The Best Pilots In Movie History

Tom Hanks is back this week in Sully as Chesley Sullenberger, the pilot who somehow managed to land an Airbus A320 in the middle of the Hudson River, which is still just nuts every time you think about it. He’s not the first pilot to blow us away on the big screen. Here are a few of our other favorites.

Come on, you didn’t think I wasn’t going to include Top Gun, did you? It’s one of the most-watched films about flying ever made, and Tom Cruise’s maverick pilot is a big part of the reason why. Honorable mention to Val Kilmer’s Iceman, who’s pretty ace too.
20th Century Fox
No list containing Top Gun is complete without its magnificent spoof, Hot Shots! starring none other than Charlie Sheen as the funny man’s Tom Cruise. Plus he came back to spoof Rambo in sequel Hot Shots! Part Deux, proving he could be an action hero and a fighter pilot.
‘Whip’ Whitaker
OK, bit of a pros/cons one here. Pro: Whip saves hundreds of lives by safely crash-landing a plane in Flight. Con: he’s a serious drug and alcohol addict, and was flying drunk. So, bit of good, bit of bad.
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The Autopilot
There’s a lot to love in Airplane!, but does anything get better than the cheerful, inflatable autopilot? Obviously not.
Frank Abagnale
Sure, he conned his way into his job as a Pan Am pilot in Catch Me If You Can, which is enough to make you a bit nervous about having him in the cockpit. But he really does know how to work the uniform at least.
Howard Hughes
Leonardo DiCaprio again, this time in The Aviator, but at least here he played a character who really did know how to fly a plane. He designs them too, just to really double down on the plane stuff.
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Steven Hiller
20th Century Fox
One of the greatest tragedies of Independence Day Resurgence is that Will Smith couldn’t be tempted back. How many other pilots could take down a UFO and drag the alien attacker for miles through the desert, and still make it back in time for the final fight scene?