Ready to take flight?
Whether it’s planes, aviation, or a metaphor for something else, “flying” is a common theme in many songs.
We know that the idea of flying is generally appealing, and it can represent many things to many people, whether it’s exhilaration or escapism.
In this guide, we’re looking at 23 top songs about flying that’ll have you in the clouds.
“Fly Away” by Lenny Kravitz
Song year: 1998
I can’t think of a more fitting song to start this list off with Lenny Kravitz’ “Fly Away”, which was a big hit in the late 90s.
It’s a great song with some fun guitar playing on it. But there isn’t much to the lyrical content at all. It mostly sounds like the narrator wants to escape his life.
Of course, we’ve all felt that way from time to time. Things can get difficult and life can take unexpected turns.
For all those times when you feel like you wish you could get away, there’s always “Fly Away.”
“Leaving On A Jet Plane” by John Denver
Song year: 1966
There’s no way we could leave out John Denver’s “Leaving On A Jet Plane” on this list.
There isn’t a whole lot we can say about the song that probably hasn’t already been said.
But sometimes it’s hard to leave what you know behind, especially a loved one, even if you intend to return to them. And this is a bit of a theme on this list, too.
Again, I’m sure most people can relate to this idea of having to leave when they don’t want to.
This is your anthem for when you’re sad about having to leave but hopeful everything will turn out fine.
“Jet Airliner” by Steve Miller Band
Song year: 1977
If you’ve ever listened to classic rock radio, then it’s quite unlikely you haven’t heard the rock and roll groove of “Jet Airliner.” The intro alone is quite iconic.
It’s kind of a wordy song, and the lyrics seem to contradict themselves in parts, too.
I think the best way to think about it is that it’s a song about reaching a crossroads in your life and having to decide what to do next.
Of course, when any of us come to a crossroads, we often have mixed feelings about what’s next for us.
So, this song knows where you’re coming from if you’re indecisive about next steps.
“Given To Fly” by Pearl Jam
Song year: 1998
I’m not going to give too much of a fuss about the fact that there are some strange songs on this list, and “Given To Fly” by Pearl Jam is one of them.
The song was loosely based on Led Zeppelin’s “Going to California” and guitarist Mike McCready said he came up with the guitar riff while stuck in his condo on a snowy day in Seattle.
Lyricist and vocalist Eddie Vedder said it was basically a song written in the style of a children’s book.
It’s interesting, because the part about a wave coming crashing in and hitting like a fist to the jaw sounds like someone passed on.
But maybe, as Vedder’s statement suggests, there isn’t much more to this song.
“Learning To Fly” by Pink Floyd
Song year: 1987
This is one of those songs that seems to turn from grounded to poetic relatively quickly. The lyrics speak of a “fatal attraction”, which appears to have knocked the narrator off balance.
The lyrics, apparently, were based on songwriter and guitarist David Gilmour’s feelings about flying – something he’s quite passionate about. I guess that explains the “fatal attraction”, since there’s always a risk associated with flying (though not considered anywhere near as dangerous as driving).
The song fits right in with 80s music.
“Flying High Again” by Ozzy Osbourne – A Song With Flying In The Title
Song year: 1981
The best part about “Flying High Again” is the guitar playing of the legendary Randy Rhoads. It’s heavy and brilliant.
The lyrical content is mostly about being under the influence of drugs, and it has a bit of a guilty conscience as seen in these words:
“Mamma’s gonna worry / I been a bad bad boy.”
Of course, other theories are welcome here.
“Fly Like An Eagle” by Steve Miller Band
Song year: 1976
Here’s another Steve Miller Band classic that’s impossible to escape, whether it’s on classic rock radio or TV commercials.
Despite the psychedelic vibes, the song is mostly about solving the world’s problems, as seen in these lines:
“Feed the babies / Who don’t have enough to eat / Shoe the children / With no shoes on their feet / House the people / Livin’ in the street / Oh, oh, there’s a solution.”
Whether it’s musically or lyrically, there is something for everyone here.
“Eight Miles High” by The Byrds
Song year: 1966
What always strikes me about “Eight Miles High” by The Byrds is the unusual sound of guitarist Roger McGuinn’s heavily compressed 12-string electric guitar. What he’s playing sounds a little random to say the least.
That doesn’t take away from the song, however, which has pop appeal while sounding experimental.
The lyrical content is quite specific, and as you might have guessed, about flying in a plane. It was about when The Byrds flew to London in August 1965 for their English tour.
Again, it’s a bit of a weird, unconventional song, but still a gem so far as we’re concerned.
“Plane” by Jason Mraz
Song year: 2005
Ready for another oddball concept of a song?
I’m not saying Jason Mraz’ “Plane” isn’t sincere or authentic, but you’ve also got to ask yourself how much you want to think about going down in a plane. Sounds unpleasant to me.
I guess we could chalk it up to a concept song idea where the narrator finds love he has to leave (kind of like “Leaving On A Jet Plane”), and comforts himself that, if the plane goes down, at least he found magic with his lover.
“Learning To Fly” by Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers
Song year: 1991
“Learning To Fly”, written by Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne, is a high-rotation radio hit. You must have heard it because it’s been everywhere since its release.
As with many songs written by Petty, Lynne and their ilk, the song is rooted in simplicity, and bedded in strummed, acoustic guitars.
Petty said the song was about the fact that life is rarely simple, no matter how positive you are, and no matter how much you strive to be a good person. Success doesn’t make you!
“Aviation” by May Jailer (Lana Del Rey)
Song year: 2006
“Aviation” by Lana Del Rey tells the story of a girl who’s finishing high school and is about to go to university to get a degree in aviation.
Of course, right away, we’re prompted to look for double meanings in the song, especially since the remainder of the song seems to point to the idea that the narrator doesn’t have anyone or anywhere keeping her where she is.
Let’s just say aviation, in this case, probably isn’t about flying. The narrator is thinking about escaping where she is, so it could be any number of things.
“Take Me To The Pilot” by Elton John
Song year: 1970
If you thought that one read-through of the lyrics would tell you what Elton John’s “Take Me To The Pilot” is about… You don’t know Elton John. His songs are often referencing something deeper.
Now here’s what’s funny – even John found the lyrics cryptic and hard to understand!
Bernie Taupin also had a hand in writing this, and he was a known Sci-Fi lover, which apparently inspired this song as well.
The music is great, though.
“Learn To Fly” by Foo Fighters
Song year: 1999
This alt-rock Foo Fighters number contributed a great deal to their popularity. And it is incredibly catchy and memorable. Deceptively, despite the heavy guitars, if you listen carefully, you’ll see that it’s more pop than alt.
Songwriter Dave Grohl said this was one of his least favorite song on the record. It might be because it’s basically just a song about finding inspiration and looking for some signs of life.
Again, that’s quite relatable though, because most of us have felt like our lives, jobs, projects, or relationships are going nowhere at times.
“To The Moon And Back” by Savage Garden
Song year: 1996
90s kids should remember the short-lived success of Australian pop duo Savage Garden, and likely, this number about a woman who grew up without much love or affection.
“To The Moon And Back” still featured a great minor chord progression along with slick production. And it had guitar on it (not something we can say for a lot of modern pop).
It’s easy to forget how great their self-titled debut album was, though, when you consider songs like “I Want You”, “Truly Madly Deeply”, and others.
“Dive” by Disciple
Song year: 2006
Christian band Disciple is known for their heavy music and vivid lyrics.
“Dive” is off my favorite album of theirs (Scars Remain) and is a great song overall. It’s heavy while maintaining some pop sensibilities about it.
Lyrically, it’s a song about waiting on God to answer a prayer.
“Free Bird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd
Song year: 1973
If you’re in a rock band, it seems you can never go to any pub and play any kind of music without someone in the audience calling out “Free Bird” thinking they’re somehow original or funny (hint – they’re not).
But let’s break this down. First and foremost, the song is by the legendary Lynyrd Skynyrd. Ironic or not, several members were killed in a plane crash in 1977.
Musically, the song is simple. If anything, it plays out a lot like a ballad (and probably even paved the way for various Guns N’ Roses songs). But the 10-minute epic does pick up around 4:40, followed by a memorable extended guitar solo beginning around 4:56.
And no one can take that away from this classic.
“Blackbird” by The Beatles
Song year: 1968
If we had anything new to say about this Beatles classic, we might just be mistaken for creative geniuses.
Paul McCartney is responsible for this timeless hit and has shared much about its origin and its meaning over the years. We’re not sure which story to take as canon, but we do know that it was inspired by a blackbird in some shape or form.
The song features exactly four sounds – McCartney’s voice, guitar playing, his foot tapping, and the sound of a blackbird singing in the background.
“Jet” by Paul McCartney and Wings
Song year: 1974
“Jet” clearly refers to someone or something in the context of this song. Supposedly, it was the name of McCartney’s Labrador Retriever. McCartney later said he had a pony named Jet.
We don’t think the song is about a dog or a pony, but maybe that’s just us.
The song is basically open to interpretation, though, because McCartney himself said some of the lyrics were “made up.”
Either way, it is a memorable song.
“I’m Like A Bird” by Nelly Furtado
Song year: 2000
At the outset, I want to be honest about one thing – I don’t like this song. But that’s just a personal bias. Obviously, enough people liked it to make it a big hit.
The song is basically about an indecisive woman who’s found someone to love. She says she doesn’t know herself and is liable to take off at any time.
I guess we all like to think we’re different or special at times. And this is one of those songs that can easily make you feel that way.
“Flying” by The Beatles
Song year: 1967
“Flying” isn’t exactly considered one of The Beatles’ best moments. And one is left wondering whether that’s the case because the song is an instrumental and doesn’t feature any lyrics (there is some singing in it though).
To be fair, even as an instrumental, it basically plays out as a slow 60s style jam. But various instruments come and go to create some interest, which is good practice for an instrumental.
Based on the song, however, you would assume flying was a psychedelic experience to The Beatles. And maybe it was!
“Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins
Song year: 1986
When you think of testosterone-powered 80s songs, it’s hard not to think of “Danger Zone.” And its association with movie Top Gun is inescapable. It’s hard not to think of the movie from the opening bars of this tune.
And that’s because this song was written specifically for the opening scenes of the film at the aircraft carrier. Producers Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson went through 300 songs before settling on this one!
Although performed by Kenny Loggins, the music was composed by Giorgio Moroder, and the lyrics were written by Tom Whitlock. The song was originally going to be recorded by Toto! How different would that have been?
“Pilots” by DramaGods
Song year: 2005
Quite possibly the catchiest alt-rock tune off DramaGods’ first and only album, Love.
The upbeat vibes seem to be reflected in the lyrics, which are full of euphemisms. Sounds like the narrator is trying to have a party in the sky.
I suppose there could be deeper meanings to this song, but I’m not sure what they might be.
Either way, you can enjoy this one for what it is. The Gods’ have got a tight groove, and the band sounds awesome together.
“Fly By Night” by Rush
Song year: 1975
Early Rush tunes bore some resemblance to Led Zeppelin, and this is one of those songs that certainly seems to evoke thoughts of the band that was supposed to go off like a lead balloon.
“Fly By Night” appears to be from the perspective of someone who’s tried hard to accomplish something in their life but isn’t getting anywhere with it. So, they decide to take matters back in their own hands.
It’s a Rush song, so there’s always plenty to be enjoyed in terms of musicality and lyrical content.
Best Songs About Flying, Final Thoughts
As always, we hope you enjoyed our list of songs.
There are so many more that could have been covered here, but we always have fun picking and choosing the ones that stand out.
What is your favorite song about flying?