23 Songs About Flying

Songs about flying may have various meanings, including airplanes, physically growing wings and flying, drugs or metaphors.

Whether you want a playlist for your next flight or to drift into music that makes you feel weightless, there are plenty of songs about flying.

1 “Aeroplane” by Red Hot Chili Peppers

  • Genre: Alternative/Indie
  • Song year: 1996
  • Album: One Hot Minute

“Aeroplane” is a song based on the 1930s song “Jesus Is My Aeroplane” by Mother McCollum. Many Red Hot Chili Peppers fans have tried to figure out the song’s meaning.

Some believe that it’s a song about drugs, while others think it is a reference to their music careers.

In the music video, children are singing the tune. Clara, the bass player, Flea’s daughter, is toward the left of the other kids in her class.

2 “How it Feels to Fly” by Alicia Keys

  • Genre: R&B/Soul
  • Song year: 2009
  • Album: The Element of Freedom

“How it Feels to Fly” isn’t one of Alicia Keys’ biggest hits, though it’s a song worth listening to. In the lyrics, Keys shares the feelings of wanting to fly but being nervous about doing so.

Rather than a song about a jet or airplane, the song refers to what it would feel like to be able to fly physically. If humans could suddenly fly, it would be exhilarating and terrifying all at once.

This somewhat contradicting feeling of excitement mixed with fear can be a metaphor for a lot of areas in our lives.

Ultimately, it’s a song about risk, feeling like you’re ready to do something while also being anxious to take action.

3 “Free Bird” by Lynard Skynard

  • Genre: Rock
  • Song year: 1973
  • Album: Lynard Skynard (Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd)

This nine-minute ’73 song was the final track on Lynard Skynard’s first album and had one of the most well-known guitar solos of all time.

The first five or so minutes of the song include emotional lyrics expressing the mixed feelings that come from freedom.

In the song, a man leaves a woman because he’s not ready to commit himself yet. He doesn’t want to hurt her, but there are things he wants to do before settling down.

It continues without lyrics once the song is about halfway over for about four more minutes.

4 “Leaving on a Jet Plane” by John Denver/Peter, Paul, and Mary

  • Genre: Country/Folk
  • Song year: 1969
  • Album: John Denver Sings

Before John Denver’s solo career, he wrote “Leaving on a Jet Plane” when he was a member of The Chad Mitchell Trio.

He wrote the lyrics during a layover at Washington airport in the 60s.

This song conjures up imagery of having bags packed, walking out the door to head to the airport, and thinking about leaving behind a particular person.

Denver stated that the song is more about longing to have someone to love rather than feeling that way about someone.

5 “Space Oddity” by David Bowie

  • Genre: Alternative/Indie/Rock
  • Song year: 1969
  • Album: David Bowie (commonly known as Space Oddity)

This popular David Bowie song came out in ’69, the same year Neil Armstrong was the first man to step foot on the moon.

Because of the timing, many listeners believed that this historical event inspired the song. Some also believe that some of the lyrics seem like metaphors for doing drugs and overdosing.

However, David Bowie stated that he gained inspiration from a science-fiction movie titled “2001: A Space Odyssey,” a film he’d watched multiple times.

6 “Flying High Again” by Ozzy Osbourne

  • Genre: Rock
  • Song year: 1981
  • Album: Diary of a Madman

Unsurprisingly, “Flying High Again” is a metaphor for drug use. Prior to Ozzy’s sobriety, he was known as someone who regularly used.

Most of the lyrics were written by Bob Daisley, who was inspired after a discussion he had with a man who didn’t partake in drugs.

Ozzy stated that he’d write many songs about substances like cocaine when he had his drug addiction.

Although he’s sober now, he isn’t ashamed of his past or the songs he’d written during that time of his life. It’s a part of his story, so why not include it?

7 “747 (Strangers in the Night)” by Saxon

  • Genre:  Alternative Rock
  • Song year: 1980
  • Album: Wheels Of Steel

In 1965, there was a 13-hour blackout that affected electricity supplies to those living in parts of Canada and Northeastern America.

Citizens’ lights were out, but airport runway lights stopped working. Although multiple planes were already in the sky, they’d need to be rerouted to a new location.

Once Biff Byford saw the documentary “The Trigger Effect” about the Great Northeast Blackout, he felt inspired to write a song about its events.

8 “Learning to Fly” by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

  • Genre: Country/Rock
  • Song year: 1991
  • Album: The Great Wide Open

While at first listen, it may seem as if this song is another metaphor for drugs; the lyrics are literal.

Petty saw a pilot doing an interview discussing how the challenge wasn’t learning to fly; the tricky part was coming down.

Though it’s a simple song with a basis of just four chords, it became a wildly popular tune.

Pink Floyd also wrote a song with the same title in 1987, which was also inspired by what it’s like to take flying lessons.

9 “Drunk on a Plane” by Dierks Bentley

  • Genre: Country
  • Song year: 2014
  • Album: Riser

“Drunk on a Plane” lyrics share the story of a man who gets stood up at the altar. Despite his heartbreak, he decides to hop on a plane to enjoy a solo Cancun vacation.

Lyricist Josh Kear had the title in his mind, and Bentley loved the idea. Inspiration struck the men as they ran through different scenarios in their minds.

They knew it would be a funny song that he could play to audiences who hadn’t heard it before but would still enjoy it.

Additionally, Dierks Bentley is a licensed pilot, so he enjoyed writing a song that coincided with his love of planes. However, he stated that he doesn’t drink while piloting.

10 “Learn to Fly” by Foo Fighters

  • Genre: Alternative/Indie
  • Song year: 1999
  • Album: There Is Nothing Left to Lose

“Learn to Fly” by Foo Fighters would hit #19 on the Billboard Hot 100 list. Dave Grohl revealed that it’s one of his least favorite songs on that album despite its massive success.

Like many other artists on our list, Grohl wrote this song because he wanted to learn to fly a plane, which he’d go on to do.

Despite the simple meaning behind the song, many Foo Fighter fans find deeper meaning in the lyrics.

11 “Paper Planes” by M.I.A.

  • Genre: Alternative/Indie
  • Song year: 2007
  • Album: Kala

Within the lyrics of “Paper Planes,” M.I.A. (Mathangi Arulpragasam) mimics the illegal immigrant stereotype. She bases the song on her own experience entering America.

She stated that most people believe that immigrants don’t contribute to society and leach off others. She uses sound effects in conjunction with her lyrics to relay this misconception.

12 “Learn to Fly” by Surfaces ft. Elton John

  • Genre: Pop/Hip-Hop/Reggae/Jazz
  • Song year: 2020
  • Album: The Lockdown Sessions

Here we have another song titled “Learn to Fly,” though this one is a metaphor rather than aviation.

Surfaces wanted to create an encouraging song during the pandemic where he motivates fans to keep their head up, not worry, and trust that it’ll be okay.

The band worked on this tune before the COVID-19 pandemic, though it became more relevant during lockdowns.

Once Surfaces completed the demo, they invited Elton John to join the track, and they went on to record using the meeting app, Zoom.

13 “Fly” by Sugar Ray

  • Genre: Pop
  • Song year: 1997
  • Album: Floored

Sugar Ray frontman, Mark McGrath, began his career in a California funk metal band prior to releasing his biggest pop/reggae hit, “Fly.”

Super Cat, a Hawaiian D.J., helped compose the song’s lyrics. While musically, the music is upbeat, there are some vague lyrical references to the recent death of Super Cat’s mother.

Overall, the song has a summary, poolside, day at the beach kind of vibe to it. Many listeners can relate to the feeling of feeling stuck and wanting to fly away.

14 “Supersonic” by Oasis

  • Genre: Alternative/Indie/Pop
  • Song year: 1994
  • Album: Definitely Maybe

One of the frontmen in Oasis, Noel Gallagher, wrote “Supersonic” in just 10 minutes. The bandmates had struggled to choose which song they wanted for their first single.

Initially, “Bring It On Down” was set to be first, but the producer loved this song so much that he changed direction and chose this song.

Gallagher admitted to drug use during the time he wrote the song. In fact, he started Gallagher wrote his first three albums while he was high on drugs.

While this song is a massive success, he stated that the lyrics are essentially nonsense.

15 “Learning to Fly” by Pink Floyd

  • Genre: Rock
  • Song year: 1987
  • Album: A Momentary Lapse Of Reason

As previously mentioned, Pink Floyd wrote “Learning to Fly” in ’87, before Tom Petty’s release. “Learning to Fly” by Pink Floyd combines metaphors and the literal sense of flying.

Vocalist and guitarist David Gilmour was in the process of learning to fly himself. The band combined your experience when you learn to fly with a metaphor for breaking free.

During the song, you can hear pilots talking; the pilots are a recording Nick Mason made while at a flying lesson.

According to Mason, he and Gilmour were initially fearful of flying, though they would go on to get pilot licenses.

16 “Airplane” by Plain White T’s

  • Genre: Pop
  • Song year: 2007
  • Album: Wonders Of The Younger

Plain White T’s bass player, Mike Retondo, had worked up a melody on his guitar that he’d often play backstage.

Frontman Tom Higgenson loved the tune and wanted to turn it into a song. Despite his best efforts, he hadn’t come up with any ideas until he was on an airplane.

While waiting for take-off, the melody quickly rushed to his brain, and he wrote the lyrics down as they came to him.

Although the lyrics evoke feelings of being afraid of flying, there’s also something comforting about it.

17 “Fly With Me” by Jonas Brothers

  • Genre: Pop
  • Song year: 2009
  • Album: Lines, Vines, and Trying Times

The Jonas Brothers were thrilled to learn that they would be writing a song for the movie Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.

Not only was the song in the end credits of the film, but it made it on their album “Lines, Vines, and Trying Times.”

“Fly With Me” lyrics have a similar feeling to the overall plot of Peter Pan, not wanting to grow up.

It’s about desiring to take off with someone you love, enjoy life, and let go of adulthood stress.

18 “Airplanes” by B.o.B (featuring Hayley Williams)

  • Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap/Folk
  • Song year: 2010
  • Album: B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray

In “Airplanes” by B.o.B., the singer expresses the desire to make a wish on an Airplane as if it was a shooting star.

Once he achieves his dreams, he thinks back to when rapping was something he passionately enjoyed before it became a job with its own politics.

Lupe Fiasco, the songwriter, gave it to B.o.B., who released it. Surprisingly, B.o.B had not yet met Williams until their live performance for the 2010 MTV Music Video Awards.

19 “Fly Away” by Lenny Kravitz

  • Genre: Funk Rock/Alternative/Indie/Pop/R&B/Soul
  • Song year: 1998
  • Album: 5

When you think of Lenny Kravitz, you probably think of this song. It has an uplifting, dreamy melody and lyrics that many listeners can identify with.

The song has a deeper meaning than simply wanting to go on an adventure above the trees; it’s a song about escaping to another place.

At first, the quickly finished song wasn’t set to make the album. However, once a friend heard this song, he insisted that Kravitz contact his record company to add it.

20 “Come Fly With Me” by Frank Sinatra

  • Genre: Traditional Pop/Jazz
  • Song year: 1958
  • Album: Come Fly with Me

Even if you aren’t a huge Frank Sinatra fan, you’ve likely heard this tune a time or two. It’s a song that’s about love, flying on an airplane, and going on adventures together.

One of the songwriters, Jimmy Van Heusen, was passionate about flying and even moonlighted as a test pilot during WWII. Around the time of its release, the Vietnam War had just begun.

Some believe that part of the popularity of this song was the need for an uplifting escape that the dreamy melody and extravagant lyrics provided.

21 “Daniel” by Elton John

  • Genre: Country/Pop
  • Song year: 1973
  • Album: Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only The Piano Player

English songwriter Bernie Taupin believes that “Daniel” was misinterpreted by its listeners.

The song depicts a tale of a man who flew back to his Texan roots after his involvement in the Vietnam War. Once he returned, he noticed that everyone treated him differently.

In the community’s eyes, Daniel was a hero, though he strongly desired to go home and get back to his life prior to the war.

The song’s goal was to write lyrics that sympathized with veterans who returned home.

22 “Jet Airliner” by Steve Miller Band

  • Genre: Rock/Blues
  • Song year: 1977
  • Album: Book of Dreams

Paul Pena, a songwriter and Blues guitarist, wrote an angry song about his disappointment of disagreements that caused his album never to release.

Once Steve Miller listened to “Jet Airliner,” he noted its pessimistic view of the music industry. Miller made a few tweaks to the lyrics and turned it into a top 10 hit for Steve Miller Band.

Miller just needed one song, and although Pena had a handful of great options, it seems he made the right choice for his album.

23 “I’m Like a Bird” by Nelly Furtado

  • Genre: E.D.M./Pop/Alternative/Indie/R&B and Soul
  • Song year: 2000
  • Album: Whoa, Nelly!

If you’ve ever spent any time in a Karaoke bar, you’ve likely heard someone belt out this hit by Nelly Furtado.

The lyric depicts a narrator who wants to feel free, discouraging her from settling down. Essentially, the song is a warning that she can fly away if she wants to.

While most view it as a love song, others see the lyrics as a song about a traveler who moves from city to city.

This song would go on to chart #9 in the United States, #2 in Australia, and #1 in Canada.

Final Thoughts

Songs about flying can hold a lot of different meanings, some of which have multiple depictions.

Many artists have some sort of experience with aircrafts or are pilots themselves.

Others write lyrics that depict the feeling of freedom that comes with flying, whether it be on a plane or in a magical sense.

If you’re a frequent traveler, lover of airplanes or someone who desires to escape to a new place, the songs on this list will suit your musical needs.