The Five Best Plane Crashes In Cinema

There are few things in life as scary as the prospect of being in a plane crash. Not even so much the crash itself, as the idea of sitting there, knowing it is about to happen. Tucking your head in between your legs as you begin to ready for impact. The sounds of the people around you, whispering prayers to themselves in the off chance that the giant hand of some God will reach through the clouds and pluck them out of the plane right before it hits.

And there is only one way to experience these horrors without actually having to experience these horrors, that is movies. Certain movies have made plane crashes as major plot points in their stories, and therefore, had to make them major moments in their films. A truly good plane crash scene will feel like you are in the plane with the people, just as much at the mercy of fate as they are. Here are five movie plane crashes that had me clawing at the arm rest, thinking I was about to die. Yes, I know, I have problems.

The Grey

I know this movie is recent, so I won’t say too much (Spoiler Alert Liam Neeson beats up some wolves) but I really thought the plane crash scene in this movie was amazing. Well, actually, I loved the whole film, and my appreciation for both it and Liam is something that is pretty apparent to most who know me. But what makes this particular plane crash so spectacular is it is not filmed like a normal plane crash in the sense that we don’t focus on the victims and the horrible ways in which they die during a plane crash (though we do see some of that.

No, instead we focus on Liam Neeson, prepping for the plane crash, survivalist style, while everyone panics and readies for the death with all the composure of a 3 year old readying to get a blood test.

Only a Neeson can remain this well composed during a moment like this.

And it follows the plane crash, from the first indication that something may be wrong, to the last second when Liam Nesson skids to a stop on his homemade seat-sled.

Also, the thing that drove this scene home was when they find the guy, struggling in his seat, dying, after the crash, and LIam helps usher him to death calmly. That scene utterly floored me. Oh, and then the survivors go on to fight a bunch of wolves, so this movie is awesome. That is all I have to say about that. While I do think this movie may have ripped off the movie The Edge, this film had the superior crash scene, so it wins. But in The Edge they fight a bear, so The Edge kind of wins, too.

Alright, next:

Final Destination (1 and 5)

So I know these movies have become sort of stupid over time. But you have to admit, when this movie dropped, the premise was wonderfully original and the deaths were top notch. While I approached this movie with hesitation, initially, because the idea seemed silly, it was while I was sitting there in the theater and the plane crash happened that I immediately became a fan.

Now for those who don’t know, I won’t ruin why Final Destination 1 and 5 are both listed here.

Just kidding, I will. There will be spoilers from here on in for Final Destination 5, so go to the next number on the list if you have not seen it yet.

So for those who know, Final Destination 5 ENDS with the plane crash from the beginning of Final Destination. Yes, I have to admit, sitting through a prequel and not knowing it is a prequel until the very end of the film was actually kind of an original move. And the way they worked the two plane crashes from two movies into one was quite cool, too.

Check it out:

Yay, two for one plane crash miles on my credit card this month.

I think what makes this particular crash so tough to watch was the slow burn buildup you get. You think something is wrong. Then everything is fine. Then BAM, people are being sucked out of the side of a plane and being lit on fire.

Death can be a real ass, sometimes, if he doesn’t get his way.


Hey, remember that time that Uruguayan rugby team crashed their plane in the mountains and the survivors of the crash had to eat the frozen ass meat of the people who died? Remember how they made it into a movie? And remember how f*cking scary the plane crash in that movie was?

I do. I remember it all, vividly, thanks to Hollywood.

THAT is how scary the scene was. And they didn’t even zombie out yet.

That single moment when the mountains come in to view, and everyone on the plane knows they are screwed. And then the plane LITERALLY breaks in half when it hits, and you can see half of the people, still attached to their chairs, falling out of the back of the plane, screaming. You can see the people on the plane, seeing this going on around them. You can almost FEEL the horror when you watch this scene.

And it is all made even worse by the fact that we know that even the survivors had the worst yet to come. I think if I got to vote on whether I died in a plane crash, or had to stay alive and eat my dead friends ass-meat, I would go with the die in the plane crash option.

In some ways, this one is the roughest one on the list because it is based in reality.


A great movie that not enough of you guys saw, and the contender for the crash scene on this list that will most likely make you cry. More than the crash itself, this scene deals first hand with the acceptance of death in a moment like that.

It builds and builds, whereas most plane crash scenes are delegated to two or three minutes, you have an almost seven minute “crash scene” here, and more than the crash, it focus’ on the lives of those about to crash. It is an extremly pwerful moment in cinema, and if you have not seen this entire film, I do not recommend watching this scene, but here it is:

Jeff Bridges can do no wrong. This movie further proves that in spades.

He is much like an angel (of death?) here in the sense that he brings as many people peace here that he can in these final moments. And he walks through it with a look of true acceptance on his face, and certainty, but not fear. It really is amazing to watch.

But to tell you more would ruin this amazing movie. And, despite what you may think, I did not ruin it by posting here. There is much not yet revealed here that you will find joy in doscovering on your own, especially if you admire the work of Jeff Bridges, and who doesn’t?

Nazis. That’s who.

That joke never gets old. Or should I ask: That joke never gets old?


As if the prospect of a regular plane crash isn’t bad enough,  add crashing into the ocean into the mix, and I weep a little just thinking about it. So if the impact doesn’t kill you straight away, then you will drown while strapped in your seat. Awesome.

Truth be told. Tom Hanks makes anything better. He made AIDS better in Forrest Gump. He made AIDS better in Philadelphia. Wait a second, what is up with his pro AIDS agenda? Ah, screw it, he even makes plane crashes better. And this movie proved that.

Well, this is not so much a movie, as much as it is a one man play. But for a one man play, it has the best plane crash ever.

He hadn’t found love with Wilson yet, so it was a lonely crash.

Plus, the secret nerd reason I am putting this on the list is, when he comes to the surface, and the plane is on fire all around him, floating on the black water, it reminds me of the plane crash from the intro of Bioshock. How dope was that.

(Editor: Stay focused, Remy) Alright, sorry.

Honorable Mentions:

Fight Club: “Life Insurance pays off triple if you die on a business trip.” This one is short, but sweet.

The Edge: What happens when a pack of geese fly into a bi-plane? All parties lose. And then they fight a bear. Me thinks The Grey is pretty much this movie, with wolves instead of a bear. Watch it, you’ll agree.

Knowing: Alright, not so much for the plane crash, but Nice Cage literally yelling at a guy who is on fire, running from the crash site.

Hahahaha, Oh CAGE. you told THAT guy! And way to help him, too!

Die Hard 2: Not really, but I will put it to appease you non existent Bruce Willis groupies.

Con Air: Crash on the strip in Vegas? Yeah, not bad for pure machismo.

And finally, just for good measure, on of the best plane crashes ever,

from a video game.

What does it say about the state of Hollywood when the best plane crash scene on the list is from a video game?


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  1. Totally agree with the Final Destination crashes. Amazing! Plus Fight Club. I kept waiting to see it on the list, so I’m glad you put it under “Honorable Mentions.”

    Great list! 😀

  2. Fight Club was the first one to come to mind. Albeit it’s not visually impressive or anything it’s a very imprinting scene, and every time I board a plane I start thinking about it and all the implications.

  3. The crash scene in Castaway was traumatizing. I’m so afraid of crashing into the ocean it’s not even funny. And when that guy stands up to try and calm Tom Hanks down and ends up cracking the top of his head open? Jesus.

  4. @Kas, thank you very much!
    @Wevs, I agree, That image of the plane headlight coming towards the window is imprinted on my mind.
    @Sara, Water takes it to a whole new level for me, too. Drowning in a huge hunk of metal is a truly terrifying concept to try and grasp.
    @Alvaro, I wish that was the actual movie description of Flight of the Phoenix. Sara C gets the point for knowing that.

  5. “Fight Club: “Life Insurance pays off triple if you die on a business trip.” This one is short, but sweet.”

    I was going to mention this, but you are on top of the game!

  6. Shame we had to limit this to movies only as the crash in the pilot episode of “Lost” was pretty traumatic too. I remember seeing it sometime before actually airing on TV and having to warn my step-mom whom has a pretty big fear of flying. Of course if I was on a plane where the runway had to be “gelled up” in case of the plane sliding in due to stuck landing gear I might feel the same way… But um FOCUS! FOCUS! yes the crash in the Lost pilot still deserves an honorable mention, if not for the scene of people being pulled from the plane but also the beach scenes right after.

  7. I saw Cast Away on an international flight. Great movie. Not sure it was the most suited entertainment for a flight over the Pacific though.

  8. The crash in “Con Air” is pretty good, special effects-wise, but it’s known as The Magical Crash to people who live in Las Vegas, for its complete disregard of geography & physics:
    It starts with the plane cartwheeling due SOUTH down the middle of The Strip; then, inexplicably, it makes a sudden 90-degree left turn to go smash into the big guitar sign on the Hard Rock Casino, which is 1 Mile EAST of the Strip; then, most amazing of all, it miraculously “gains back” enough of its lost momentum to fly another 4 or 5 miles back NORTH (the direction it started from) to finally slide to a stop at the end of the Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas!

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