based somewhat loosely on a true story, “Flyboys” is set during World War I. A group of unlikely Americans (headlined by a pouty James Franco) volunteer to fly for the French military, forming the Lafayette Escadrille. There’s enough aerial action, humor and romance to keep your interest. Available on Tubi.

“Memphis Belle” (1990) – After 24 successful bombing missions over Germany during World War II, the crew of the Memphis Belle embarks on their final and record-breaking 25th mission. Between bad weather, anxiety and heavy surface-to-air fire coming from Bremen, the struggle to stay airborne and get home alive is real.

“Pearl Harbor” (2001) – This epic drama follows the footsteps of two Army Air Corps pilots in WWII before, during and after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Although there’s a bit of cheesy dialogue and lackluster acting, many aerial combat action sequences and beautiful scenery will keep you occupied. Available on Tubi and Amazon Prime Video.

“Le Chevaliers du Ciel (Sky Fighters)” (2005) – At an air show in England, a French Mirage 2000 fighter jet is hijacked by a terrorist organization. Two pilots are tasked with finding and shooting down the rogue aircraft. During their mission, they uncover and unravel a network of international espionage. With plenty of fast-paced flying between the Mirage and F-16s, you’ll be on the edge of your seat with this action-packed French thriller. Available on Tubi.

Bonus films:

“Air Force One” (1997) – There may not be a lot of risky maneuvers when it comes to the presidential 747. However, you know it’ll be a fun viewing when you’ve got Harrison Ford as the president and Gary Oldman as the villain hijacking said plane mid-air. Available on Tubi, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu.

“Independence Day” (1996) – The mother of all alien invasions and obliteration, this 90s blockbuster features Will Smith, Harry Connick, Jr., Jeff Goldblum and Randy Quaid teaming up to fight back and save the world. Available on HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video and Peacock.


*Movies available on services at time of writing

Subscribe to our Stripes Pacific newsletter and receive amazing travel stories, great event info, cultural information, interesting lifestyle articles and more directly in your inbox!

Follow us on social media!

Facebook: Stars and Stripes Pacific
Flipboard: Stars and Stripes Community Sites

Looking to travel while stationed abroad? Check out our other Pacific community sites!
Stripes Japan
Stripes Korea
Stripes Guam

Related Content

Recommended Content

Around the Web