Airplane! (titled Flying High! in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Japan and the Philippines) is a 1980 American parody film directed and written by David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker and released by Paramount Pictures. It stars Robert Hays and Julie Hagerty and features Leslie Nielsen, Robert Stack, Lloyd Bridges, Peter Graves, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Lorna Patterson. The film is a parody of the disaster film genre, particularly the 1957 Paramount film Zero Hour!, from which it borrows the plot and the central characters, as well as many elements from Airport 1975. The film is known for its use of surreal humor and its fast-paced slapstick comedy, including visual and verbal puns and gags.
Airplane! was a critical and financial success, grossing over $83 million in North America alone, against a budget of just $3.5 million. The film's creators received the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Comedy, and nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and a BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay.
In the years since its release, Airplane!'s reputation has grown substantially. The film was ranked sixth on Bravo's 100 Funniest Movies. In a 2007 survey by Channel 4 in the United Kingdom, it was judged the second greatest comedy film of all time, after Monty Python's Life of Brian.
In 2008, Airplane! was selected by Empire magazine as one of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time and in 2012 was voted number one in The 50 Funniest Comedies Ever poll. In 2010 it was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.
Ex-fighter pilot and taxi driver Ted Striker (Robert Hays) became traumatized during an unnamed war, leading to a pathological fear of flying. As a result, he is unable to hold a responsible job. His wartime girlfriend, Elaine Dickinson (Julie Hagerty), now a flight attendant, leaves him. Striker nervously boards a Boeing 707 (Trans American Flight 209) from Los Angeles to Chicago on which she is serving, hoping to win her back, but she rebuffs him.