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The highest grossing aviation movies

16 May 2022

The highest grossing aviation movies

Some of the most iconic moments in cinema history come from the skies, with highly skilled stunt men and women taking flight in search of that perfect shot.

Since the dawn of the 20th Century, one of human's greatest achievements has been the creation of flight, which is now a common sight as millions of people travel around the globe every single day.

But in the movies, it's all about telling stories of death-defying aviation feats, whether fictional or not. And here at, we walk you through some of the most popular aviation movies ever made.

  • Pearl Harbor

Clocking in at 183 minutes and taking $449.2m at the global box office upon its release in 2001, this epic retelling of the Pearl Harbor attack on the American Naval Forces in December 1941 is by far the longest movie on this list.

Starring Josh Hartnett, Ben Affleck and Kate Beckinsale, and being directed by Michael Bay, you could expect grand explosions, overdramatisation and a summer blockbuster to remember.

The planes primarily used in the attack were Mitsubishi powered Aichi 3A2 dive bombers, where the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service flew to the coast of Hawaii in droves in a preventive attack against the Americans during World War II.

  • Top Gun

After 36 years, Tom Cruise returns as Pete 'Maverick' Mitchell in the long awaited sequel to the 1986 cult classic, Top Gun. Known for being one of the most ambitious actors in Hollywood, Cruise has spent extra time perfecting some of the fighter jet stunts in the pursuit of authenticity.

Making $357.1m at the global box office against just a $15m budget, 23 year old Cruise took the world by storm in this aviation classic as a young naval aviator who looks to make his way up the ranks of the US Navy. Now, at 59 years old, the box office legend shows no signs of slowing down as he's set to release his most daring and audacious movie to date.

  • The Aviator

Arguably one of Leonardo DiCaprio's most underrated movies in his long and storied career, The Aviator tells the tale of Howard Hughes, an aviation pioneer and budding director as he battles his ever present obsessive-compulsive disorder on the rise to becoming a successful filmmaker.

Directed by Martin Scorsese, the film was a massive critical success, collecting eleven Oscar nominations including Best Picture and Best Actor for DiCaprio, as well as making $213m at the box office upon its release in 2004.

Although the film was shot using scale models of some classic planes of the time such as the 'Spruce Goose' – a transport plane used during World War II, its authenticity of using real life props instead of CGI is what really makes this picture one of the all time greats.

  • Flight

Known as one of the finest actors of the past generation, Denzel Washington has produced some of the greatest acting performances of the last 20+ years. And in 2012, Washington gave another Oscar nominated and commercially successful performance, garnering $161.7m at the box office worldwide.

His depiction of a pilot who miraculously crash lands a plane successfully and saves everyone onboard, albeit under the influence of alcohol and dealing the resulting aftermath has been lauded by critics.

If you're looking for the thrill of taking flight, be sure to visit for a wide range of Flying Experiences such as Pleasure Flights, Hot Air Balloon Rides and even Skydiving at locations around the UK.

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