ZERO HOUR!

A complete transcript of the 1957 film starring Dana Andrews as Ted Stryker, Linda Darnell as Mrs. Ellen Stryker, and Sterling Hayden as Cpt. Martin Treleaven.

Please note that this is not an official or authorized script for this movie.  This is a transcription of the final product into text form.  It is also not guaranteed to be 100% accurate.

Much of the dialog in this movie was lifted verbatim for the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker comedy Airplane!, although some of the lifted dialog was spoken by different characters in that later movie.  Therefore, all dialog in the following transcript that also appears in Airplane! is shown in this typeface.


Zero Hour!

[Opening title sequence shows World War II fighter planes — presumably Canadian Air Force Spitfires — taking off from a military air base and undergoing (if you'll pardon the pun) a flight into danger.]

NARRATOR: On April 10th, 1945, units of the 72nd squadron of the Royal Air Force crossed the boundary of Germany under the command of Canadian squadron leader Ted Stryker.  Their mission: penetrate enemy fighter cover and hold the formation intact for a vital incendiary raid on the German supply depots of Weissbaden.  At 07:30, 12 miles from the target, enemy fighters were sighted directly ahead.  Stryker led his planes to meet them.

[Various shots of an aerial dogfight involving Stryker's Spitfire squadron and German WW2 fighter planes, some with stock footage, some with closeups of nose cannons and wing-mounted machine guns on real airplanes, and some with model airplanes set on fire.]

NARRATOR: Using the thick fog banks below as a cover, the Spitfires eluded the remaining German fighters and re-formed for the initial run on the target.  Although Stryker's weather briefing reports had indicated that Weissbaden would be clear, the fog had closed in over the entire area.  There were two possible decisions: pass up the vital target for a less important alternate to the south, or maintain the descent relying completely on instruments and a possible break in the fog near the ground level.  Stryker went for the vital target.  Too late he realized his mistake; blinded by the fog, six of Stryker's men crashed into the German countryside.

[Shots of model airplanes in the fog, crashing into a model of the German countryside and bursting into flame.  Dissolve to establishing shot of Edinburgh Military Hospital.]

NARRATOR: Five weeks later, the war in Europe was over.  But for squadron leader Stryker, seriously wounded in the course of the raid, a new kind of war was just beginning.

[Ted Stryker is lying on a hospital bed, reliving the scene in his mind.]

FIGHTER PILOT #1 [voiceover]: It's closed in, Ted.  What about the alternate target?

FIGHTER PILOT #2 [voiceover]: Can't see anything in this fog.

FIGHTER PILOT #3 [voiceover]: Maybe we're off course.

STRYKER [voiceover]: We're on course. 

FIGHTER PILOT #4 [voiceover]: We're too low, Ted!  We're too low!

[Their planes crash into the German countryside.  Again.  Dissolve to BRITISH ARMY DOCTOR shining a light in Stryker's eyes, examining him.]

DOCTOR: Hmmm.  It seems to be healing very nicely, everything considered.  Pressure on the optic nerve is almost completely gone.  There any pain left in there?

STRYKER: No.

DOCTOR: Keep looking straight ahead. ... I heard about that meeting at headquarters this morning.  Your taking all the blame for what happened on that raid was a pretty courageous thing to do.

STRYKER: Was it?  Because of my mistake, six men didn't return from that raid.

DOCTOR: What's the good of condemning yourself?  Nothing you can do about it now.

STRYKER: No, there's nothing I can do about it; that doesn't mean I can live with it.

DOCTOR: You're gonna have to, sooner or later, you might as well get used to it.  If you don't, you haven't got much of a life ahead of you.

STRYKER: That's easy to say.  But those were my men.  We'd been through a lot together.  They were depending on me.  They'd be going home now, if I hadn't failed 'em.

DOCTOR: What about failing yourself?  You know, I ... I've been watching you the past few weeks here at the hospital.  Seeing no one, speaking to no one.  You're on the run, Stryker.  You've gotta face what happened.  Forget it.  Nobody's got a corner on mistakes, in a war or any other time.  ... Good luck, Stryker.

[Dissolve to city skyline.  Text on screen: "CANADA 1956".  Shot moves to office door with text: "MID-CANADIAN AIRCRAFT CO. LTD, JET RESEARCH WINNIPEG DIVISION".  Ted is sitting in front of the desk of FRANK GRAHAM.]

STRYKER: Well, you have the authority to hire anybody you want, haven't you?

FRANK: After they're cleared for the kind of highly classified government work we're doing, yes.

STRYKER: What is it?  My war record again?

FRANK: No, not really.  You're the only one keeping that alive.  For most people, it's ancient history.

STRYKER: You expect me to believe that?

FRANK: It's the truth.  Frankly, what bothers us is your record since the war.  Twelve jobs in ten years, and not any one of them shows you can accept any responsibility.  Not one of them was worthy of a man of your training and experience.

STRYKER: But I've stayed away from the thing I was really trained for.  You know why.  But now ... look, Frank.  I may be all those things they say I am.  But I think I can handle that job, and I need it very badly.  My wife and I ... well, we're right at the breaking point.  I'll do anything you say if you'll just give me a chance.  I won't let you down, Frank, I promise you.

FRANK: All right, I'll see what I can do.

STRYKER: Thanks.

[Stryker is walking down the street carrying a sack of groceries, sticking out of which is the top of a bottle of wine.  He comes across MRS. PURTY, his landlady, who is checking the mail.]

STRYKER: Hi, Mrs. Purty.  Anything for me?

MRS. PURTY: No, there's one for your wife.  Say, it looks like you two are going to do a little celebrating.

STRYKER: Oh, everything the law allows, after all this is a pretty special occasion.

MRS. PURTY: I bet I know, you got that job you've been wanting.

STRYKER: It looks that way.  I'll tell you all about it later.

[Inside Stryker's house]

STRYKER: Ellen? ... Oh, Ellen, I think —

[But no one is there.  He looks around the house, finds a note left on a desk, reads it, and crumples it up.  Dissolve to the local airport at night.  Over the top of a chain link fence, Stryker sees MRS. ELLEN STRYKER climbing the stairs to board a propeller-driven DC-4 airliner.  The words "THE MARIA MADELON" are visible on the side of the aircraft, and at least part of the FAA registration number, "CF-141", is visible on the underside of its left wing.]

STRYKER: Ellen!  Ellen!

[But Ellen doesn't hear him and climbs aboard the plane.  Stryker jogs back toward the airport terminal.  Dissolve to the interior of the plane.  There are two seats on either side of the aisle.  Ellen is seated next to her son, JOEY STRYKER.]

JOEY: When do we take off, mom?

ELLEN: Oh, any minute now, dear.  They've almost finished loading the baggage.

[Stryker jogs up the steps to board the plane at the last minute.  He is greeted by STEWARDESS JANET TURNER.]

JANET: We'll be taking off in a few minutes, sir.  Do you want to take the empty seat right up there?

STRYKER: Thank you.

[Stryker sees his wife and son, who do not notice him, and straps himself into the empty seat.  The propeller engines sputter to life, the plane taxis to the runway, and the captain and copilot both advance all 4 throttles to full power at the same time.  Stryker is sweating and gripping his armrest during takeoff.  After takeoff, Stryker gets up and locks himself in the bathroom.  Apparently, DC-4 bathrooms have windows in them, because Stryker then peers out the window and sees the exhaust pipes for the left inboard engine belching smoke and/or flame (which apparently is normal).  Stryker has more flashbacks of his fighter squadron crashing into the German countryside.  When he finally comes out of the bathroom, he runs into CAPTAIN BILL WILSON, the plane's pilot, who is getting a drink of water.]

CAPTAIN: D'you feel all right, sir?

STRYKER: Oh ... I haven't been up for a long time.

CAPTAIN: Would you like some dramamine?

[Stryker shakes his head no.  The captain gives Stryker a funny stare as the Captain walks away.  Stryker walks down the aisle to confront his wife and son.]

ELLEN [to Joey]: There's only room for one [mumbled words] — [she notices Stryker] Ted!

JOEY: Dad!  I thought you weren't coming!

STRYKER: Hi, Joey! [to Ellen] I came home early and found your note; I guess you meant for me to read it later.  Ellen, I've got to talk to you.  Joey can sit in my seat back there.

ELLEN: I just don't want to go over it any more.

STRYKER: I just thought ... how'd you like to go up into the cockpit, Joey?

JOEY: Could we?!

STRYKER: I'll check with the stewardess and see if they'll let us up there.

[Cut to stewardess Janet talking with her beau, TONY DECKER.]

TONY: Be reasonable, Janet.  I can't help breaking our date in Vancouver.  I've gotta be in Seattle by tomorrow night or I'll lose the late club job.  You know what it means if I can work myself into that emcee spot?  We could be married by summer!

JANET: Sounds a little familiar, like one of your routines.

[Stryker approaches, and Janet returns businesslike to looking at her clipboard.]

JANET: I'm sure whatever your reasons are, they're excellent, Mr. Decker.

STRYKER: Hi.

JANET: Your name, sir?

STRYKER: Stryker.

JANET: Oh, yes, Mr. Stryker, I was just speaking to your wife and little boy; I didn't know you were travelling together.

STRYKER: That's all right.  Look, I wonder if you could do me a favor.  My boy has never been inside of a cockpit before, and like all boys he's crazy about planes and pilots —

JANET: Oh, I'm sure we could arrange that.

[In the cockpit, the captain is talking with FIRST OFFICER WALT STEWART, the plane's copilot.]

FIRST OFFICER: Temperature's creeping up again on number three, Bill.

CAPTAIN: I'll open the cowl flaps a little more.

FIRST OFFICER: Still running a little hot.

JANET [entering the cockpit with Stryker and Joey in tow]: We have visitors.

CAPTAIN: Hello!

FIRST OFFICER: Hi!

JANET: This is Captain Wilson, and our first officer, Mr. Stewart, and this is Mr. Stryker and his son, Joey.

STRYKER: We don't want to be in the way up here, but I just thought the boy might have a quick look.

CAPTAIN: You feeling any better?

STRYKER: Yeah, I'm okay now.

JANET: I'll be serving dinner pretty soon.  We have a choice tonight: grilled halibut, or lamb chops.

CAPTAIN: I'll try the fish, it was pretty good last week.

FIRST OFFICER: Same for me, Janet.

JANET: Okay.

JOEY: That's what I'd like too, please.

JANET: All right, I'll serve it to you as soon as you come back.  What about you, Mr. Stryker?

STRYKER: I'll have the meat, thank you.

JANET: All right.

CAPTAIN [to Joey]: Come on, move up here, you can see better.  [takes out a toy DC-4] Joey, here's something we give our special visitors.  Would you like to have it?

JOEY: Thank you!  Thanks a lot?

CAPTAIN: You ever been in a cockpit before?

JOEY: No, sir!  I've never been up in a plane before!

FIRST OFFICER: How do you like it?

JOEY: Swell!  [pointing at controls] Are those the things that work the propellers?

CAPTAIN: How'd you know that?

JOEY: My dad.  He was a flyer in the war.  He flew jets.

STRYKER: I've told you before, Joey.  They didn't have jets when I flew.

JOEY: Oh.  Well, he flew a lot, anyway.  Fighters.  Shot down a lot of planes, too, didn't you, dad?

STRYKER: Joey.

CAPTAIN: You never fly, anymore?  I thought you service guys never got it out of your system.

FIRST OFFICER: You want me to check the weather, Bill?

CAPTAIN: No, I'll get it.  'Scuse me.

STRYKER: We'd better get back, now.

FIRST OFFICER: Uh, Joey can stay up here for a while, if he'd like to.

JOEY: Could I, dad?

STRYKER: Okay, but don't get in the way.  Thanks very much.

CAPTAIN: Flight 714 to Winnipeg radio, climbing, climbing to cruise eight thousand.  What's the latest on the weather, please?

WINNIPEG RADIO [filtered]: It's not good.  Looks like snow and ice crystals around Regina.  Most likely some fog in an hour or two.  But you're not going into Calgary, so that shouldn't bother you.

CAPTAIN: What's the forecast in Vancouver?

WINNIPEG RADIO [filtered]: Should be all right when the fog clears, Captain.

CAPTAIN: Flight 714, thanks a lot.  Well, Joey, what do you think of all this?  Would you like to grow up and be a pilot like your dad?

[Joey smiles and nods.  Meanwhile, Stryker is back sitting next to Ellen.]

STRYKER: Try it again with me, Ellen.  Just try.

ELLEN: I have.  I, I've tried to believe that ... you'd take hold somewhere.  Ted, face it for once.  We've been on the run ever since the war.  Different cities, different jobs, and all the time you kept growing further and further away from Joey and me.  He's needed you, Ted.  I've needed you.  But you were never there.

STRYKER: I know things haven't been right for a long time, Ellen.  But it'll be different.  Like it was in the beginning, remember?

ELLEN: I remember everything.  It's all I've ever had to go on.  Mostly, I remember ... the nights when we were together.  I remember how you used to hold me.  Then afterwards, how we'd ... watch until the sun finally came up.  When it did, it was almost like ... like each new day was created ... only for us.

STRYKER: That's the way I've always wanted it to be, no matter what's happened, Ellen.

ELLEN: But I remember other things, too.  How you began to change right in front of my eyes.  Everything that we had together, Ted, is ... it's gotten lost somewhere.  It isn't what you did, it's ... more and more what you didn't do.  Maybe I should have been of more help to you.  But you wouldn't even let me do that.  All I've ever wanted was to see you stop running away, to face the one big mistake you ever made in your whole life.  It's the kind of a mistake that any man could make under fire.  And I've waited ... waited so long for you to ... make a stand somewhere.  For the three of us.

STRYKER: I will.  I promise.

ELLEN: Joey and I can't live any longer on your promises, I'm sorry.

STRYKER: Don't you feel anything for me at all anymore?

ELLEN: It takes so many things to make love last.  Most of all, it takes respect.  I can't live with a man I don't respect.

[Three old Irishmen, WHITMOND THE ARGO FAN and his two DRINKING BUDDIES, are pouring themselves cups of whiskey.]

WHITMOND: Here, put it in the cupboard, quick!

JANET: Boys!

WHITMOND: This is just a drop o' water, you know.

JANET: Are you about ready for something to eat?

WHITMOND: Well, we're about worked up to it at that!

JANET: What would you like, grilled halibut or lamb chops?

WHITMOND: Well, now isn't this just like home!  I'll have a wee bit o' the halibut.  Are the chips come with it?

JANET: Well, no, not chips, but we have the specialty of the house, we have au gratin potatoes.

WHITMOND: Uh huh.

JANET: What about you gentlemen?

DRINKING BUDDY #1: I believe I'll have the meat, miss.

JANET: Uh huh.

DRINKING BUDDY #2: So will I.

JANET: Okay.

WHITMOND: Say, why don't you come to the big game with us tomorrow.  It should be a good one, you know!

JANET: Oh, I don't know anything about football.

WHITMOND: Heh!  Well, you'll be right at home with my two friends here.  They don't know anything about it either.

JANET: Oh, I can hardly believe that.

WHITMOND [to drinking buddies]: You just don't understand this new formation the Argos have.  This chap goes way out into the flat, where he can take off fast or go long.  That's what they call a flanker, and you just cannot defense against it.

[Meanwhile, in the cockpit:]

CATPAIN: We'll see you later, Joey.

JOEY: Okay, thanks a lot!

CAPTAIN: Nice boy, huh?

FIRST OFFICER: Sure is.

[Janet enters with a tray of food]

FIRST OFFICER: Hey, we've been waitin' for you!  A little bit late tonight.

JANET: Who wants to be first?

CAPTAIN: Go ahead, Walt, I got it.

FIRST OFFICER: Okay.

JANET: How's the weather?

CAPTAIN: Not so good.  We've got some heavy stuff ahead of us.  It might get rough unless we can climb on top.

JANET: Oh, do you think we'll get in on time?

CAPTAIN: About a half hour late, I'd say.

FIRST OFFICER: Hey, Jan?

JANET: Yeah?

FIRST OFFICER: How're you and that boyfriend of yours doing back there?  Think you'll ever get him to the altar?

JANET: I'll get him there if I have to drag him every inch of the way.  After all, remember, I've been trained for every kind of emergency.  How's the fish?

FIRST OFFICER: Mmm, not bad, not bad at all.  Save me some seconds if you have some left over, huh?

JANET: Save you some seconds?  Mr. Stewart, I think that with your appetite that this airline can't afford you any longer.  Well, back to the kitchen!

[Stryker is sitting next to Joey]

JOEY: I sure wish you had flown jets, dad.

STRYKER: I'm afraid they're a little too fast for me, Joey.

JOEY: Why don't you fly any more?  I wish you would.  Then you could take me up with you.  Maybe you could even teach me to fly.  That'd be great!  We could have a lot of fun.

STRYKER: I just don't seem to have the time any more, Joey.

JOEY: You never have time for anything.

STRYKER: I know.

JOEY: Dad?

STRYKER: Yeah?

JOEY: Why were mom and me going away without you?

STRYKER: Well, uh, Joey, your mother felt that it might be a good idea for you two to have a little trip together.  And I just didn't know whether I could go or not.  'Til the last minute.

JOEY: I was afraid we weren't going to see you again.  Ever.

STRYKER: Where did you ever get that idea? [hugs Joey fervently]

[The plane is flying through, or near, a thunderstorm]

JANET: Are you finished?

WHITMOND: Oh, thank you.  I don't like this rain, love.  Our boys would get hurt on a wet field.

JANET: It's gonna clear off in Vancouver by tomorrow, Mr. Whitmond, we just got that report.

WHITMOND: Well, I'm glad to hear it!  I can rest a bit easier now.  You see, between you and me, I have some fairly nice wagers on the contest tomorrow.

JANET: Oh!  Well, I wish you a lot of luck.

WHITMOND: Well, thank you very much.

[Whitmond uncorks his whiskey bottle, much to the dismay of the LADY PASSENGER sitting next to him.]

WHITMOND: Would you care for a drop, madam?

MRS. SUMMERS: Certainly not.

[Joey is sitting next to Tony, who puts on an Irish glove puppet named PADDY.]

PADDY: [yawns] I had such a good sleep.  Wait a minute.  I think there's someone starin' at us.

[Joey giggles]

TONY: Paddy, we're on an airplane, there are other people with us, remember?

PADDY: He's not joinin' our act now, is he, Tony?  You know I work alone.

TONY: Oh, stop.

PADDY: I'll find out for meself.  Excuse me, young man, are you in show business?

JOEY: Who me?

PADDY: He's a nice lookin' boy.  He might be movie material.

JOEY: Say, what's his name?

TONY: Paddy.  He works for me.

PADDY [to Janet]: Hello, darlin'.  Oh, fasten your safety belts, it's gonna be a rough ride.

JANET: It certainly is.  Joey, here's your dinner.

PADDY: Well, you didn't bring me my dinner, darlin'!

JANET: Well, what would you like?

PADDY: A little kiss.

JANET: Not now, later.

TONY: He's got a one-track mind, just like me.

JANET: Oh, Paddy, you're impossible!

[The plane flies through some cloud tops.  A SICK WOMAN ON PLANE starts to moan.]

JANET: Yes?

SICK WOMAN: I can't stand it!

JANET: What is it?

SICK WOMAN: I can't stand it.  My stomach.  I've never felt anything like it before.  Help me.  Please help me.

JANET: Just a moment, I'll get you some dramamine.

[Janet goes to the back of the plane and calls the Captain on the intercom phone.]

CAPTAIN: Yes?

JANET: Captain, one of the woman passengers is very sick.

CAPTAIN: Airsick?

JANET: I think so, but I've never seen it so acute.

CAPTAIN: Find out if there's a doctor on board, as quietly as you can.  I'll be back as soon as we get over this weather.

FIRST OFFICER: We're running into icing conditions.  Can you clear us to get over it at ten thousand feet?

VOICE ON RADIO [filtered]: Okay, ATC clears flight 714 to ten thousand.  Go ahead.

FIRST OFFICER: 714 to ATC, thank you.

[The first officer wipes sweat off his brow.  Janet returns to the Sick Woman with a cup and pills.]

JANET: Here, these pills should help you.  Now try to relax, the Captain will be back to see you in just a moment.

SICK WOMAN: Thank you.  How long before we land?

JANET: Almost five hours.

[The plane flies along.  Janet talks to one of the passengers.]

JANET: I'm sorry I had to wake you, there's no emergency, it's just a passenger who's in a little discomfort and we thought perhaps a doctor could help.  So go back to sleep, fasten your safety belts, and we'll to be out of the storm in a little while.

WOMAN: Stewardess?

JANET: Yes?

WOMAN: I think the man next to me is a doctor.

JANET: Oh, thank you.  Sir?  Excuse me, sir.  I'm sorry to have to wake you.  Are you a doctor?

DR. BAIRD [with a British accent]: That's right.

JANET: We have a passenger who's very sick, could you come take a look at her?

DR. BAIRD: Yes, yes, of course.

STRYKER: My boy's sick to his stomach.  It's like airsickness, only it's a lot worse.  I've never seen anything like it before.

JANET: Well, this gentleman's a doctor.

DR. BAIRD: I'll be with you in a moment.  Try to keep him as quiet as you can.

STRYKER: All right, but hurry, doctor.

JANET [to Sick Woman]: This gentleman's a doctor, he's going to help you.

DR. BAIRD: May I see your tongue please?

[The Sick Woman quickly sticks her tongue out at Dr. Baird.  Baird shines a penlight in each of her eyes, then presses on her abdomen.]

DR. BAIRD: Is the pain there?

SICK WOMAN: No.

DR. BAIRD: There?

[The Sick Woman nods as she cringes.  Baird gives her a pill out of a small bottle from his bag.]

DR. BAIRD: I'll be back in a minute.

[Baird ushers Janet away from the Sick Woman.]

DR. BAIRD: You'd better tell the Captain, we've got to land as soon as we can.  This woman has to be gotten to a hospital.

JANET: What do you think it is?

DR. BAIRD: Well, I can't be sure yet.  But I know it's serious enough to land at the nearest city with hospital facilities.  Better tell the captain I want to speak to him.

JANET: Certainly.

STRYKER [holding a blanket]: Put this around you, Joey, it'll keep you warm.

DR. BAIRD: Hello, son.  Sorry you're not feeling well.  Could you put your tongue out please?

[Joey sticks his tongue out at Dr. Baird while Baird shines a penlight in Joey's eyes.]

DR. BAIRD: What's he had to eat in the last 24 hours?

ELLEN: Oh, just the usual things.  Bacon and poached eggs for breakfast, a roast beef sandwich at noon, and, uh, dinner on the plane.

DR. BAIRD [handing her a couple of pills]: Well, these should help him.

ELLEN: Thank you.

DR. BAIRD: I'll be back in a minute.

[The First Officer mops his sweaty brow again, while the Captain is with Dr. Baird in the passenger cabin.]

DR. BAIRD: Captain, how soon can we land?

CAPTAIN: Can't.

DR. BAIRD: Why?

CAPTAIN: Weather conditions.  Fog has closed down everything this side of the mountains.  We'll have to go through to Vancouver.

DR. BAIRD: But is that faster than turning back?

CAPTAIN: Yes, we've passed the point of no return.

DR. BAIRD: Well, how soon do you expect to land?

CAPTAIN: About, uh, 2:15 Pacific time, roughly ... four hours from now.

DR. BAIRD: Well, I'll just have to do what I can.

[The plane rocks dangerously back-and-forth.  The First Officer is unconscious, leaning on the control yoke.]

CAPTAIN: Get him out of there!

[Baird pulls the First Officer out of his seat as the Captain regains control.]

CAPTAIN: What is it, doctor?  What's happening?

DR. BAIRD: There's a common denominator to these attacks, there's got to be!  Most likely thing is food.  What was it we had for dinner?

JANET: Well, the main course was meat or fish.

DR. BAIRD: Yes, yes, I remember, I had meat.  What did he have?

JANET: Fish.

DR. BAIRD: And the two sick passengers?

JANET: Well, the little boy had fish; I don't remember about the woman.

DR. BAIRD: Well, find out quickly, please.

[Janet approaches a PASSENGER WITH SICK WIFE.  (Not the same wife as the Sick Woman in previous scenes.)]

JANET: Yes?

PASSENGER: Oh, stewardess, my wife is very sick, can you do something please?

JANET: Oh, well, the doctor will be with you in just a moment.  One thing ... do you know what she had for dinner?

PASSENGER: Oh, yes, of course, we both had fish.  Why?

JANET: Oh, it's nothing to be alarmed about.  We'll get back to you very quickly.

[Dr. Baird is still in the cockpit]

DR. BAIRD: We'll need ambulances standing by, and the hospital should be notified.  They have to have special equipment ready.

CAPTAIN: Right.

DR. BAIRD: Is there any chance at all of landing near Calgary?

CAPTAIN: None.

JANET: Doctor, the woman ate fish too, and there are two more cases and they ate fish.

DR. BAIRD: Well, now we know what we're facing.  Find out everybody on the plane who had fish and help me get medicine to them.  Captain, you better notify Vancouver to put a ban on serving any food from the source that furnished that fish.

CAPTAIN: Doctor?

DR. BAIRD: Yes?

CAPTAIN: I just remembered something.  I ate fish too.

[Joey is so sick that he accidentally breaks the toy DC-4 the captain gave him.  It's a haunting metaphor for the impending crash of the real plane, or something.]

JANET: Oh, darling.  Oh, here, sweetheart.  ... Try to stay covered, Joey; I know it hurts, darling, but your father's just gone for the doctor.

PLANE PASSENGER [male]: Stewardess, what's going on?

JANET: Just keep your seat.  Please.

STRYKER: Joey's worse.  I've got to see the doctor.

JANET: Oh, he'll be with you in a minute.  Several people are ill.  We're doing all we can.

STRYKER: What's the matter?  Does he know what it is?

JANET: You better talk to him.

TONY: Can I help?

JANET: Oh, yes, Tony, would you help me give out the medicine?

TONY: Sure.

CAPTAIN: Calgary radio, this is 714.  We're in trouble.  We've got to have all altitudes below us cleared, and priority approach and landing at Vancouver.  Go ahead.

CALGARY RADIO DISPATCHER: Stand by, 714.  [picks up phone] Air traffic control Vancouver, priority message.  Calgary radio for Vancouver dispatcher, holding.  This is cross-Canada Calgary radio, flight 714 notifies emergency.  Wants all lower altitudes cleared, priority approach and landing.  Holding.  [presses button] Flight 714 notifies emergency.

[A VANCOUVER ASSISTANT pins a DC-4-shaped map tack onto a wall map, representing Flight 714's position.  The VANCOUVER FLIGHT DISPATCHER is on the phone with the control tower.]

VANCOUVER FLIGHT DISPATCHER [on the phone]: Hold all takeoffs.  That's right, I don't want another plane in the air.  I don't care what the commitments are.  Charter flight 714 is in trouble.  Food poisoning.  I can't go into detail now, but it's coming in without a copilot.  That's what I said.  The copilot's unconscious, and there's a chance the food poisoning will strike the Captain too.

VANCOUVER ASSISTANT: What about that Air Force Northstar, just reported at eighteen thousand?

VANCOUVER FLIGHT DISPATCHER: Tower, when the Northstar reports, bring it straight in.  And clear green airway one.  Yeah.  I'll let you know the minute anything happens.  [hangs up]

VANCOUVER ASSISTANT: You don't really believe there's a chance of that, do ya?  The Captain getting sick, I mean?

VANCOUVER FLIGHT DISPATCHER: You read the message.  This is going to be a real sweat.  Let's take this in to Burdick.

[HARRY BURDICK is in another room with lots of teletype noise going on in the background.]

BURDICK: Put out a general bulletin to suspend all meal service on nonscheduled flights out of Winnipeg.  And try to keep everyone out of this area.  We don't want a mob out here.  What's the latest on the weather at Calgary?

BURDICK'S ASSISTANT: Closed right down.  Low stratus and ground fog.  So are Edmonton and Lethbridge.

BURDICK: You workin' them direct?

VANCOUVER RADIO DISPATCHER: No, through Calgary.

BURDICK: All right, get a message through.  Ask 'em if they've got a doctor on board.  And tell them we're getting the best possible medical advice here.  Get me Dr. Davis; you'll find his home number in the emergency list.  Then get me the police.  I want the weather on every kind of landing field on their side of the mountains.  You understand?  Anyplace where there's a chance to land this plane.

BURDICK'S ASSISTANT: No dice.  Calgary's run that check.  There's fog down to the deck everywhere east of the Rockies.  They'll have to come through.

BURDICK: How long ago did Calgary talk to Captain Wilson?

VANCOUVER RADIO DISPATCHER: About ten minutes.

BURDICK: Is he still feeling all right?

VANCOUVER RADIO DISPATCHER: Hasn't affected him at all, so far.

BURDICK: He's gotta fight it off.

[Dr. Baird injects the Captain with a hypodermic needle to the tune of a dramatic background-music sting.]

DR. BAIRD: The morphine should help you hold it off.  Do you still feel all right?

CAPTAIN: Yeah.

DR. BAIRD: Well, there's seldom any logic to these things, you might not be affected at all.

CAPTAIN: How're the people back there?

DR. BAIRD: We'll take care of them all right.  You're sure there's no possibility of the weather clearing long enough for us to land before we start over the mountains?

CAPTAIN: Not a chance.

DR. BAIRD: I'd better get back.  I think I'll tell them all what's causing the trouble, if you'll agree.

CAPTAIN: Go ahead. ... Doctor?  I'm glad you're here.

[Dr. Baird walks into the passenger cabin to spill the beans.]

DR. BAIRD: May I have your attention, please?  My name is Baird; I'm a doctor.  As you know, some of the passengers are sick.  We suspect that the fish which was served for dinner might have been contaminated.  No cause for alarm.  Even if you had fish for dinner, you might not be affected.  But if you did have fish, we'll tell you what to do.

STRYKER: The boy's in an awful lot of pain.  Can you do anything for him?

DR. BAIRD: He'll be asleep before long.  Keep him quiet and warm, that's your job.

STRYKER: What's going on up there?  I think I have a right to know.

DR. BAIRD: Don't worry, everything's all right.

JOEY: Dad, don't leave me.

STRYKER: I won't, Joey.

JANET: Pardon me, Mr. Whitmond, did you have meat or fish for dinner?

WHITMOND: I had the blinkin' fish!

JANET: Well, here, take these pills, they'll make you sick.

WHITMOND: Fine how-do-you-do this is!  They give you your dinner, then come around and ask for it back!

[The plane rocks and a buzzer sounds.  Janet picks up the intercom phone.]

JANET: Captain?  Captain Wilson?! [hangs up] Quickly, it's the Captain.

[Baird and Janet march to the cockpit accompanied by ominous music.  Inside, the Captain is doubled over in pain.]

JANET: Bill!

CAPTAIN: You've gotta give me something so I can hold out 'til we land!  You understand?  The automatic pilot'll fly itself on this course, but I've gotta take it in!

[Baird pulls the Captain out of the pilot's seat.]

JANET: Oh, watch the controls!

DR. BAIRD: I know.  Get a blanket!  We've gotta keep him warm.

JANET: Doctor, can you do it?  Can you help him make a landing?

DR. BAIRD: Stewardess ... what's your first name?

JANET: Janet.

DR. BAIRD: Well, Janet, you're a member of this crew.  Can you face some unpleasant facts?

JANET: I think so.

DR. BAIRD: All right.  Unless I can get all these people to a hospital quickly, I can't even be sure of saving their lives.

JANET: I don't understand.  What is it?

DR. BAIRD: Why, something toxic in that food tonight, some kind of bacteria poisoning.

JANET: But how did it get in there?

DR. BAIRD: There are hundreds of ways, that's not important now.  What is important — these people need hospital facilities.  Stimulants.  Intravenous treatment for shock.

JANET: But the pilots ... how're we gonna land?

DR. BAIRD: Is there anyone else on board who can land this plane?

JANET: There's no one on board from the airline, I don't know of anybody else.

DR. BAIRD: How many passengers are there?

JANET: Thirty-eight.

DR. BAIRD: I think you ought to know what our chances are.  The life of everybody aboard depends on just one thing: Finding someone back there who not only can fly this plane, but who didn't have fish for dinner.

JANET: Well, I suppose I better begin asking.

DR. BAIRD: Wait.  I don't want the passengers to know yet; it might start a panic.

JANET: Well, what am I going to tell them?

DR. BAIRD: Tell them, uh ... tell them the First Officer is sick, and the Captain wondered if there's someone with flying experience who can help with the radio.  Do you understand, Janet?

JANET: Yes, doctor.

[Dissolve to scene of plane continuing to fly along.  Miraculously, the plane we're shown this time only has two engines.  Perhaps flight 714's two outboard engines fell off or something.]

JANET [to Stryker]: Excuse me.  The first officer is ill, and, and the Captain would like someone with flying experience to help him with the radio.  Do you know anything about planes?

STRYKER: Well, I flew in the war ... but that was a long time ago.  I wouldn't know anything about it.

JANET: Would you go up, please?

[He does.]

STRYKER: The stewardess said —

[dramatic music as he sees the two empty pilot seats]

STRYKER: Both pilots?!

DR. BAIRD: Can you fly this airplane and land it?

STRYKER: No.  Not a chance.

JANET: Doctor, I've asked everyone.  Mister Stryker's the only one.

DR. BAIRD: What flying experience have you had?

STRYKER: Well, I was a fighter pilot in the war, but I flew little combat planes with only one engine.  This has four.  There's no comparison.  The flying characteristics are completely different.  It's a different kind of flying, altogether.  Besides, I haven't touched any kind of a plane in ten years.

DR. BAIRD: Mister Stryker, I know nothing about flying.  All I know is this.  You're the only person on this plane who can possibly fly it.  You're the only chance we've got.

STRYKER: Are you sure?  What about the pilots?  You're a doctor, can't you do something?

DR. BAIRD: Unless I can get all these people to a hospital quickly, I can't be sure of saving their lives.  ... And Mr. Stryker, the same thing is true of your son.

STRYKER: How long can they stay alive without help?

DR. BAIRD: Two hours.  Two-and-a-half, at the most.

[Stryker checks his wristwatch; it reads 12:37.  Stryker dramatically approaches the pilot's seats and gazes across the acres and acres of flight instruments.  Through the front windows, the windshield wipers are seen running.  Stryker sits down.]

STRYKER: What're you gonna tell the people back there?

DR. BAIRD: Nothing yet.

STRYKER: Better tell my wife something, she's expecting me back.

DR. BAIRD: Well, she must be brought up here, she'll have to know about this.  Janet, you'd better go and get her.

JANET: Yes.

STRYKER: Wait, what about our boy?

JANET: Oh, I'll see that he's taken care of.

[As she leaves, Stryker begins scrutinizing the instruments.]

STRYKER: Let's see ... altitude, ten thousand feet ... level flight ... airspeed, one forty knots ... course two nine zero ... we're on automatic pilot, thankful for that ... prop controls, two thousand RPM ... trim ... mixture ... landing gear ... flaps; should be an indicator somewhere — there it is ... oh, I'll need a checklist for landing.  Maybe we can get that on the radio.  Doctor, did they say anything about the weather?

DR. BAIRD: Well, the Captain said we were near Calgary, but we couldn't land because of bad weather.

STRYKER: Fog?

DR. BAIRD: Yeah, it's closed down everything around here.  Said we'd have to go through to Vancouver.

STRYKER: Across the mountains.

DR. BAIRD: That's right.

STRYKER: What about Vancouver?  Is it clear at Vancouver?

DR. BAIRD: I think it will be by the time we get there.  It's got to be.

[Baird says a few more words to Stryker, but we can't hear them because the scene is shown from the outside, looking in through the windows with the running windshield wipers.  Janet re-enters the cockpit with Ellen.]

ELLEN: Ted, what are you doing?  You can't fly this plane!

STRYKER: That's what I've been trying to tell these people, Ellen.  But they seem to have other ideas.

DR. BAIRD: Mrs. Stryker, I haven't time to put this gently, so I'll be very direct.  Both pilots are sick.  Everyone on this plane is in a desperate situation.  Yes, including your son.  Your husband is the only hope we've got.

ELLEN: But he's —

DR. BAIRD: If we're going to come through this, he's gonna need some faith from all of us.  Including you.  Do I make myself clear, Mrs. Stryker?

ELLEN: I understand.

STRYKER: I'm gonna need someone to help me up here, to work the radio and a few other things.  You're the only one of the crew left, stewardess.

DR. BAIRD: I need her with the passengers.

STRYKER: Then get someone else.

DR. BAIRD: Well, the fewer people know about this, the better.  Mrs. Stryker, you better stay with your husband.

ELLEN: But Joey's still sick!

DR. BAIRD: No, you can do more up here.  I'll look after your boy.

STRYKER: He's right, Ellen.  Get in this seat and strap yourself in, will ya?

ELLEN: Ted, I don't know anything about all this.

STRYKER: [shrugs] We're starting even.

DR. BAIRD: Well, I'm going back now.

STRYKER: Oh, stewardess!  You must have watched the pilots a lot.  Do you know how the radio works?  They've added a lot of gizmos since I did any flying.

JANET: It's the panel down here they use, I know that.

STRYKER: Where's the VHF?

JANET: They, they do something with that thing up there.

STRYKER: That's the frequency selector.  We'd better leave that where it is.

JANET: Oh, but they do something with the little knob.

STRYKER: Oh, that's it, transmit.  [turns a flip-up lever on an overhead panel]  This is flight 714, isn't it?

JANET: Yes.  I'd better go help the doctor.  Mr. Stryker?

STRYKER: Yes?

JANET: Good luck.

STRYKER: Thanks.  ... Ellen, you'd better put on that other headset.  I'm not gonna try to kid you, Ellen; this is gonna be tough.  So, if you wanna go back with the others ...

ELLEN: I'll stay.

STRYKER: All right.  Let's see, what do I do now?  Call mayday, I guess.

ELLEN: What does that mean?

STRYKER: It's a pilot's call for help when he's up against it.  Takes precedence over anything else.  Here goes.  [to microphone] Mayday, mayday, mayday.  This is cross-Canada charter, flight, flight 714, in distress.  Come in, anyone!

CARGARY RADIO DISPATCHER: Seven one four, this is Calgary radio, pass your message.  [to phone] Calgary to all stations, 714 called mayday.  Frequency 126.7 now closed to all other traffic.

STRYKER: My name is Ted Stryker, I'm a passenger on this airplane.  Correction, I was a passenger.

CALGARY STATION MANAGER: Where are the pilots?

STRYKER: Both pilots are seriously ill.

CALGARY RADIO DISPATCHER: Fading!

CALGARY STATION MANAGER [to phone]: Vancouver, this is Calgary.  We're getting a mayday from 714.  It's coming in now.  Right!  [presses two buttons] Winnipeg, are you on the line?  714 called mayday.  No details yet, get Ballard.  Hold, please.

CALGARY RADIO DISPATCHER [to phone]: 714 called mayday, stand by.

GUY IN WINNIPEG OFFICE: 714 called mayday!  Clear everything and hold all traffic.

BALLARD: Right.

STRYKER: ... and all my flying has been done in single-engine fighters.  And also, I haven't done any flying for ten years.  So what'cha better do is get someone on this radio who can give me instructions in flying this plane, and landing it.  That's the story.  It's your move down there.  [to Ellen] Wanna take a bet that stirred up some excitement?

CARGARY RADIO DISPATCHER: Calgary to 714, stand by please.

STRYKER: Okay. ... Well, I guess I'd better get myself oriented.

VANCOUVER FLIGHT DISPATCHER: Tell Calgary to acknowledge and have him stand by.  Tell him we're getting help, we'll be on the air with him as soon as we can.

VANCOUVER ASSISTANT: Winnipeg on the wire, Harry.  Ballard says he knows something about this man Stryker.

BURDICK: [picks up phone] Burdick here.  ... We'll do everything we can.  Yes, I understand.  [hangs up] Get every piece of emergency equipment you can reach, alerted every mile of the way from here to the mountains.  And I want every light you can get, pour it on that field.  Might try praying a little too, they're gonna need it.  Get me Captain Treleaven.  He flew with this man Stryker in the war, Ballard tells me, knows him inside-out.  We've got to have him.  Then get me my office.  How 'bout some coffee, Johnny?  Strong.

VANCOUVER ASSISTANT: Your office, line four.

BURICK: [picks up phone] 's that you, Max?  I want a complete cockpit diagram for a DC-4, and a pre-landing flight check.  I'm in the dispatch office and I want 'em over here fast.  Right.

VANCOUVER FLIGHT DISPATCHER [on phone]: Yeah?  The last ETA we had was 02:15 local time.  We'll want all air traffic cleared from this area.  This guy doing the flying's had no airline experience at all.  He'll be a menace to himself and everything else in the air.  All right, let's work for that.  I'll call ya if there's a change in time.  [hangs up] This is gonna be a late night.

VANCOUVER ASSISTANT: Harry, Captain Treleaven's not in.  I have his babysitter on the phone.

BURDICK: Okay.  Get a police car to pick him up as soon as I locate him.  [to phone] This is the operations manager at the airport.  Now this is very important.  Do you know where Captain Treleaven was going this evening?

[The babysitter is watching John Ashley singing on TV, with the volume turned up full blast.]

BABYSITTER: What did you say?  I can't hear you.

BURDICK: Can you please tell me where Captain Treleaven was going this evening?

BABYSITTER: Just a minute. [turns down TV with one of those wired "remotes" they used to have on TVs in the 1950s] What did you want?

BURDICK: Please!  This is urgent!  Where is Captain Treleaven?

BABYSITTER: Uh ... I ... think they said they were going to the Hotel Vancouver.  Yeah, uh, the Panorama Roof.  Yeah, sure.  Bye.  [hangs up and turns TV back up]

STRYKER: Oh, what's the matter with them down there?  [to radio] Calgary, this is 714, do you have any message for me yet?  Go ahead.

CALGARY RADIO DISPATCHER: Stand by, 714.  Vancouver is doing everything possible.  We'll be calling you very shortly.

STRYKER: Okay.  [to Ellen] Look, Ellen, in a little while I'm gonna be pretty busy in here; you'd better take over the radio from here in.

ELLEN: How will I know what to do?

STRYKER: There's nothing to it.  Just take that microphone, there, that's the one; push that button on the side when you're ready to talk.  I'll tell you what to say.

VANCOUVER FLIGHT DISPATCHER [on phone]: Chief, this is cross-Canada dispatcher.  We have an emergency on flight 714, due here at 02:15 local time.  Maybe a crash landing.  Stand by with everything you've got.  And alert the air force, too.  And will you call the city fire department?  They may wanna move equipment into the area.  Right.  [to assistant] Got city police?

VANCOUVER ASSISTANT: On your line now.

VANCOUVER FLIGHT DISPATCHER: Thanks. [to phone] This is cross-Canada charter.  Who is this please? ... Oh, inspector.  Uh, we're in bad trouble.

[A trumpet player is playing really really loudly in a nightclub dance hall.  A waiter interrupts CAPTAIN MARTIN TRELEAVEN and MRS. TRELEAVEN while they're dancing, to tell Captain Treleaven to take a phone call.  He picks up the phone and looks like he's saying "Captain Treleaven" into the receiver, but the trumpeter is too loud for anything to be heard.]

VANCOUVER FLIGHT DISPATCHER: Have you told the brass yet?

BURDICK: I've got a call in to Montreal now.

VANCOUVER FLIGHT DISPATCHER: They're not gonna like this.

BURDICK: Well, that'd be a real help, won't it?  We've gotta get a statement to the press.  Better get Cliff Howard here to handle it.

VANCOUVER ASSISTANT: Okay, and the Boss's on the line now, number three.

[Stryker and Ellen look out through the cockpit window, again with the windshield wipers running.]

BURDICK [on phone]: No, sir, he isn't qualified, but I've got our senior Captain coming in.  He flew with Stryker in the war.  Of course it's a terrible risk, but can you think of something better?  No, I haven't given any statement to the press; Howard's coming in for that.

VANCOUVER ASSISTANT [as Treleaven enters]: Harry?

BURDICK: An ETA is 0215 Pacific Time.  I've got a lot to do, sir, I'd better get on with it.  I'll call you as soon as I know anything more.  Bye.  [hangs up] Well, that's the whole story, Martin.  Everything we know.

TRELEAVEN: All right, Harry, let's face a few facts.  As you know, I flew with this man Stryker during the war.  What you don't know is, that doesn't make my job any easier here tonight.  Frankly, I think you'd be a lot better off if you got somebody else who doesn't know him at all.

BURDICK: I don't think that has anything to do with it.

TRELEAVEN: It has everything to do with it.  In the first place, I think it's a mistake if he knows that I'm the man who's talkin' 'im in.  He'll have a million things on his mind without being reminded of those days when ... well, when things weren't so good.

BURDICK: Right now, things aren't so good.  And while we're talking, there are 38 lives waiting on us for a decision.

TRELEAVEN: Let me tell you something.  Ted Stryker was a crack flight leader up to a point, but he was one of those men who ... well, let's just say he felt too much inside.  Maybe you know the kind.  Ate his heart out over every name on the casualty list.

BURDICK: Well, what's wrong with that?

TRELEAVEN: I'll tell you what's the matter with that.  He went all to pieces on one particular mission.  I've never felt there was the slightest excuse for it.  The upshot of it all was that ... everything turned sour ... he left some mighty fine men behind him.  Now I may be wrong, I hope I am, but my feeling is that when the going gets really rough upstairs tonight, Ted Stryker's gonna fold up.  That's all I can tell you.

BURDICK: Look, Martin, I want you to get on the horn and talk this guy down, no matter what you think.  Now you're gonna have to let him get the feel of this airplane on the way.  You'll have to give him a landing check.  You'll have to talk him onto the approach.  And so help me, you'll have to talk him right down to the ground.

TRELEAVEN: All right, Burdick, I just want you to know what we have to contend with.  ... Very well, it's settled.  Who's got the cigarettes?

JOHNNY: Here. ... Matches?

TRELEAVEN: Yeah.  Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit smokin'. [lights up]

BURDICK: All right, let's get started.  Can you work 714 direct now?

VANCOUVER RADIO DISPATCHER: Yeah, reception's good, we can take over any time.

BURDICK: Okay.

VANCOUVER RADIO DISPATCHER: Calgary radio, Vancouver radio.  We'll work 714 ourselves now.

CALGARY RADIO DISPATCHER: 714, this is Calgary radio.  Vancouver radio is taking over now and will work you direct.  Keep your transmitter at the same frequency.  714 ... good luck, over.

STRYKER: Thanks, Calgary.  714 standing by for Vancouver.

TRELEAVEN: The one hope we have is to build this man up.  I've got to give him all the confidence I can along with the technical end of it.  If he keeps calm, cool, does what I tell him, we'll bring that plane in.  But above all else, I don't want him to know that I'm as full of doubts as I've got to admit I am.  All right, let's go.  Put Stryker on the speaker.

BURDICK: Okay.  You can use that hand mike there.

VANCOUVER RADIO DISPATCHER: Flight 714, this is Vancouver, can you read?  Go ahead.

STRYKER: [to Ellen] There they are, I'll talk to them first.  [to radio] Yes, Vancouver, we read you.  Go ahead please.

VANCOUVER RADIO DISPATCHER: Okay, Captain, it's all yours.

TRELEAVEN: Hello, flight 714, this is Vancouver.  Stryker ... Stryker, this is Captain Martin Treleaven speaking.  If you read me, go ahead.

STRYKER: [spitefully] Yes Captain Treleaven, I read you loud and clear, go ahead.

TRELEAVEN: All right, it's obvious you remember me, so whadaya say you and I just forget about everything except what we have to do now.  You and I are gonna bring this plane in together.  Before we start, I'd like to say something.  I know that right now things must look pretty rough up there, but if you do what I tell you, when I tell you to do it, there's no reason you can't bring that plane in.

STRYKER: Let's not kid each other, Treleaven.  You know I've never flown a bucket like this, and I haven't been at the controls for over ten years.  I'm going to need all the luck there is, and then some.

TRELEAVEN: All right, Stryker, now you listen to me and you listen close.  You begin thinking that way and we're finished before we start.  Flying a plane is no different than riding a bicycle, it just happens to be something you never forget.  Now, are you still on automatic pilot?  Go ahead.

STRYKER: Yes, we're still on automatic pilot.

TRELEAVEN: Very well.  You just make yourself comfortable up there.  In a minute, I'd like you to disengage the automatic pilot and begin to get the feel of the controls.  But first let me tell you, the controls will feel very heavy compared with a fighter.  Don't worry about that, it's perfectly normal.  You must watch your airspeed closely; don't let it fall below one hundred and twenty.  Now I know you recognize the importance of that, but let me repeat it: under no circumstances must you let that airspeed fall below one hundred and twenty miles per hour.  Now, there's one other thing.  Have you someone up there who can work the radio and leave you free for flying?

STRYKER: Yes, I have a ... a passenger here with me who'll take over the radio.  All right, I'm going to unlock the automatic pilot.

[He does.  The plane's engines ominously change in pitch, despite the fact that real automatic pilots at the time had no effect on throttle or prop-control settings.]

STRYKER [to Ellen]: The radio's all yours now.  Keep your eye on that airspeed.

TRELEAVEN: Listen, I've got a lot of work to do with this man, but we might as well start planning the approach and the landing while there's plenty of time.  Get the chief radar operator up here, will ya?  Tell him I want to talk to him.  [to radio] Hello, Stryker, how ya makin' out?  You got the feel of 'er yet?

STRYKER: Tell him we're on manual now, trying out some shallow turns.

TRELEAVEN: I should've asked you this before — what kind of weather you in up there?

ELLEN [to radio]: Rain.

STRYKER: And a little ice.

ELLEN [to radio]: And a little ice.

TRELEAVEN: Start your deicers working.  The control is on the fuse panel at your left knee.

STRYKER [pressing button] Deicers on.  Tell him we're coming into some heavy cloud, and we'll be on instruments.

TRELEAVEN: How does she handle now, Stryker?

STRYKER: Sluggish, like a wet sponge.

ELLEN [on radio]: Sluggish, like a wet sponge.

TRELEAVEN: Well, as I told you to begin with, that's perfectly natural because you're used to handling smaller airplanes.

BURDICK: The radar chief's on his way up.

TRELEAVEN: Tell 'im to get the lead out.  [to radio] Hello Stryker, watch any violent movement of the controls like you used to make in Spitfires and Mustangs.  If you do move the controls violently you will overcorrect and be in trouble.  Is that clear?  Go ahead.

STRYKER: Tell him I understand.

ELLEN [to radio]: Yes, Vancouver, he understands.

TRELEAVEN: Now I want you to try climbing.  Leave your throttle the way it is, bring your airplane to approach speed which is one hundred and thirty.  That should put you in a very gentle climb, but whatever else you do watch that airspeed closely.

[Stryker pulls back on the control wheel.  The altimeter whizzes upward from 7600 feet to 9000 feet in less that three seconds, which corresponds to a climb rate of around 30,000 feet per minute — hardly what you'd call a gentle climb.  Cut to a shot of the artifical horizon indicator, which suddenly shows almost-level flight.]

PANICKED WOMAN: Oh, we're going to crash, I know we are!

JANET: Please, miss, try to be calm.

TONY: The doctor'll be here in moment.  See?  We've levelled out again.  We'll be all right now.

JANET [to Whitmond]: How are you feeling now?

WHITMOND: I feel terrible.  I didn't need those pills to make me sick.  And never mind tonight's dinner; right now I'm working on yesterday's breakfast.

JANET: Would you keep him covered, Mrs. Summers?

TONY [to Joey]: Hi, Joey, how's the boy?  Your stomach still hurt?  Say, you know, Paddy's been askin' about you.  Paddy!  Hey, Paddy [takes out glove puppet] there he is.  Hiya, Paddy!  Say, you know, he doesn't look so good either.  Paddy, lemme see your tongue.  Now come on, lemme see your tongue, come on now!

[Paddy sticks out his thumb.]

TONY: Ooh, you know, I've seen it look better.  Paddy, why don't you stay right here with Joey, and he'll take good care of you.

PADDY: Hokay.

TONY: Okay.  [starts to take off glove puppet] There y' are.  I'll just take you off here, and you take good care of him, Joey.  Put it right in there.  Oh, that's good, now lift your hand up there, and I'll show you how to do it.  Hey, how are ya, Paddy?

PADDY [on Joey's hand]: Fine.

TONY: Heh!  Okay, you two try to get some sleep, all right?  We'll be there before you know it.  Okay, Joey.

[In the Vancouver dispatch office, the clock on the wall reads 1:12.]

TRELEAVEN: As soon as he shows up on your radar, you can feed me the information and I'll relay it.

VANCOUVER RADAR CONTROLLER: How about the final approach?

TRELEAVEN: We'll handle that the same way.  As soon as you have him in the scope and he's steady on the course, we'll move to the tower.  You report up there, we'll decide on the runway and plan the final approach.  Understood?

VANCOUVER RADAR CONTROLLER: Yes sir.

STRYKER: Tell him we're on top of the clouds at eleven thousand feet, levelled off.

ELLEN [to radio]: We're now on top of the clouds at eleven thousand feet, and we are levelled off.

TRELEAVEN: What is your present heading, Stryker?

STRYKER: Tell him the compass is still about two nine zero.

ELLEN [to radio]: The compass is still at two nine zero.

TRELEAVEN: All right, try to stay on that heading.  You may be a few miles off course, but we can correct that easily when you get in radar range.  Right now, I want you to feel how the ship handles at lower speeds when the flaps and the gear are down.  But don't do anything until I give you the word, is that understood?  Go ahead.

ELLEN: Yes, we understand, Vancouver.

TRELEAVEN: All right, Stryker, the first thing is to throttle back slightly, get your airspeed steady at one twenty, and then tell me when you're ready.  [to Burdick] Keep your fingers crossed.

STRYKER: Ellen, what's the airspeed?  You'll have to call it off when we land, so you may as well start practicing now.

ELLEN: One forty, one thirty-five, one thirty, one twenty-five, one twenty, one fifteen, one ten — that's too low!  He said a hundred and twenty!

STRYKER: I know!  I know, watch it!

ELLEN: One fifteen, one twenty ... one twenty-five, one twenty, steady at one twenty.

STRYKER: Tell them.

ELLEN [to radio]: Hello, our airspeed is now steady at one twenty.

TRELEAVEN: Now, Stryker, I want you to put down twenty degrees of flap.  Be careful not to make it any more.  The flap handle is on the lower right-hand side of the control pedestal; 20 degrees will mean moving the handle down to the second notch.

STRYKER: You'll have to put the flaps down, Ellen.  There's the handle there.

TRELEAVEN: Can you see the flap indicator, Stryker?  It's near the center of the main panel.

STRYKER: There's the indicator he's talking about.  When I tell you, put the handle down two notches.  And watch that indicator.

ELLEN: All right.

STRYKER: Tell them we're going to put the flaps down now.

ELLEN [to radio]: We're going to put the flaps down now.

TRELEAVEN: Okay, 714, go ahead with your flaps.  Then, when they're down, get your airspeed steady at one twenty, adjust your trim, and call me once again.

STRYKER: Twenty degrees of flap, Ellen.

ELLEN: All right.

[The flap indicator whirs down to the 20 degree mark.]

ELLEN [to radio]: The flaps are down, and the airspeed is steady at one twenty.

TRELEAVEN: All right, Stryker, the next thing is to drop your gear, and then you'll have the feel of the ship as it'll be when you're landing.  Are you still in level flight?  [aside] By any remote chance!

STRYKER: More or less. ... Ask him about the prop controls and the mixture.

ELLEN [to radio]: Vancouver, what about prop controls and the mixture?

TRELEAVEN: [aside] Well, at least he's thinkin', anyway.  [to radio] Uh, never mind that for the time being, Stryker.  Just concentrate on holding that airspeed steady with your flaps and gear down.

STRYKER: Okay, Ellen, put the gear down.  Call off that airspeed.

[The landing gear peeks forth from the DC-4's fuselage.  The nose gear and main gear all swing down and backwards.]

TRELEAVEN: Okay, Stryker your gear should be down by now.  Look for three green lights to show you that it's locked.  Also, there's a hydraulic pressure gauge just above the three green lights, and that needle should be in the green range.

STRYKER: Three green lights ... pressure's up.  Tell him the gear and the flaps are down, and she still handles like a wet sponge, only moreso.

ELLEN [to radio]: The gear and the flaps are down now, but ... he says that she still handles like a wet sponge, only moreso.

[The clock on the wall behind Treleaven now reads 1:17.]

TRELEAVEN: You'll get used to that.  Now, I'm going to give you instructions for holding your altitude and airspeed steady while you raise the landing gear and flaps.  Then we'll run through the whole thing again.

STRYKER: Again?!  [picks up radio] Look, Treleaven, I'm giving you all I've got the first time, so don't expect me to sit up here and go through a lot of dry runs.

TRELEAVEN: Are you going to bring that plane in alone, or could you still use a little help?!

BURDICK: Ease up, Martin!

TRELEAVEN: All right, Stryker, get ahold of yourself.  We don't have long to go now. [to Burdick] Sorry.

[Lightning and thunder flash outside the cockpit window.  Stryker gets lost in more flashbacks.]

ELLEN: Ted, the speed!  Look at the speed, Ted!  We're falling!  Ted, we're falling!

STRYKER: Get the gear up!  Get the gear up!

ELLEN: The mountains, Ted, the mountains!

[Ellen screams as Ted barely clears the top of the Rockies.  The panicked woman from the earlier scene smashes her fist onto one of those "in case of emergency break glass" thingies covering the exit door release handle.]

PANICKED WOMAN: Gotta get out of here!  I gotta get out!

[Her hand is bleeding.  Tony comes to bind it.]

PANICKED WOMAN: I gotta get out of here!  I gotta get out of here!

TONY: Quiet!

[The same plane passenger that bugged Janet about what was going on several minutes ago now opens the cockpit door and looks in.]

PLANE PASSENGER [male]: Look!  He isn't a pilot!

DR. BAIRD [to all passengers]: Now you know.  Mister Stryker is the only person on board who can fly this plane.  Was a pilot in the war, and we can all help him by not getting in a panic.  Now we all know there are dangers involved, but is there anyone here who'd like to take his place?

VANCOUVER RADIO DISPATCHER: They've faded out completely.

BURDICK: Aren't you getting anything?

VANCOUVER RADIO DISPATCHER: Seven one four, seven one four!

ELLEN: [to radio] Hello, Vancouver?  Vancouver?  [to Stryker] Ted, I can't get an answer, I think the radio's dead.

STRYKER: It can't be dead!

ELLEN: [to radio] Hello!  Vancouver!  Vancouver, come in, please!  This is flight 714!  [to Stryker] There's nothing!

STRYKER: Wait a minute.  The radio must've been knocked off frequency.  [fiddles with radio knob] Do you remember where it was?

ELLEN: Oh, no, I didn't see it!  [to radio] Hello, come in Vancouver, please!  This is flight 714!

BURDICK: Get Captain Wilson's wife for me.  And you'd better call the First Officer's home, and the stewardess's.

TRELEAVEN: Keep tryin', will ya?

VANCOUVER RADIO DISPATCHER: Seven one four!  Seven one four!

STRYKER: You getting anything yet?

ELLEN: No.  What are we going to do?

STRYKER: Just keep trying!

ELLEN [to radio]: Hello, Vancouver!  Come in, please!

[Stryker fiddles with the radio knob again.  We hear some faint morse code, consistent with a modern VOR, but no voice transmissions.  Meanwhile, little Joey moans weakly, and Stryker keeps turning the knob.  In Vancouver, a guy wearing a hat and trenchcoat, who looks like he's also wearing one of those novelty nose-and-glasses with the moustache, leads two REPORTERS into the room.]

GUY WITH HAT AND GLASSES: Harry, they won't leave without a statement from you.

REPORTER #1: You've got a runaway plane loose up there, that's what it comes down to, doesn't it?

REPORTER #2: The fact is, this plane could crash anywhere in the city — into homes, factories, anywhere!  Isn't that true?

BURDICK: Right now, we can't be sure of anything.  We're doing everything we can.

[Dissolve to the clock on the wall reading 1:40.  The guys in the Vancouver dispatch office nervously listen to the radio speaker, on which they hear nothing but static.  It looks like the radio dispatcher also picked the wrong week to quit smokin'.]

VANCOUVER RADIO DISPATCHER: Repeating.  714, this is Vancouver.  Vancouver calling 714.

[Stryker keeps turning the radio knob.  He hears "Flight 714, come in" faintly and keeps turning the knob clockwise, and finally:]

VANCOUVER RADIO DISPATCHER: Flight 714, this is Vancouver.  Do you hear me?  Come in, please!

STRYKER [to radio]: Vancouver!  Vancouver, we're reading you again!  Come in, please!

TRELEAVEN: What happened, are you all right?

STRYKER: We stalled.  The radio went off, but we're all right now.  We're climbing.

TRELEAVEN: All right, Stryker, here's what you must do next.  Take a look at your fuel tank gauges, give me their exact reading.

BURDICK: Can't take much more of this.  Johnny, how 'bout some more coffee?

[A phone rings in Captain Bill Wilson's bedroom in Vancouver.  His wife, MRS. JOAN WILSON, answers it.]

MRS. WILSON: Hello?

JOHN ARNOLD: Mrs. Wilson?

MRS. WILSON: Yes, this is Mrs. Wilson.

JOHN ARNOLD: This is John Arnold, calling from the airport.  There's some trouble on your husband's flight.  We don't know yet how serious it is, but Harry Ballard [sic!] thought you'd want to get down here right away.

MRS. WILSON: Yes, I — I'll be there right away!

ELLEN: Captain Wilson hasn't come out of it at all.  None of them have.  And Joey's worse!

STRYKER: [looking at wristwatch] Vancouver, we've got to start down, now!

TRELEAVEN: Not just yet.  We'll have you on radar any second now.

[The radar dish sweeps around in a 360 degree arc in the rain.]

TRELEAVEN: I don't understand it.  He should've been in range ten minutes ago.

BURDICK: Well, don't forget, he lost a lotta time.  We don't know how far off course he went.  [to microphone] Radar, you getting anything?

VANCOUVER RADAR CONTROLLER: Hold it, hold it a minute.  This may be something coming up.  Yeah, I have him now!  He's ten miles south of course.  Tell him to turn right onto a heading of three zero five.

TRELEAVEN: Nice work.  [to radio] Uh, Stryker, we have you on radar now.  You're off course ten miles to the south.  Please turn right onto a new heading of three zero five.  Then when you're ready, start losing altitude.

[Stryker does.]

STRYKER: Tell him we're on the new course, and ready now to lose altitude.

ELLEN [to radio]: Hello, Vancouver, we're now on the new course and ready to lose altitude.

TRELEAVEN: All right, throttle back slightly, but hold your airspeed steady until you're losing altitude at one hundred feet a minute.  Watch your instruments closely, you'll have to trust them all the way.

BURDICK: How long you figure before the landing?

TRELEAVEN: I dunno.  With luck, about, I would say, thirty minutes?  Harry, call the tower, will ya?  Tell 'em we may need a double emergency crew on this one.  Make sure those hospital units are standing by.  Get me the fire department and the city police.

[Sirens blare through the streets of Vancouver.  A VANCOUVER POLICEMAN wearing an eye patch points to a map divided off like a Tangram puzzle.]

VANCOUVER POLICEMAN: Also, I want all traffic blocked off from this airport.  Now, here are the runways.  We have apartment buildings here, there, and there.  Actually, what we'll have to do is alert the entire area.  So contact all fire departments, emergency equipment, the works.  There's no telling where this plane might come down.

[A reporter walks into his editor's office with two placards that look like the front pages of the Vancouver Herald.]

REPORTER: Here are the banner sheets.  We're ready to roll either way.

[The first placard reads, "AIRLINE DISASTER HERE".  The second reads, "38 AIRLINE PASSENGERS SURVIVE MID-AIR PERIL".]

ELLEN: Ted, I'd like to go back and see Joey again for just a minute.

STRYKER: Okay.  This would be a good time, she's holding fairly steady right now.

[Ellen walks to her son with a pained expression on her face.]

ELLEN: Doctor, how is he?

DR. BAIRD: I won't deceive you, Mrs. Stryker, we're running out of time.  How soon do you think we'll be landing?

ELLEN: Well, I really don't know, but ... we're getting close.

DR. BAIRD: Well, I'd better go and talk to your husband.

[Baird walks toward the cockpit while Ellen comforts a moaning Joey.]

ELLEN: Please, God!

DR. BAIRD: Will the hospital equipment be at the airport?

STRYKER: Yes, everything they've got.

VANCOUVER RADIO DISPATCHER: The Captain wants to talk to the stewardess.

STRYKER: They want to talk to the stewardess.

DR. BAIRD: I'll get her.

ELLEN: 'Scuse me, doctor.

STRYKER: [to radio] 714, stand by.  [to Ellen] How is 'e?

ELLEN: Still unconscious.  Doctor says everybody —

STRYKER: I know.  He told me.  [resolutely] Ellen, we're going to make it.  You've got to believe that.  ... They want to talk to you, stewardess, there's a headset there.

JANET: I got it.

VANCOUVER RADIO DISPATCHER: They've got the stewardess.

TRELEAVEN: All right, what's the girl's name?

VANCOUVER RADIO DISPATCHER: Janet Turner.

TRELEAVEN [to radio]: How are you, Janet?  This is Captain Treleaven here.  Janet, when we make this landing, I want you to use emergency crash procedures for protection of passengers, understand?

JANET: Tell him I understand.

ELLEN [to radio]: Yes, she understands.

TRELEAVEN: That's fine.  Just before the landing, I'll ask the pilot to ring the emergency bell.  Now, the button for that bell is right over the copilot's seat.

JANET: There it is.

STRYKER: You see it, Ellen?  Remember it.

TRELEAVEN: That'll be your warning for final precautions.

STRYKER: Oh, stewardess?

JANET: Yes?

STRYKER: Are the pilots strapped to seats?

JANET: Yes.

STRYKER: Good luck back there.

JANET: We'll be ready.

VANCOUVER RADAR CONTROLLER: Twenty-nine miles from the field ... turn left onto three zero zero.

TRELEAVEN: All right, Stryker, change your heading slightly, turn left onto three zero zero.  What is your altitude?

STRYKER: Altitude is two thousand five hundred.

BURDICK: Bad news.  The fog is getting thicker.

TRELEAVEN: Ah, there's nothing we can do about that.  Tell the tower to light up.  Put on everything they've got.  We'll be comin' up there in a minute, I'll want their radio on the same frequency as this.  Stryker won't have time to fool around changing channels.

[The panicked woman slaps Janet and screams something incomprehensible.  One of them screams "Let me go!"]

JANET: I'm trying to help you!

TONY: All right, leave her to me.  [shakes panicked woman] All right, now listen to me, listen!  Calm down!  Relax!

[Janet sobs]

TONY: Come on, now.

JANET: Oh, Tony, I'm all right, it's just ... everything at once.

TONY [pouring her a cup of coffee]: Here, drink this; come on, drink it.

JANET: Mmm!  Remind me never to travel this airline again, they have terrible coffee.

TONY: I'll get you the best coffee in Vancouver just as soon as we land.

JANET: Tony, I'm sorry about what I said to you before —

TONY: Ah, forget it.

JANET: You know, honestly, I couldn't have done it without you.

TONY: You know, I'd like it to go on that way ... for at least the next hundred years.

JANET: Oh, me too!

TRELEAVEN: Stryker, you are now approximately nine minutes from the airport.  Are you ready to begin your final descent?

STRYKER: Tell him we're on top of the overcast, nothing but fog below.  Not a break in it anywhere.

ELLEN [to radio]: Vancouver, we're on top of the overcast.  There's not a break in it anywhere.

TRELEAVEN: [to Burdick] You know, this'd be a tough landing for anybody to make.  Maybe if we hold him off for a bit we'll get a break in the weather.  [to radio] All right, Stryker, you better stay up there for a bit.  Keep circling.  We got everything else out of the air so you won't have too much trouble.  As soon as the fog lifts, we'll bring you in.

STRYKER: I'll take it, Ellen.  [to radio] No dice, Vancouver.  I'm coming straight in now.  Doctor Baird says the sick people are in critical condition, and every minute counts.

TRELEAVEN: Don't be a fool, Stryker!  You know what a landing like this means, you more than anybody!

STRYKER: That's right.  But we've got to come in.

BURDICK: But he can't!  Tell 'im he's gotta stay up there!

TRELEAVEN: [to Burdick] Let's face it, Harry, there's nothing we can do about it.  [to radio] All right, Stryker, level off at two thousand feet and wait for instructions.  I'm going to the tower now, so you won't hear from me for a bit.  We'll decide on the runway to use at the last minute, so you can land into the wind.

BURDICK: But he can't bring it down in this soup!  It's a hundred-to-one anyway!

TRELEAVEN: I know, I know, but it's his ship now, his command!.  [to radio] Stand by, Stryker, I'm going to the tower.  And good luck.

BURDICK: [to phone] We're on the way up now.

[Stryker still can't see through the fog.  Burdick and Treleaven enter the control tower through a glass door that says "AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY" in backwards letters.]

TRELEAVEN: Decide on the runway yet?

VANCOUVER CONTROL MAN: Runway nine.  It's the longest, and pretty well into the wind.

TRELEAVEN: Radar.

VANCOUVER RADAR CONTROLLER: Yes, Captain.

TRELEAVEN: This is the way we'll handle it.  Right now, he's here.  I'll turn him so he begins to make a wide right-hand circle, at the same time bring him down to a thousand feet.  I'll start the pre-landing check here, then have him make a slow turn onto final.  Is that clear?

VANCOUVER RADAR CONTROLLER: Yeap.

TRELEAVEN: The phone hook up to radar?

VANCOUVER CONTROL MAN: Right there, sir.

TRELEAVEN: How do I talk to the field?

VANCOUVER CONTROL MAN: Uh, just flip that speaker on, sir.

[Treleaven does.]

TRELEAVEN: Tower to all emergency vehicles.  Runway is nine.  Airport tenders take positions number 1 and 2, civilian equipment number 3, Air Force positions number 4 and 5.  All ambulances to position 3.  [to radio] 714, this is Treleaven in Vancouver tower, are you ready to line up for the landing?

STRYKER: Okay, Vancouver, we're ready.

MRS. WILSON: Harry?

TRELEAVEN: Got a cigarette, Nels?

BURDICK: Joan, I thought you'd like to know the latest.  Now, your husband and the others are alive, but unconscious.  Now there's a good chance we can save them, if Stryker can get this plane down in time.

MRS. WILSON: That isn't really much of a chance, is it?

BURDICK: It's the only one we've got.

VANCOUVER RADAR CONTROLLER: Eight miles.  Turn right to heading zero eight zero.

TRELEAVEN: Stryker, after this message do not acknowledge any further transmissions unless you want to ask a question.  You are now eight miles from the airport, turn right to a heading of zero eight zero, throttle back slightly and begin to lose altitude to one thousand feet.

DR. BAIRD: I just want to tell you both, good luck, I'll keep your son with me.

ELLEN: Thank you.

STRYKER: Thanks, doctor.

DR. BAIRD: Right.

TRELEAVEN: Hold your airspeed steady at one twenty.

STRYKER: Tell him we're at one thousand feet, levelling off.

ELLEN [to radio]: We're now at one thousand feet, and levelling off.

TRELEAVEN: Now set your mixture controls in auto rich, that is in the top position.

STRYKER: Those four levers, Ellen.  Pull 'em all the way up.

[Ellen does.]

TRELEAVEN: All right, Stryker, put down twenty degrees of flap.

STRYKER: 20 degrees of flap, Ellen.

[She places her hand above the flap lever hesitantly, but Stryker presses her hand down onto it and engages the flaps.]

TRELEAVEN: When your flaps are down, re-trim for level flight.

[The plane flies through some clouds, with its engine pitch changing.]

VANCOUVER RADAR CONTROLLER: He's all over the place!  Nine hundred feet up to thirteen hundred feet.

TRELEAVEN: Watch your altitude, Stryker, you're too erratic!  Try to hold steady at one thousand feet.  ... Any break in the fog up there?

STRYKER: No, nothing yet, I can't see a thing.

TRELEAVEN: Keep checking those instruments, you'll have to trust them all the way.

[Stryker has another flashback.  The instruments blur, and he sees the nose cannon of his fighter plane in the artificial horizon gauge.]

VOICE IN FLASHBACK: Close up, stay in formation.  Target's just ahead.  Target should be clear if you go in low enough.  You'll have to decide.

PILOT IN FLASHBACK: Too low, Ted! We're too low!

TRELEAVEN: Stryker!  Stryker, can you hear me?  You've got to keep her up!  Keep her up!  Stryker, get your altitude back, you need a thousand feet!

VANCOUVER RADAR CONTROLLER: He's dropping off fast, almost seven hundred!

TRELEAVEN: Stryker, get back to a thousand feet!

VANCOUVER RADAR CONTROLLER: Captain, he's below seven hundred now, and he's still going down!

TRELEAVEN: Stryker, you can't come straight in, you've got enough fuel left for two hours' flying.  You've got to stay up there 'til we get a break in the weather!

STRYKER: I'll take it, Ellen.  [to radio] Listen, Treleaven, I'm coming in, do you hear me?  I'm coming in right now.  We have people up here including my own son who'll die in less than one hour, never mind two.  I may bend your precious airplane, but I'll bring it down.  Now get on with the landing check!  I'm putting the gear down now.

ELLEN: Ted?

STRYKER: Yes?

ELLEN: I just wanted you to know, now, I'm very proud.

STRYKER: Tell them the gear is down, and we're ready to land.

ELLEN [to radio]: The gear is now down, and we're ready to land.

BURDICK: He may not be able to fly, but he's sure got guts.

TRELEAVEN: Keep your heading steady on zero nine zero, increase your throttle settings slightly to hold your airspeed, advance your prop controls so that you're getting a reading of twenty-two fifty RPM on each engine.

STRYKER [mumbling]: Twenty-two fifty RPM.

VANCOUVER RADAR CONTROLLER: He's still dropping!  Just under six hundred! ... five fifty! ... five hundred!

TRELEAVEN: Stryker, you're too low!

ELLEN: Still on one forty.

VANCOUVER RADAR CONTROLLER: Altitude steady at five hundred.  He's right on the heading.

TRELEAVEN: All right, he's on final now.  Put out all the runway lights except number nine.

[The emergercy vehicles wait anxiously.]

TRELEAVEN: Turn on your landing lights, Stryker.

STRYKER: Can you find the switch?

[Ellen flips the first three of a bank of 5 overhead switches.  Landing lights are the headlight-like bright lamps on the front of a plane, so naturally to show us that the plane's landing lights are now on, we are shown the plane from the rear.]

TRELEAVEN: All right, now listen carefully.  You should be able to see the runway at three hundred feet.  Aim to touch down a third of the way along.  There's a slight crosswind from the right, so be ready for it.  If you land too fast, use your emergency brake.  The red handle is right in front of you.  If that doesn't stop you, cut the four ignition switches over the copilot's head.

STRYKER: You see them, Ellen?

ELLEN: Uh huh.

STRYKER: If I want them off, it'll be in a hurry, so don't waste any time about it.

ELLEN: All right.

TRELEAVEN: Now, Stryker, hold your present heading, put down full flap, bring your airspeed back to a hundred and ten, adjust your trim and start easing 'er down.  [to Burdick] Everything ready on the field?

BURDICK: As ready as we'll ever be.

STRYKER: Give me altitude and speed.

ELLEN: Four hundred feet, speed one fifteen.  Three fifty, speed a hundred and ten.

TRELEAVEN: [to radio] You see us now?  You should be able to see the field now.

[A tense moment passes.  We are shown everybody's perspiration.  Finally, Stryker points straight ahead, and we can see the ground-level approach lights and, dimly, the runway immediately beyond them.]

TRELEAVEN: There he is! ... Stryker, you're comin' in too fast!

STRYKER: I know, I know!  Keep watching!

ELLEN: Three hundred, speed one twenty-five.  Three hundred, speed one thirty.

TRELEAVEN: Stryker, now listen to me, you're coming down too fast! ... Sound your alarm bell now.

[Ellen does.]

JANET: All right, everybody get in crash positions. ... Put your heads down, everybody put your heads down!

TRELEAVEN: Now let down, easy! ... Watch your nose, it's too low, you're comin' in too hot!  Remember your brakes and switches, get ready to flare it out. ... You're comin' in too fast! ... Now ease her down, down! ... Lift the nose, throttle back!  The brakes, pull that red handle!

[Stryker tries to pull the red handle, but it won't budge.  Instead, he rocks both rudder pedals forward, engaging the foot brakes.  Flames and/or sparks shoot forth from the left main landing gear.]

STRYKER: Cut the switches!

[Ellen does.  The lights go out in the passenger compartment.]

TRELEAVEN: Hold 'er steady!

[The landing gear struts break loose from the plane, and it skids sideways down the runway.  There is a lot of screaming.  The four brave, valiant propeller blades keep spinning right up to the bitter end as the plane grinds to a halt.  Emergency vehicles race to the scene.  The cabin lights miraculously come back on, despite the fact that the engines' electric generators were supposedly disengaged when the ignition switches were turned off a few seconds ago.]

DR. BAIRD [carrying Joey]: Everything's all right back here thanks to you.  And we're in time.

ELLEN: Thank God!

STRYKER: Thanks!

TRELEAVEN: Stryker!  Stryker, you all right?

STRYKER [picking up the radio mike]: Okay!

TRELEAVEN: Ted, Ted, that was probably the lousiest landin' in the history of this airport.  But there's some of us here, particularly me, who'd like to buy you a drink and shake your hand.  We're comin' over.

[And as Stryker and Ellen leave the cockpit, we're left with a closeup of the pilot's headset draped over the control yoke, and it's:]

THE END


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