The 10 Best Warplane Films, According to Real Aviation Buffs (No Top Gun, Thank You)

With the possible exceptions of horses and ships, no other non-speaking entity has starred in so many motion pictures as the airplane. And we love airplanes. We love them so much we've probably seen every last airplane movie worth watching, and even more that weren't.

Of course, true aviation geeks watch these pictures with the hyperaware eye of a buff. Yelling "Gotcha!" every time a "Soviet MiG" is in fact a common old American F-84F Thunderjet with sinister red stars slapped on the wings (As in the Howard Hughes/John Wayne Cold War laugher Jet Pilot).

We were ruminating on our favorite films about airplanes and the lives (and, naturally, loves) of those who fly them. Hollywood rarely ever gets it right enough for the buffs, but sometimes they get pretty close. Here are ten.

Our criteria leaned toward the exciting use of airplanes. As for cinema art, well, some of these films are bloody awful. So note that Dr. Strangelove is not on the list. Great as it is, it stars people, not the airplanes. Top Gun also gets passed over. Every time we want to get a good glimpse of F-14 Tomcats, Tom Cruise's head gets in the way. When we want to hear the roar of the engines, he opens his mouth. Top Gun will never get on our list, thank you.

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Mel Sharkskin