Top 10 Aerial Movie Dogfights

Credits: Rebecca Brayton Akil Goin
Script written by Akil Goin. Fight or flight? Why not both?! In this video, WatchMojo.com counts down our picks for the top 10 aerial movie dogfights. For this list, we’re counting down those high-flying movie fights that include any aircrafts or spaceships engaged in close-quarters combat with one another. Whether it’s based on a real-life battle, or it’s the stuff of sci-fi fantasy, these aerial battles make for thrilling, edge-of-your-seat viewing that makes you understand the need for speed. Special thanks to our users wankertosseroath, Jason Dendy, samster_me and thebronywithakeyblad for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Transcript
Script written by Akil Goin.

Top 10 Aerial Movie Dogfights


Fight or flight? Why not both?! Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 aerial movie dogfights.

For this list, we’re counting down those high-flying movie fights that include any aircraft or spaceships engaged in close-quarters combat with one another.

#10: A.I. Gone Wild
“Stealth” (2005)

“Tinman” EDI is a renegade unmanned combat aviation vehicle piloted by artificial intelligence so sophisticated it has its own ego, moral code, and taste in music. And, like most movie A.I., EDI doesn’t value human life, so that causes problems. Here, one of the human pilots who’s experienced EDI’s limitations firsthand is forced to partner with him, so they can both survive their Russian airspace violation and so EDI’s technology won’t fall into the wrong hands. If the action and effects aren’t amazing enough, there’s plenty of drama adding tension to this airborne encounter.

#9: Attack of the Drones
“Oblivion” (2013)

In the not-so-distant future, a war between extra-terrestrials and man saw the planet become basically uninhabitable. Jack Harper is one of the few humans left on Earth, and he’s there to recover its remaining resources. His futuristic Bubble Ship gets to showcase its combat capabilities and weapons array in this extraordinary chase sequence, dipping and dodging through challenging terrain. With every detail of his craft serving a function, this ship is impressively practical and effective in aerial combat. Unfortunately for Jack, the drones have the same advantage.

#8: Nazi Takedown
“Red Tails” (2012)

The Tuskegee Airmen were a real-life group of African-American fighter pilots in WWII, and this film tells a fictionalized tale based on this brave group of soldiers, with some thrilling flight sequences punctuating the action. In one scene, hotshot pilot Joe “Lightning” Little takes out a German World War II aircraft with an ace maneuver that looks both impossible and impressive. Beyond the beautiful animation of the takedown, it’s Lightning’s ability to laugh in the face of danger that makes this scene the real airshow thrill it is.

#7: The SPECTRE of Pursuing Helicopters
“You Only Live Twice” (1967)

Cold War paranoia is at the heart of this movie, where both an American and a Soviet spacecraft go missing. And, for a ‘60s era, pre-CGI film, the aerial combat in this scene is spectacular, and the proof is in how difficult it was to film: it took 5 hours of filming, 85 takeoffs and a cameraman’s foot was severed. Bond’s plane, Little Nellie, is easy to underestimate for its size and design, but it’s a gyroplane with flamethrowers, missiles, rocket launchers, and aerial mines. These SPECTRE agents are in trouble.

#6: Seeing Red
“The Red Baron” (2008)

The WWI biopic of German pilot Manfred von Richthofen is a wonder to behold. It spares us any distracting trash talk and dialogue, focusing instead on realistic aviation skills and competitive combat techniques. In this British attack over Belgium, the open cockpits showcase the actor’s clear and necessary expressions. Above all, one thing’s made clear: aerial dogfights were just as wild and dangerous a century ago as they are today.

#5: A Family Affair
“Iron Eagle” (1986)

Rejected by the Air Force, young Doug Masters aims to prove them wrong and prove his own worth by rescuing his father from a death sentence in the Middle East after he’s caught trespassing. After the dangerous extraction, Colonel Masters backseat drives his son to help him take down a squadron of MiG fighter pilots during their escape. With 6-weeks-worth of filming and choreography, for authenticity’s sake, “Iron Eagle” transcends its status as a hotshot rookie movie that doubles as a father/son film to become an electrifying flying film.

#4: Keeping Up with the Joneses
“Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989)

And here’s another father-son duo who have to make it through a dogfight by working together. And, as we all know, one thing that makes the “Indiana Jones” series great is its comedic timing and wit, especially in urgent adrenaline-fuelled moments like these. As their stolen biplane is being chased and gunned at by faster and far more powerful Nazi monoplanes, the two Dr. Jones manage to hold their own. Henry Jones, Sr. even ensures a few light laughs through all the high-flying stress.

#3: Welcome to Earth
“Independence Day” (1996)

When malevolent aliens come to Earth, intent on destroying everything, humans take to the skies to fight back. It’s up to Will Smith’s Captain Steve Hiller to take down one space invader, and he uses the Grand Canyon as his battleground to do so. Hiller takes us all on a rocky ride, and by the end of it the alien is none too pleased. This scene is nothing without its very memorable and typically ‘90s one-liners. Of course, who can forget the film’s final dogfight, which is pretty epic too?

#2: Millennium Falcon vs. TIE-Fighters
“Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” (1977)

The Rebel Alliance is trying to take down the Galactic Empire and their space station, the Death Star. When Han, Chewbacca, Luke and Leia manage to escape the Death Star in the Millennium Falcon, several TIE fighter vessels make chase and waste no time attacking the ship. With the princess providing tactical support, Han and Luke get their fighter-pilot on to save their own asses. The hands-on desperation with the buttons and gears add tons of energy to a scene that’s already exciting and classic.

Before we launch our top pick, here are some honorable mentions:
- The Skies of Pandora
“Avatar” (2009)
- All Choked Up
“Tomorrow Never Dies” (1997)
- Supersonic Bogey
“Iron Man” (2008)
- Dead Zeppelin
“Flyboys” (2006)

#1: The Need for Speed
“Top Gun” (1986)

This iconic film’s final dogfight is number one for its combination of real piloting, pyrotechnics, special effects and relentless, fast-paced action sequences. Watching Maverick and Iceman take out enough Russian fighters to make the remaining fleet turn tail sends us soaring right alongside the boys for their adrenaline-fuelled victory. Director Tony Scott was fortunate to have the full endorsement and cooperation of the Navy for the shoot, and that realism shows in every meticulously crafted and choreographed frame of this scene.

Do you agree with our list? Which aerial dogfights did we miss? For more Top 10s every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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