Inside Angelina Jolie's Life as a Pilot: From Being Inspired by Maddox to Owning Her Own Plane
The 42-year-old actress and activist has been flying her own planes since 2004. She told PEOPLE she started flying because son Maddox, then just 3 years old, was interested in aircrafts.
“Every time Mad sees a plane, he’s amazed,” Jolie said at the time. “If I could actually fly a plane by the time he’s 4, I’ll be like Superman to him.”
Looks like she was able to impress him, just like she wowed fans watching the ITV special The Queen’s Green Planet. In the film, she is seen nonchalantly piloting and landing a small plane over the Namibian desert. For the new documentary, which she appeared in with Queen Elizabeth and Sir David Attenborough, Jolie spent time in the African nation highlighting forest conservation.
Jolie got her pilot’s license in December 2004 and in early 2005, she bought one of the safest single-engine planes, a Cirrus SR22-G2, with a base price of $334,700. The plane came equipped with a special parachute which, should the aircraft lose control, would carry the entire plane down to safety.
The actress continued her training with the aircraft and even had her instructor join her in Calgary, Canada in late 2005 to continue her lessons. Then-husband Brad Pitt joined her in taking lessons while they were living in Canada.
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A source told PEOPLE at the time that she was a “completely competent, confident flyer,” and noted that Jolie bonded with other female flyers-to-be at the local hangar. “She just beams in the cockpit,” the source added. Jolie kept Maddox close while in the air, too: Her tail number contained the letters “MX” in honor of her son.
After first taking up the hobby to impress her oldest child, Jolie revealed to PEOPLE in September 2017 that Maddox, now 16, has taken up the family activity.
“He’s quite capable and always takes me by surprise,” Jolie said of Maddox. “He’s been practicing flying, then they called me the other day and said, ‘so Mad can go solo,’ and I nearly dropped the phone!”