Top 5 Airplane Movies Based on True Stories

5 February 2024   |  Updated on February 06, 2024

Airplane movies have always captivated audiences, especially those that are based on true stories. There’s something exhilarating about watching the drama and intensity unfold on screen, knowing that these events actually happened. If you’re a fan of thrilling true stories and aviation, then you’re in for a treat. We’ve compiled a list of the top 5 airplane movies that are inspired by real events, guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Top 5 Airplane Movies Based on True Stories

1. The Aviator (2004)

“The Aviator” is a biographical film directed by Martin Scorsese, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes. The movie portrays the life of Hughes, an aviation pioneer who became a successful film producer and an aviation magnate.

It showcases his achievements, including building the Hughes H-1 Racer and H-4 ‘Hercules’, as well as expanding Trans World Airlines.

The film received critical acclaim and was nominated for multiple Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor for Leonardo DiCaprio’s portrayal of Howard Hughes.

The Aviator (2004) Official Trailer #1 - Leonardo DiCaprio

2. Sully (2016)

Sully, also known as Sully: Miracle on the Hudson, is a biographical drama directed by Clint Eastwood. The movie tells the true story of Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger, an experienced pilot who made an emergency landing of US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River in 2009, saving all 155 passengers and crew. This incredible event came to be known as the Miracle on the Hudson.

After the successful landing, Sullenberger faced a challenging aftermath. He had to prove that his decision to land on the river was the best course of action, as there were doubts surrounding his actions. The movie explores the intense scrutiny and public trial that Sullenberger endured in order to validate his heroic actions.

Through the emotional and gripping storytelling of Sully, viewers witness the extraordinary bravery and skill of Chesley Sullenberger, as well as the personal and professional challenges he faced in the aftermath of the Miracle on the Hudson.

As depicted in the movie, Sullenberger’s quick thinking and exceptional piloting skills led to a successful water landing that saved the lives of everyone on board. The events of that fateful day showcased Sullenberger’s exceptional professionalism and unwavering commitment to preserving human life.

Sully - Official Trailer [HD]

3. Amelia (2009)

“Amelia” is a captivating biographical film directed by Mira Nair, featuring the talented Hilary Swank in the role of Amelia Earhart. This movie beautifully narrates the life and achievements of Amelia Earhart, an iconic aviation pioneer who made history with her audacious solo flight attempts. Earhart’s untimely disappearance while attempting to circumnavigate the world in 1937 has intrigued people for decades, making her an enduring legend in the world of aviation.

Throughout the film, “Amelia” showcases Earhart’s incredible feats, most notably her groundbreaking solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean, where she became the first woman in history to achieve such a milestone. This remarkable achievement cemented her place as the most famous woman pilot of her time and a symbol of empowerment for women across the globe.

The movie admirably captures the courage, determination, and relentless spirit of Amelia Earhart, inviting viewers on an emotional journey that explores her motivations, struggles, and unwavering pursuit of her dreams. The compelling storytelling and Hilary Swank’s exceptional portrayal transport the audience back to a time when aviation was still in its infancy and when individuals like Earhart pushed the boundaries of what was possible.

“I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be a challenge to others.” – Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart’s true story continues to inspire generations, and “Amelia” pays a heartfelt tribute to her enduring legacy. The film serves as a poignant reminder of her immense contribution to aviation and the lasting impact she made as a trailblazer for women in male-dominated fields.

Amelia (2009) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers

4. Flight (2012)

“Flight” is a gripping drama directed by Robert Zemeckis, featuring Denzel Washington in the lead role of airline pilot William ‘Whip’ Whitaker. Based on a true story, the movie revolves around Whitaker’s incredible feat of crash-landing a malfunctioning plane, saving the lives of many passengers. However, as the aftermath unfolds, an investigation unveils Whitaker’s secret struggle with addiction, raising questions about his actions during the plane crash.

The film delves deep into the complexities of addiction, exploring its impact on Whitaker’s life and his ability to perform his duties as a pilot. Through intense performances and a thought-provoking storyline, “Flight” sheds light on the personal battles individuals face while working in high-pressure professions.

“Flight” received critical acclaim for its gripping narrative and outstanding performances. Denzel Washington’s portrayal of William ‘Whip’ Whitaker earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. The movie serves as a reminder of the inherent flaws in human nature and the price we pay for our actions.

Engaging and thought-provoking, “Flight” showcases the true story of a heroic pilot and the inner demons he faced. It addresses powerful themes of addiction, responsibility, and the consequences of our choices. Through its compelling storytelling, “Flight” offers viewers a captivating cinematic experience that stays with them long after the credits roll.

Flight TRAILER (2012) Denzel Washington, Robert Zemeckis Movie HD

5. United 93 (2006)

“United 93” is a drama film directed by Paul Greengrass, portraying the story of the passengers and crew who fought against the terrorists on United Airlines Flight 93 on September 11, 2001. The movie showcases the bravery and heroism of the individuals who prevented the terrorists from reaching their intended target, resulting in the plane crashing into a field. “United 93” was made with the cooperation of the passengers’ families and is a tribute to their memory.

The events of September 11, 2001, forever changed the landscape of the world and the perception of air travel. “United 93” offers an intimate and poignant portrayal of one of the tragic moments of that fateful day.

The film captures the profound courage and selflessness displayed by the passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93. When they learned of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, they realized they were also part of a hijacking plot. Instead of succumbing to fear, they banded together and fought back, choosing to confront the terrorists and prevent the plane from being used as a weapon.

The true story of United Airlines Flight 93 is a testament to the indomitable spirit of ordinary individuals in the face of unimaginable circumstances. The passengers’ heroic actions on that day exemplify the best of humanity, serving as a reminder of the strength and resilience that can emerge in moments of crisis.

United 93 Official Trailer #1 - Paul Greengrass, David Alan Basche Movie (2006) HD


Airplane movies based on true stories deliver a captivating and thrilling viewing experience that combines the wonder of flight with the real-life experiences of individuals. This remarkable genre offers a unique blend of entertainment and inspiration that resonates with audiences worldwide.

From the extraordinary life of aviation pioneer Howard Hughes portrayed in “The Aviator” to the courageous actions of Chesley Sullenberger and the passengers of United Airlines Flight 93 in “Sully” and “United 93” respectively, these films portray the triumph of the human spirit in the face of adversity.

Whether you have a passion for aviation or simply enjoy gripping stories, these top 5 airplane movies are an absolute must-watch for movie enthusiasts. These cinematic gems transport audiences into the intense world of high-flying adventures, leaving them captivated from takeoff to landing.