- The most famous one is:
Ted Striker: Surely you can't be serious!
- Most likely due to its Hilarious in Hindsight implications, but this line coming from an elderly woman just overcome with airsickness, considering the person they were mocking didn't become president until a full year after the movie had been released:
I haven't felt this awful since I saw that Ronald Reagan
- Reagan was still a prominent political figure at the time (he had lost a narrow Republican primary race to Gerald Ford just 4 years prior, and the movie was released about 2 weeks before that year's RNC) - so yes, the filmmakers knew exactly what they were doing with that jab.
- "Excuse me, stewardess. I speak Jive."
- When Barbara Billingsley passed away, almost every online news source and blogger posted her "I speak Jive" clip. Definitely a Crowning Moment.
- Any mention of Ted's "drinking problem".
- Or his mind-numbingly boring stories of life after the army. Or rather, the reactions to said stories.
- "It was a rough place - the seediest dive on the wharf. Populated with every reject and cutthroat from Bombay to Calcutta. It's worse than Detroit."
- "Looks like I picked the wrong day to quit sniffing glue." *sniff*
- "...What a pisser!"
- Just about everything Stephen Stucker, as air control employee Johnny, said or did (bonus points to Stucker as these were all made up by him):
"Johnny, what do you make of this?" *hands him a computer printout*
"This? Why, I can make a hat, or a brooch, or a pterodactyl..."
- "And Leon's getting laaaaaarger!"
- "The tower? Rapunzel! Rapunzel!"
- (after he has plugged back in the runway lights, which have gone out in the middle of an emergency landing) "Just kidding!"
- (to Mrs. Oveur) "Where did you get that dress, it's awful, and those shoes and that coat, jeeeeez!"
- "Me John Big Tree".
- "Your husband and the others are alive, but unconscious." "Just like Gerald Ford."
- "First the earth cooled. And then the dinosaurs came but they got too big and fat so they died and turned to oil. Then the Arabs came and they were driving Mercedes Benz's. And Prince Charles started wearing all of Lady Di's clothes. I couldn't believe it"...
- "There's a sale at Penney's!"
- "Oh, it's a big pretty white plane with red stripes, curtains in the windows and wheels and it looks like a big Tylenol!"
- In the climax: "AUNTIE EM!!!"
- "We need someone that won't crack under pressure"
"How 'bout Mister Rogers?"
- "Mayday, what the hell is that?"
"Mayday, why that's the Russian New Year! We'll hold a big parade..."
- "Okay, boys. Let's take some pictures."
- "We have clearance, Clarence." "Roger, Roger. What's our vector, Victor?"
- Crowning Moment of Funny? What is it?
- "It's a big building where the generals meet, but that's not important right now".
- Later thrown back at her: "It's a big building with patients, but that's not important right now."
- "It's the little room in the front of the plane where the pilots sit, but that's not important right now."
- "No thank you. I take it black, like my men."
- The look the boy gives her after that line is gold as well.
- Rex Kramer beats up some guys.
- "Stop nuclear power?" *whack* "How about Buddhism?" *pow* "Scientologyyyyyyyy!"
- Using arguably the most beautiful back-flip kick-throw ever.
- Doubles as a Crowning Moment of Awesome for everyone who's ever wanted to smack any of those donation seekers—this is foreshadowed in the opening sequence when Ted himself punches one of the guys.
- And one of those guys is a young Charles Logan.
- Rex Kramer "driving" to the airport.
- Where to start? First, he runs over a bicyclist, and is completely unaware of it, even as the cyclist calls him an a-hole.
- Then, the fact that every time they turn, he's not turning the wheel or turning it the other way.
- And then the Indian attack...
- "...free to live a life of religious fulfillment."
- "He's a menace to himself and everything else in the air. Yes, birds too."
- "Alright, he's a risk. But what choice do we have?"
- "Keep it at 24,000. No, feet."
- Oveur has had some interesting experiences:
- "It's an entirely different kind of flying, altogether."
- "That's Lt. Hurwitz. He thinks he's Ethel Merman."
- Bonus points for actually being played by Ethel Merman (in her last film role).
- "Ladies and Gentlemen, there's no reason to be alarmed and we hope you enjoy the rest of your flight. By the way, does anyone on board know how to fly a plane?" (cue mass panic)
- And a pair of nude breasts randomly appear, jiggling in front of the camera.
- The beating heart on the desk at the Mayo Clinic.
- And the fact that the shelves behind him have jars of mayo.
- "I have an emergency call for you on line 5 from a Mr. Hamm." "Alright, gimme Hamm on 5, hold the Mayo."
- "I just want to tell you both good luck, we're all counting on you."
- Including after the plane has successfully landed.
- The quarreling announcers.
Male Announcer: The red zone has always been for loading and unloading of passengers. There's never stopping in a white zone.
Female Announcer: Don't you tell me which zone is for loading, and which zone is for stopping!
Male Announcer: Listen Betty, don't start up with your white zone shit again.
- "WZAZ in Chicago, where DISCO LIVES FOREVER!" (Airplane knocks the beacon off)
- The opening credits where the fin of the airplane doubles for a shark fin, complete with appropriate music!
- Roger hits his Rage Breaking Point with little Joey after hearing that his father thought poorly of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Roger: The hell I don't! Listen, kid! I've been hearing that crap ever since I was at UCLA. I'm out there busting my buns every night. Tell your old man to drag Walton and Lanier up and down the court for 48 minutes.
- "No, the white phone."
- Otto the Autopilot. The look on his face when Elaine has to re-inflate him? Priceless.
- And the bit where the doctor walks in, sees her inflating him, and turns around and walks straight out...
- At the end of the movie, it turns out that Otto is sentient, and he flies the plane away, after inflating a female companion, who looks suspiciously like Elaine.
- Ted buying a ticket for the plane and taking the smoking option. He's then handed a ticket that is literally smoking.
- "Two more minutes?! They could be miles off course!" "That's impossible, they're on instruments!" And then we see that, yes, indeed they are....
- The scene where the boy is reading a "Nun's Life" magazine, a few seats from the nun reading a "Boy's Life".
- "When Kramer hears about this, the shit's gonna hit the fan." (And it does. Literally.)
- What really sells the scene is not just the shit hitting the fan but what happens to it when it does.
- "Modern Sperm" magazine...a one-off image gag, but still amusing to think about.
- Which is in the "Whacking Material" section in between "Fiction" and "Non-Fiction".
- Captain Oveur ate fish...
- A very overlooked joke that got abused in the sequel.
Murdock: You want me to check the weather, Clarence?
Oveur: No, why don't you take care of it?
- "No, that's what they'll be expecting us to do".
- "Christmas, Ted, what does that mean to you? To me, it was a living hell. Do you know what it's like to fall in the mud and get kicked on the head with an iron boot? Of course you don't, no one does. It never happens. Sorry, Ted, that's a dumb question... skip that".
- Mrs. Oveur and her horse.
Ted: We're bombing the storage depots at Daiquiri in 1200 hours. We're coming in from the north below their radar.
Elaine: When will you be back?
Ted: I can't tell you that. It's classified.
- This rather unfortunate exchange:
Rex: Our only hope is to build this man up. We gotta give him all the confidence we can. (into microphone) Striker, have you ever flown a multi-engine plane before?
Ted: No. Never.
Rex: (with microphone still on) Shit! This is a goddamned waste of time! There's no way he can land this plane!
- Ted's deer-in-headlights reaction from the cockpit really sells this one.
- The parade of emergency vehicles dispatched at the Chicago airport includes a cement mixer, a farm tractor, and a truckload of Budweiser.
- This exchange:
"Captain, how soon can we land?"
"I can't tell."
"You can tell me, I'm a doctor."
"No, I mean I'm not sure."
"Can't you take a guess?"
"Well... not for another two hours."
"You can't take a guess for another two hours?"
- The scene where Ted and Elaine kiss on the beach. And then the waves come in and drench them. When they recede, Ted and Elaine are covered in seaweed and there's even some fish flopping about next to them.
- It's even better when you know that, regardless of what everyone thinks the first time they see the scene, the Zuckers and Abrahams weren't familiar with From Here to Eternity and it's not an intentional parody of that film's beach lovemaking Signature Scene.
- Kramer: "I want every light you can get poured onto that field!" McCroskey (pointing out to the airfield): "Being done right now." Cut to a dump truck unloading electric lamps onto the ground.
- Dr. Rumak's introduction. He is asked if he is a doctor. He replies yes...and for some odd reason he's wearing a stethoscope.
- Elaine does her job of relaying information to the control tower a bit too well
Kramer: What's the weather like?
Ted: Rain, and a little ice.
Elaine: (on radio) Rain, and a little ice.
Kramer: Alright, Striker. Just keep the plane steady and everything will be fine.
Ted: (to Elaine) It's a damn good thing he doesn't know how much I hate his guts.
Elaine: (on radio) It's a damn good thing you don't know how much he hates your guts.
- The plane that due to poor hand signal communication taxis directly through the terminal window.
- "I just want to tell you both good luck. We're all counting on you."
- "Shayna, they bought their tickets. They knew what they were getting into. I say, let 'em crash!"
- Vintage airplane test footage over the traumatic voiceover from Ted's past ("You'll have to decide! You'll have to decide!").
- The Brick Joke at the end of the movie after the credits (one of the earlier examples of The Stinger).
Taxi passenger: Well I'll give him another 20 minutes, but that's it.
- What makes this joke even funnier is that the passenger in question was played by Howard Jarvis. Jarvis was a lobbyist and politician known for advocating against tax increases and for fiscal responsibility.
- The long line of people wanting to slap some sense into the hysterical female passenger. Several of them are wielding various implements with which to beat her. And one has a gun. She's in for a world of hurt. Even funnier: Rumack slaps the woman twice: Once when he's trying to calm her down, and again when he leaves and the next person takes his place.
- The flight attendant singing "River of Jordan" to the sick girl who's a passenger. It seems like it's going to be a heartwarming moment - and then the flight attendant knocks the girl's IV feed out with her guitar.
- And when the girl finally puts the needle back in, the flight attendant does it again.
- "He's all over the place! 900 feet up to 1300 feet. What an asshole!"
- "I just want to tell you both good luck. We're all counting on you."
- When all hell breaks loose on the plane, one of the nuns starts strangling a Hare Krishna.
- The infamously long brawl between the two girl scouts during Ted's flashback.
- During Ted's first meeting with 'Elaine', he ends up dancing the kazatzsky while juggling apples.
- When Ted successfully lands the plane several reporters rush into several adjoining phone booths to report the news...and they promptly knock the entire phone stand over.
- When Ted is under pressure to land the plane, clips of WWII plane crashes play over the scene... and stock footage of early attempts at air travel.