23 Of The Best Songs About Flying And Planes

Written by Dan Farrant
Last updated

How exciting can it be to fly? To soar in the sky and spread your wings and feel the wind on your face. We can only wish we have this ability like birds do.

But since we cannot fly in the literal sense, let’s talk about it metaphorically. Flying can symbolically refer to leaving a relationship or returning to someone you love. It can represent new beginnings. Flying can also be a reference to chasing your dreams.

Not surprisingly, musicians have come up with great songs about flying. So we have searched far and wide to give you a compilation of these tracks. Here are 23 of the best songs about flying. Enjoy reading!

1. “The Zephyr Song” By Red Hot Chili Peppers

Opening our list is Red Hot Chili Peppers‘ “The Zephyr Song.” It was released in 2002 from their album By the Way and talks about the power of human connection.

Zephyr is actually a gentle breeze. So when the singer invites his love interest to “fly away on my zephyr,” he’s asking her to escape with him. The weather is perfect for flying somewhere where they can be together.

The song is also about pursuing happiness. The singer courts a girl and invites her to feel that euphoria with him.

2. “Fly Me To The Moon” By Frank Sinatra

One of the timeless classic songs, “Fly Me to the Moon” had been covered by more than 100 different artists. However, Frank Sinatra’s version is considered the gold standard. Sinatra joined forces with Quincy Jones to make the song more upbeat, a swinging tune accompanied by the legendary Count Basie.

Now let’s look at the lyrics. Surely, you can relate to the feeling of being over the moon when you are deeply in love. That’s what the song is all about. The singer wants his lover to know what their togetherness does to him.

The singer also pleads for his lover to be true to him as he is to her. There is no one else he wants.

3. “Come Fly With Me” By Frank Sinatra

The legendary Frank Sinatra appears on our list for the second time with “Come Fly with Me.” The single was released in 1958, in time for the dawn of commercial jet travel.

In the lyrics, the singer invites his love interest to fly with him to exotic places. The weather is just perfect, and she only needs to agree so he can “whip those birds” and go places.

He plans to take her to wonderful destinations such as Bombay, Peru, and Acapulco Bay. And when they’re in the air, he’ll hold her close to him and just enjoy their being together.

4. “Like A Bird” By Nelly Furtado

Up next, we have Nelly Furtado‘s “Like a Bird.” The song was released more than 20 years ago as of writing. But for a lot of people who grew up around this time, this song still remains familiar.

When we say “like a bird,” freedom easily comes to mind. In the song, the singer cannot reassure her lover that she’ll settle down. She may love him, but she is lost between her love for him and her desire for freedom.

She may stay for a while, but there will always come a time that she will fly away, or leave. Because that’s what a bird always does. She’s still looking for where she truly belongs.

5. “Leaving On A Jet Plane” By John Denver

This is one of those classic songs about flying that stirs deep emotions. John Denver recorded “Leaving on a Jetplane” in 1969 for his debut studio album, Rhymes & Reasons.

Figuratively, the song is about leaving someone you love, perhaps temporarily. The symbols in the song include bags by the door, a taxi waiting, and not wanting to wake up your loved one to say goodbye.

Though there is a promise of return, leaving can bring up sadness and desperation. You just hope your loved one is still there when you return.

6. “Wind Beneath My Wings” By Bette Midler

Get ready for our next song on the list, as this one by Bette Midler is a tearjerker. Originally conceived as a love song, “Wind Beneath My Wings” became universal. Its message can be applied to all kinds of relationships.

“Wind Beneath My Wings” talks about one’s feelings when supporting others. It also expresses one’s gratitude when receiving that support.

It’s easy to relate to the beautiful message of this song. Surely, there’s someone in your life who has been behind you through ups and downs. Their unending love and support enable you to go through difficulties. What’s more, you can achieve great things because of their help.

Read next: Our list of songs about wind.

7. “Learning To Fly” By Pink Floyd

British supergroup Pink Floyd recorded a song with the same title as the rock band Tom Petty’s five years earlier in 1986. The former’s version of “Learning To Fly” has quite a different meaning.

Pink Floyd’s vocalist David Gilmour wrote the song while taking flying lessons. He would be in the air in the mornings before going to the studio in the afternoon. The song could be taken literally and includes literal references to the propellers, flaps, and engine gauges.

“Learning to Fly” is also symbolic of Gilmour taking over as Pink Floyd’s leader upon Roger Waters’ departure, making the band feel like they were learning to fly again.

8. “Learn To Fly” By Foo Fighters

Interestingly, Foo Fighters‘ “Learn to Fly” is as literal as you can take it. The band’s lead singer, Dave Grohl, shared that at that time, he wanted to become a pilot, so he wrote a song about it.

But what’s beautiful about a song is that people look at it differently because it means something to them. They can attach a meaning to what the words say. In “Learn to Fly,” one can interpret the meaning as finding your inspiration, or something that makes you feel alive.

Maybe you’ve experienced a breakup, or missing someone. You find yourself at a point when you don’t know what to do. Listen to this song and it might give you the inspiration you need.

9. “Jet Airliner” By Steve Miller Band

American rock band Steve Miller Band truly produced timeless songs. They popularized “Jet Airliner” in 1977 from their Book of Dreams album.

The song appears to be about moving from one phase to another. The singer finds himself leaving home, being carried by a jet airliner to somewhere. Whether it’s his first time leaving or not, it still brings him sadness.

He hates the idea of saying goodbye to all the people who have become a part of his life. Friends, and people he trusted. But he also recognizes that it’s necessary because he needs to make a life for himself.

10. “Learning To Fly” By Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Sometimes a song about flying does not have to involve an airplane. Flying as a metaphor for leaving the nest and spreading your wings for the first time is conveyed in Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers‘ “Learning To Fly.”

The single was from the album Into the Great Wide Open released in 1991. It spent six weeks at #1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart.

According to the lyrics, taking a leap of faith and teaching yourself to fly into the unknown is one thing. However, as the song suggests, what goes up must eventually come down. It’s coming down that is the hardest part.

11. “Free Bird” By Lynyrd Skynyrd

In many ways, the message of Lynyrd Skynyrd‘s “Free Bird” is similar to Nelly Furtado’s “Like A Bird.” “Bird” is synonymous with freedom. In the song, it refers to the singer’s desire to be free.

We find from the lyrics that he is saying goodbye to someone, presumably a lover. He is a free spirit that cannot stay in the same place for long. He desires to travel because there are “too many places I’ve got to see.”

He feels like he’s a bird that must fly away. It’s something that his lover cannot change. And if he forces himself to stay with her, it could only worsen their relationship.

12. “Fly Away” By Lenny Kravitz

For the song “Fly Away,” Lenny Kravitz won a Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Performance. It was released on his 1999 album, 5, and reached #1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart.

In the song, Kravitz imagines life as a dragonfly. It says that you can fly above the trees, over the seas, and anywhere you want to go. It is a song where the spirit can fly, even into space.

Whereas many songs about flying seem to be about leaving a relationship, here it is more of a love song. Kravitz invites his lover to fly away together, their spirits becoming one.

13. “Fly Like An Eagle” By Steve Miller Band

If you want a song that captures the essence of flying, check out Steve Miller Band‘s 1977 megahit, “Fly Like an Eagle.” From the title alone, it sounds like something with a deep and powerful meaning.

And it does. You can look at the message as finding freedom from the daily challenges of living through compassion. The lyrics have notable lines such as “Feed the babies,” “Shoe the children,” and “House the people.” Because there is joy in reaching out to people less fortunate than us.

The song was released on Steve Miller Band’s ninth studio album of the same name. It reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and sold over a million copies.

14. “Given To Fly” By Pearl Jam

Another song that equates “flying” to freedom is Pearl Jam‘s “Given to Fly.” This song became the most popular on their 1998 album, Yield. It peaked at #21 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The song starts with a man who feels suffocated and escapes to the ocean. The singer describes the waves, which often start calm but eventually intensify. A wave crashes to the shore and “delivered him wings,” which could mean he surfed.

Being there on the sea, above the waves, gives him freedom as he raises his arms. He feels like he’s flying.

15. “Drunk On A Plane” By Dierks Bentley

Who says you can’t “Get Drunk on a Plane?” We’d probably all do, especially if we’re in the same boat as the guy in Dierks Bentley‘s country song.

In the lyrics, the man finds himself flying to Cancun for a two-week honeymoon. He says there is no refund for the tickets, so he might as well spend the vacation. By himself.

Turns out his bride has stood him up at the altar on their wedding day. And so he buys drinks for the other plane passengers and starts a “Mardi Gras up in the clouds.” If drinking will drown out the pain, then he’ll get intoxicated.

16. “Up, Up And Away” By The 5th Dimension

Another way to fly is to float in a hot air balloon into the sky. The 5th Dimension took their hot air balloon to the top of the charts with “Up, Up and Away” in 1967.

The lyrics are typical of sunshine pop. Everything is beautiful, love is in the air, and you can fly, chasing your dreams through the sky.

The song topped the charts in Canada and Australia and hit #7 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also won six Grammy Awards, including Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and Best Performance by a Vocal Group.

17. “Watching Airplanes” By Gary Allan

If Dierks Bentley’s “Getting Drunk on a Plane” made you laugh, Gary Allan‘s “Watching Airplanes” will make you cry. This country song tackles sadness when someone you love leaves.

From the lyrics, we find the singer hanging out near the airport. He recollects the day his lover said goodbye to him. Now he sits on the hood of his car “watching airplanes take off and fly.”

He’s wondering which plane carries her and why their love ended. Obviously, their breakup hurt him, as he entertains the idea of the woman looking out of the plane and seeing him chasing her. But the reality is that she could be “a million miles away” from him.

18. “Fly By Night” By Rush

Part of the magic of flying is exploring faraway places you have never been to. It can be an intimidating challenge, but the reward can be a brand new direction in life. That is what Rush‘s “Fly By Night” is all about.

The song was inspired when the band’s drummer, Neil Peart, took his first trip away from home and flew to England. He was just 18 then, but it was time for him to change his life and begin a new chapter.

Another way to look at the song’s meaning is that it encourages you to step away from your comfort zone. It is scary, and there’s an element of uncertainty. But you know it’s going to do you good to explore what’s out there on your own. 

19. “Gonna Fly Now” By Bill Conti

Some songs are forever linked to the soundtrack of a movie. Perhaps no better example is Bill Conti’s “Gonna Fly Now,” the theme from Rocky.

The short lyrics may be different from other songs out there. But the message is powerful: it’s like a phoenix rising from the ashes. If you’ve seen the Rocky movie, you know what it means. It means getting the right mindset and preparing yourself for your next battles.

And it doesn’t matter if your adversary is someone or something bigger than you. You keep going to get that victory.

20. “Amelia” By Joni Mitchell

If you are familiar with Amelia Earheart, then she’s probably the first that comes to mind when you hear the title of this next song. When you listen to the lyrics, you might think it’s as simple as it goes, but there’s a lot that goes on in it.

Singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell says that she saw herself in Earheart while writing the song. However, “Amelia” is not begging for someone’s love. The singer talks about being heartbroken and driving by herself when she spots planes overhead.

The planes symbolize freedom and the fate of Amelia Earheart. Each verse of the song ends with the same line, “Amelia, it was just a false alarm.” According to Mitchell, a false alarm is the end of a relationship.

21. “Turbulence” By Bowling For Soup

Have you traveled by airplane and experienced a bumpy flight? Then you know what turbulence is like. As alternative rock band Bowling for Soup points out, you can experience “Turbulence” in everyday life.

From their 2011 album, Fishin’ For Woos, the song is a heartfelt ballad from the pop-punk band. It says that when strangers fly on an airplane together, they have the same destination but go off in all directions.

The music video for “Turbulence” further cements the song’s message. It shows people boarding an airplane and traveling through life at various stages of their lives. We all experience stormy weather at some point and just need to hang on until we find blue skies once again.

22. “Fly With Me” Jonas Brothers

It hurts when you know that there is no forever for you and the person you love. “Fly with Me” by Jonas Brothers says so.

Here, the singer talks about a lot of “ifs” that surround the idea of their being together forever. He mentions Peter Pan and Wendy, who are far apart from each other but “turned out fine.”

The singer badly wants to be with his lover, inviting her to “fly with me.” And despite knowing they can’t be together for a long time, he settles for the here and now. He wants to live in the moment, to grab the chance to be with her even if they can’t be together in the future.

23. “Airplane” By Plain White T’s

Finally, we have “Airplanes” from the American rock band Plain White T’s. The song was released in 2010 as part of their album Wonders of the Younger. As with most of the songs on our list, the plane here symbolizes one’s desire to get away.

In the lyrics, the singer wishes for an airplane to put him to sleep and take him to his dreamland. He imagines it as a place where he flies in the sky and “where mistakes of my past are erased.”

We can tell he’s longing for a place where he can start anew. “A better place” than where he is at the moment. He asks the airplane to take him there without delay.

Summing Up Our List Of Flying Songs

Flying, in the figurative sense of the word, is a liberating experience. It aids us to find love, seek new adventures, and perhaps find ourselves again.

Flying also represents our search for freedom, maybe from heartaches or things that hold us down. Or the freedom to be the best versions of ourselves.

However you look at it, we hope you found something from the list above. Share them with friends. Or save them to a playlist so you have something to go back to when you’re in the mood to “fly.”

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Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.