FLYING’s Favorite Holiday Movies

Here’s what people who think about things that fly all day long will be watching this holiday.

[Credit: Shutterstock]

The holidays are upon us, which means it's the time of year to hunker down with friends and family—or by yourself in a cozy corner in blissful solitude—and binge watch some movies. What movies do folks who think about things that fly all day long like to watch when enjoying some downtime? 

Here's a run down of holiday favorites the staff of FLYING are looking forward to watching this year.

Die Hard (1988)

"It's the ultimate Christmas movie, a 'feel good' love story about commitment, sacrifice, and family. Kidding. It’s a really good action movie with a great American hero."

Craig Fuller, chief executive officer

Home Alone (1990)

"Technically the family flies to Paris and leaves Kevin at home."

Preston Holland, chief operating officer

"Best holiday movie, period. I don't think there is a single person in an airport that doesn't see someone running and immediately relate it to the film. Or, when you are late to a flight and running, you are subconsciously playing out the scene in your mind. Also, never put your boarding passes next to napkins at a dinner table with pizza and milk. You might accidentally throw one away after a cup of milk spills, mistake it for a napkin, and then not realize your child is missing at the gate."

Andy Welch, director of ad operations 

Home Alone 2: Lost In New York (1992)

"The Home Alone franchise brought so much delight to my family when the boys were in grade school, but this sequel is my favorite. We all could relate to the way young Kevin (Macauley Culkin) loses his family in crowded O'Hare Airport and winds up getting on the wrong flight— bound for New York—after following a guy who sort of looks like his father and is similarly dressed. It holds up well today."

Jonathan Welsh, senior travel writer

Christmas Crash (2009)

"Here's one many folks might have missed, but fans of Michael Madsen dating back to Reservoir Dogs can never get enough of him. He and Alexandra Paul play a couple on the edge of divorce when they wind up taking a pleasure flight in a very cool Cessna 180 on floats (or was that a 185?). The airplane suffers a failure and goes down in a lake. The romantic drama takes off."

Jonathan Welsh, senior travel writer

Christmas Takes Flight (2021) 

"From RomDram to RomCom: This under-the-radar flick actually has lots of themes and scenes for pilots and aviation fans, from airline operations to women in aviation and flying family legacies. We have all known or at least heard about the challenges that family-run aviation companies face. This is a sweet Hollywood slant on the topic."

 – Jonathan Welsh, senior travel writer

Hook (1991)

"Because flying like Peter Pan has always been my personal dream, and Christmas in London *is* magical.’’

Julie Boatman, Editor-in-Chief

The Rocketeer (1991)

"The Rocketeer tops my list of holiday movies because it reminds me of my father. Dad went west years ago, and I think of him every day. When the movie came out I was in the early stages of my flying career, and eager to share my adventures with my father who shared my interest in aviation and aviation history. The movie is set in 1938, when my father was a small boy who was already enamored with all things flying. We had great fun identifying the aircraft in the movie such as the Curtiss Jenny and the GeeBee. We both loved the mixing of real people such as Howard Hughes and fictional characters such as Cliff Secord to tell the story. We often watched the movie at family gatherings, stopping to identify the airplanes in the scenes.

For us, the star of the movie is the zeppelin. When my father was a little boy he was playing in a creek when the Hindenburg flew overhead. A man wearing a bluecoat with three gold stripes on the wrist and a white cap—presumably a member of the crew shouted down to my father, ‘How is the fishing?’ in heavily accented German. It was a life-changing event for Dad. Neither one of us liked the zeppelin ‘playing the heavy’ in the movie, but we did have enthusiastic debates as to how the great airship made it to Hollywood without attracting attention, as the winds of war were starting to churn."

Meg Godlewski, technical editor

The Aviator (2004)

"I know there are pilots who are critical of the movie for violating the laws of physics and flying, but I am not one of them. The 2004 film is rife with vintage aviation and it stars Leonardo DiCaprio, who, I maintain, is aesthetically pleasing enough to give him a pass on the technical details.  It was released around Christmas and I watched it with the friend I spent the holidays with. We both worked at an aviation magazine and had done a special issue on airplanes in the movies called ‘Lights, Camera, Airplane,’ and we'd learned a lot about Howard Hughes and his contributions to both the film and aerospace industry."

Meg Godlewski, technical editor

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (1964)

"Where would they be without Rudolph to light the way? Everyone needs a leader. Still love this and watching Frosty every year."

Roxanne Sweazey, senior business development manager

Love Actually (2003)

"Love Actually is absolutely on my annual holiday rotation each year, much to my husband's dismay. It's got a little bit of everything—a dancing prime minister, a kid in a lobster costume, heaps of unrequited love, a grieving widow trying to find his footing, peppy Christmas songs, and the kind of marital discord and subterfuge that gnaws a hole through your stomach. Just when you think you can't take anymore, the movie hits you with that scene at Heathrow Airport of families reuniting. It puts a lump right in your throat. And isn't the journey back home to a safe landing what it's all about? This year, I'll be suggesting we pair this movie with a ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ chaser as an emotional palate cleanse."

Kimberly Johnson, managing editor

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