50 Visual Gags In 'Airplane!' -- Surely You Caught Them All

By | August 22, 2022

test article image
Left: Flight attendant Randy (Lorna Patterson) demonstrates the life preserver in 'Airplane!' Center: Dr. Rumack (Leslie Nielsen) explains that everything's fine. Right: Steve McCroskey (Lloyd Bridges) picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue. Source:

There are few movies as dense and re-watchable as the 1980 comedy Airplane! Its gags and jokes come fast and furious, with some of them happening simultaneously. Others seem like cryptic nonsense -- it might take you a few viewings to figure them out. Part of the film's charm is the contrast between the subtle and the obvious -- for example, you can't miss it when Dr. Rumack (Leslie Nielsen) is telling a lie and his nose, Pinocchio-like, begins growing. Other Airplane! jokes and gags are hidden, such as signs and magazines that you can't even read if you're not looking for them, or weird stuff inserted into the end credits. Sure, you know there’s a joke made out of the inflation device on the plane, but do you know what the no-smoking sign actually says? And are you a big enough Airplane! fan to know which Victorian author gets credit at the end of the film? Read on to for the visual gags you love -- or might have missed -- in Airplane! 

The Ghost Of Blockbusters Past

test article image

The film opens with familiar theme music, and a plane's tail slicing through clouds, in a clear riff on Jaws (1975).