The Aeroplane Flies High is a five-disc box set released by The Smashing Pumpkins in 1996. It contains expanded versions of the five singles from their album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness and also included a 44-page booklet with pictures and writings by the band's lead singer Billy Corgan, as well as lyrics. It was packaged in a retro carrying case that resembled old 45 RPM vinyl boxes. A limited edition release, the box set reached number 42 on the Billboard charts, and sold 300,000 units (1.5 million discs in all), generating a platinum disc for the band. Originally intended to be limited to 200,000 copies, Virgin Records produced more after the original run sold out due to overwhelming and unexpected demand. The album was remastered in 2013 under the supervision of frontman Billy Corgan and reissued on vinyl and as a CD/DVD box set.
Corgan and James Iha discuss the release of The Aeroplane Flies High on Week in Rock, 1996
If you were to listen all the way through Mellon Collie, and listen all through the B-sides, and then read the booklet, look at the pictures, it does kind of accurately sum up our last two years. The mayhem, the madness, the sadness, and the happiness … and the boredom
According to Tom Moon, writing for Rolling Stone, "Aeroplane is the Pumpkins’ Anthology 1, a cutting-room-floor companion piece to Mellon Collie that provides insight into Corgan’s extraordinary creative outbursts. He has said that Mellon Collie was a transforming experience for the band, and Aeroplane shows how much the Pumpkins are still willing to take chances. And here’s the scary part: There is no filler here. These supposedly second-string tracks are keepers. Aeroplane has its indulgent moments; the very exercise of anthologizing this material is megalomaniacal. But the ballads are as gorgeous as anything Corgan has ever written. The box also has small, ruminative pieces that are jarringly thoughtful and blasts of guitar riffage straight outta the corporate-rock ’70s."
In 2013, the Smashing Pumpkins issued a 6-disc deluxe version of The Aeroplane Flies High, which Spotify classified under the band's "compilations" section. According to Ian Cohen, writing for Pitchfork, "[t]he Aeroplane Flies High is not a beloved obscurity, nor is it a canonical album celebrating a milestone anniversary. It’s not even an album: it’s a widely available, 16-year old collection of B-sides from a double album. Granted, the Smashing Pumpkins' Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness was more judiciously edited than the title would lead you to believe. It was a 28-song double album all the same, and now Aeroplane nearly quadruples in size with 90 additional tracks on top of its original 33, with a bonus DVD to boot."
As part of EMI Music's extensive reissue campaign, a special edition of the album was released on July 26, 2013. The 6-CD set consists of the five original EPs, each now with added bonus tracks, as well as an additional CD of live material. In total the discs feature 90 tracks. The package also includes a DVD consisting of a live show in Belfort, France from July 4, 1997. The set was also released on vinyl as a 5-LP box set.