There have been many films, where the protagonist was an expert who retired early due to some personal tragedy and is called to duty on an emergency with hundreds of lives at risk if he fails. Airplane! (1980) follows the same story, where a veteran pilot Ted Striker (played by Robert Hays), who now has a fear of flying is called to land a civilian aircraft full of passengers with its two pilots are incapacitated due to a food poisoning.
What makes Airplane different and remembered even after many decades is its satirical comedy. The screenplay by Jim Abrahams, David Zucker & Jerry Zucker is funny throughout and every actor has played their comedy act effortlessly that it takes us a few seconds to realise they are mocking someone/something.