Ranked: The 20 greatest movie pilots you'd want flying your plane
Next time you hear the voice of your captain speaking, imagine how much more fun your flight'd be if it were one of these legends of the big screen
20. Capt. "Wild" Bill Kelso (John Belushi): 1941Your pilot for Spirit flight 143 from Indianapolis to Houston is a crazed WWII ace -- and he can hear you muttering "This is the last time I fly a budget carrier"
19. Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington): FlightSure, Denzel's demons created the trouble he got himself into, but dude flew that jetliner UPSIDE DOWN, and you know you want your pilot to be able to do that
18. Lt. Topper Harley (Charlie Sheen): Hot ShotsCharlie Sheen playing Maverick if Maverick were Charlie Sheen. How can you go wrong
17. Russell Casse (Randy Quaid): Independence DayForget Will Smith's Capt. Steven Hiller -- the real hero of ID and, in turn, any jetliner you'll ever ride on, is a war-hero-come-drunk-come-war-hero like Randy Quaid's character
16. Lt. Chris Burnett (Owen Wilson): Behind Enemy LinesMinus points for spending much of the film grounded, uh, behind enemy lines. But endless extra points awarded to having an ex-Air Force ace with combat experience AND the devil-may-care personality of Owen Wilson piloting your next flight to Florida
15. Lt. Ted "Iceman" Kazansky (Val Kilmer): Top GunIceman would be way further up this list had he not become a goddam chicken in the final dog fight before Mav saved his ass. But, still, he's got a solid skillset and chews gum with the steely Nordic confidence of a KLM captain
14. Patrick O'Malley (Tom Selleck): High Road to ChinaEven though Patrick O'Malley's a former WWI bi-planer looking to make a buck, he's got a hidden heart of gold. Also, we're pretty sure the schema of what Tom Selleck was destined to be in life looks like this: 1) Magnum PI 2) regular policeman 3) commercial airline pilot
13. Capt. Courtney (Errol Flynn): The Dawn PatrolForget everything you know about 1938 WWI dogfighting pic The Dawn Patrol (alright, that's probably "nothing" anyways). Just know that not only is Capt. Courtney as skilled a dogfighter as he is debonaire, but that Errol Flynn's pencil stash would go perfectly with the prim lines of a tailored British Airways uniform.
12. Billy Covington (Robert Downey, Jr.) and Gene Ryack (Mel Gibson): Air AmericaTake a piloting duo so fun-loving they made flying super-dangerous cargo plane/ chopper missions for the CIA in Vietnam look like a gas, translate that ability to making potentially uneasy passengers feel like flights around the Middle East are NBD, and you've got an Emirates piloting team for the ages
11. Gen. Frank Savage (Gregory Peck): Twelve O'Clock HighAlright, so we don't know all that much about Gen. Frank Savage, other than he's a WWII bomber pilot played by Gregory Peck, but, sh*#, if Peck's half as good at piloting as he was at being a lawyer/ dad in To Kill A Mockingbird, how can he not be boss
10. Waldo Pepper (Robert Redford): The Great Waldo PepperNot only was Waldo Pepper one helluva barnstormer, he's played by Robert Redford. And if you don't think it would be goddamn transcendent to hear the voice of United Airlines announce that "We're just passing over the Grand Canyon on our left and should be making the final approach to Sky Harbor in 25 minutes", then you, sir, have no soul
9. Frank Towns (Dennis Quaid and Jimmy Stewart): Flight of the PhoenixSure, Jimmy Stewart in the original and Dennis Quaid in the '04 version both crash their cargo planes into the desert, killing numerous passengers. But they also build new airplanes, in the desert, using only what they had on board their fated flights, and use them to fly to safety. Can the pilot of your America West from Salt Lake City to Sacramento do that
8. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill): Star WarsDude could pilot a gall-derned X-Wing like a champ -- the rest is just semantics
7. Cliff Secord (Billy Campbell): The RocketeerAn aw-shucks, gentlemanly, barn-storming airplane mechanic who also becomes a Nazi-fighting superhero when he gets a rocket pack on his back doesn't just make a perfect commercial pilot -- he eliminates the need for an air marshall on his flights
6. Ted Striker (Robert Hays): Airplane!When Clarence Oveur (Peter Graves) and co-pilot Roger Murdock (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) succumb to food poisoning, who is it that shakes off the trauma of his fighter pilot past, as well as a rather serious "drinking problem", to successfully guide a jetliner to Chicago? Ted mother-loving Striker, that's who. Any airline could use a Ted Striker
5. Col. Charles "Chappy" Sinclair (Louis Gossett, Jr.): Iron EagleSure Doug "Jason Gedrick" Masters gets all the glory for rescuing his soon-to-be executed father Col. Ted Masters, but without crusty Air Force vet Chappy's cunning plan and selflessness, Gedrick would've only been known for his roll as Danny Rooney on TV's EZ Streets. Logic be damned! After all that, Chappy deserves to be piloting Aloha Air roundtrips from LAX to HNL, mai tai in hand
4. Lt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (Tom Cruise): Top GunWho would you want piloting your Aeroflot flight to Moscow, should you encounter some rogue MiGs? Huh? Iceman? Hahahahaha.
3. Han Solo (Harrison Ford): Star WarsAssuming there's a commercial plane roomy enough to hold Chewbacca as #2, Han's got all the tools of a pro pilot: he knows how to navigate an over-sized, outdated vessel through an asteroid field; he's brash towards women; and, while he cares more about himself than anyone else, he was one of the foremost human smugglers in the galaxy and is, thus, totally used to flying with unruly passengers
2. Capt. Dennis Dearborn (Matthew Modine): Memphis BelleYou think a dude who successfully piloted a B-17 Bomber safely through all 25 of its missions (when most didn't survive five) can't handle some mild turbulence
1. Capt. Jim Gordon (John Wayne): Flying TigersJohn Wayne. As a commercial airline pilot. It does not get better, partner.