13 Of The Best Songs About Flying And Planes

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 13 of the best songs about flying. Enjoy reading!

1. “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.

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. “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.

4. “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.

5. “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 other people. 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.

6. “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, it is one thing to take a leap of faith and teach yourself to fly into the unknown. However, as the song suggests, what goes up must eventually come down. It’s coming down that is the hardest part.

7. “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.

8. “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.

9. “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.

10. “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. 

11. “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.

12. “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.

13. “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.

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, seeking 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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Written by Dan Farrant
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. Since then, he's been working to make music theory easy for over 1 million students in over 80 countries around the world.