10 Great Aviation Documentaries Worth Watching

17 October 2022   |  Updated on February 05, 2024

Watching aviation documentaries on your TV or YouTube is an entertaining way of learning the exciting history behind the study, design, development, and production of the fantastic aircraft we see flying today.

Aviation documentaries cover various topics, including the inspiring acts of pioneer aviators and test pilots who took extraordinary risks to chart a path into the unknown. They recreate historic global air wars and the impact of military aircraft from each era on the fight for freedom. And the famous aviation inventors, engineers, and entrepreneurs who risked their health, sanity, and fortunes to create the extraordinary world of limitless opportunities afforded by air travel.

Depending on your interests, there are countless aviation documentaries to discover.

So, if you are short on ideas on what to watch, we have compiled an interesting selection of aviation documentaries on DVD and from YouTube for your next movie night.

1. One Six Right

One Six Right is one of the most significant aviation documentaries ever produced for a good reason. It provides an unparalleled glimpse into airport operations and the broader general aviation landscape. For those keen on understanding the intricacies of contemporary airport dynamics, this documentary is a must-watch. Dive into its captivating visuals and gain a newfound appreciation for the world of aviation.

Available on: DVD

"One Six Right" Opening Sequence (remastered for Blu-ray)

2. The Disciples of Flight

Dive into an immersive aviation documentary that pays tribute to the magic of flight, the allure of aircraft, and the tight-knit community bound by their shared passion. Embark on a journey to capture the essence of piloting a small airplane, delve into the compelling reasons behind individuals’ gravitation towards the skies, and discover the transformative impact of aviation on the lives of its most ardent devotees.

Available on: Amazon Prime Video

Disciples of Flight Documentary Film

3. The Wright And The Evolution Of Aviation

Tracing the roots of aviation, this enhanced historical documentary delves deep into the pioneering journey of flight. At the heart of this tale are the Wright brothers, Orville (August 19, 1871 – January 30, 1948) and Wilbur (April 16, 1867 – May 30, 1912). These American visionaries are celebrated for their monumental contribution to aviation: crafting and piloting the world’s inaugural successful motorized airplane. Their groundbreaking flight took place on December 17, 1903, near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, specifically at the location now recognized as Kill Devil Hills. Beyond this achievement, the duo introduced innovative aircraft controls, laying the foundation for fixed-wing powered flight as we know it. Dive into this documentary and journey through the transformative early years of aviation.

Available on: YouTube

THE WRIGHT BROTHERS And The Evolution Of Aviation | Upscaled Documentary

4. Howard Hughes: The Great Aviator – His Life, Loves & Films – A Documentary

Delve into the multifaceted life of Howard Hughes, a pivotal figure of the 20th Century. His story is a tapestry of inspiration, ambition, and poignant moments. This documentary offers a unique perspective on Hughes, shedding light on his personal and professional endeavors. Through exclusive interviews and rare footage, journey into the heart and mind of this enigmatic American legend.

Available on: Amazon Prime Video

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5. For the Love of Flight

Debuted in 2016, this documentary delves deep into the captivating realm of aviation. With its breathtaking cinematography, it resonates profoundly with the emotions and sensations experienced by student pilots. Dive into a 40-minute visual odyssey that captures the very essence and passion of flying.

Available on: Youtube

For the Love of Flight (Full Version HD)

6. Kitty Hawk: The Wright Brothers’ Journey of Invention

Relive the gripping story of Wilbur and Orville Wright, the two brothers who made the first successful manned flight in this historical documentary. This beautiful documentary packs several special features following the Wright brother’s epic journey to the skies. These include rare pictures of the brothers, replicas of the Wright Flyer, and actual video footage of the brothers in flight. Narrated by legendary astronauts Neil Armstrong and John Glenn in the voices of Orville and Wilbur. Kitty Hawk: The Wright Brother’s Journey of Invention perfectly preserves the incredible origins of modern aviation for another generation.

Available on: DVD

Kitty Hawk: The Wright Brothers' Journey of Invention - promo

7. Jumbo: The Plane that Changed the World

Jumbo: The Plane That Changed The World is an excellent aviation documentary about the Queen of The Skies’ bumpy liftoff. It takes viewers through the development, production, and rocky internal politics at Boeing Aircraft and Pan Am, which threatened to derail the production of the first jumbo jet and the most iconic passenger airliner in history. Watch numerous interviews with the engineers who built the 747 prototypes and hear them explain the challenges of the technology behind the aircraft. And how Boeing Aircraft gambled its entire future on developing the 747, creating an aircraft that revolutionized air travel and probably the world’s most beloved airplane.

Available on:  YouTube

Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet The Plane that Changed the World

8. The Battle of Britain and Bomber Boys, with Colin and Ewan McGregor

Ex-British fighter pilot Colin McGregor and his movie star brother Ewan McGregor teamed up to produce The Battle of Britain and Bomber Boys. Both historical aviation documentaries tell the gripping war stories of British bomber squadrons during World War 2 and pay tribute to their sacrifice over enemy territory. Special features in the documentaries include interviews with surviving veterans and excellent color archive footage of Lancaster bombers in action during the Second World War. Viewers also get to watch Colin McGregor’s attempt to fly a Spitfire in The Battle of Britain and the brother’s flight in a Lancaster at the end of the Bomber Boys. The Battle of Britain and Bomber Boys is an interesting work and is guaranteed to provide kicks for aviation buffs and historians.

Available on: DVD

9. Concorde: A Supersonic Story

A Supersonic Story unveils the turbulent history behind creating the most glamorous and stylish airplane ever built, the Anglo-French supersonic Concorde. First aired by BBC 4 in 2017, the documentary unravels Concord’s story through a beautiful narration by British actress Sophie Okonedo. It features interviews with engineers who spoke about numerous technical challenges they encountered during the aircraft’s development leading to significant budget overruns that almost ended the project. Viewers learn about the acrimonious French and British infighting over Concorde’s spelling and get a glimpse of archive footage of the British royal family, celebrities, and other glamorous passengers of the dream in the sky.

Available on: YouTube

Concorde - A Supersonic Story (BBC Documentary)

10. Miracle of the Hudson Plane Crash

Everyone loves a feel-good story, and that is what the Miracle of the Hudson Plane Crash is all about. This remarkable aviation documentary offers viewers a breathtaking minute-by-minute account of the US Airways Flight 1549 ‘miracle landing’ on the Hudson River with 155 passengers moments after losing both engines to a bird strike shortly after takeoff. It features exclusive interviews with rescue crews and the compelling testimonies of several passengers who recount the feelings of terror and helplessness during the most terrifying phase of their lives.

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You can also check Errol Morris’ Leaving the Earth, a gripping documentary on Denis Fitch, a United Airlines pilot and passenger on the doomed United Airlines Flight 232 crash in 1989.

Available on: Public Television, Cable TV, Video Streaming