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Disaster Porn Saturday Night: Death Flight (aka SST: Death Flight)

Crew members Kathy (Chrystie Jenner) and David (Billy Crystal) have to vote between London and Senegal in order to survive

Crew members Kathy (Chrystie Jenner) and David (Billy Crystal) have to vote between London and Senegal in order to survive

I've always hated flying and for good reason.

There's an abundance of airplane disaster movies that were made before I had ever set foot onto a plane. And to top it off, I was reading a book (that was supposed to ease your mind about flying) that chronicled airplane crashes. My mind wasn't put at ease.

Of course, after I had started flying, my fear would ease once we were in the air, but my mind always went back to a disaster movie.

It was time to find something involving an air disaster and then I came across this made for tv movie from February 25, 1977 (happy upcoming anniversary!).

As the empty supersonic Maiden One heads to New York for its inaugural flight to Paris, the flight attendant crew doesn't understand why Captain Jim Walsh (Robert Reed) has to point every little detail out over the address system. They think it's annoying.

Down on the ground, passengers and well-wishers are celebrating with a huge party, but there's a disgruntled employee among the mix Les Phillips (George Maharis) who thinks he should have been promoted to production supervisor. He takes his anger out on his employees and when they're not looking, has one of them fill up the hydraulics with a corrosive chemical. Which is kind of stupid since he's going to be on the flight.

Among the 250 passengers are contest winner Anne Redding (Season Hubley) her fiancé Bob Connors (John De Lancie); her former boss/lover Paul Whitley (Peter Graves); former football superstar Lyle Kingman (Martin Milner) and his wife Nancy (Susan Strasberg); Miss SST (Misty Rowe) and her boyfriend, PR Representative Tim Vernon (Bert Convy) and Dr. Ralph Therman (Brock Peters) who stows away a container carrying the contagious Senegal Flu.

The flight is going to take two hours and forty minutes, but shortly after takeoff, the seals for the hydraulic system begin to leak and when Walsh won't turn the plane around, Phillips tries to undo what he's done but to no avail. He confesses to his crime, while in a hangar, Cutlass VP Marshall Cole (Lorne Greene) helps to figure out a way to stop the leaking, since the plane has no hydraulic system.

It's funny because Willy Basset (Burgess Meredith) built the plane and can't come up with a solution. Neither can disgraced pilot Hank Fairbanks (Doug McClure) who's aboard to buy a plane but wants to see how this plane handles.

Walsh sends Phillips, along with First Officer Eric Brent (Tom Stewart) and Flight Engineer Roy Nakamura (Robert Ito) into the cargo hold to repair the damage, but there's an explosion and after a hole rips the underside of the fuselage, the three are sucked out to their deaths.

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Maiden One begins to lose altitude and the passengers are left to get oxygen from the masks, while Walsh and Basset lie on the floor in the cockpit. Fairbanks, however, manages to take control of the plane after fitting them with portable oxygen masks.

While passengers pass out due to oxygen, head flight attendant, Mae (Tina Louise) manages to run around the cabin without oxygen, until Lyle notices her pass out. He gets to her just in time after she passes out.

The plane isn't leveling out as Walsh and Basset regain consciousness as an untrained Hank manages to fly without any problems and has one section of the plane move into the back of the plane.

With no one moving, Lyle steps in and urges his fellow passengers to get back and once Nancy heads toward the back others follow.

Anne realizes that she still has feelings for Paul as he falls ill to the flu and she tends to him, while Dr. Therman tells Walsh they need to land ASAP.

The plane isn't given permission to land in France, but Cole is able to get it land in London, which Lyle agrees to, but the passengers think that they should land in Senegal after they vote. They think that since the virus started there, the country is more capable of quarantining them.

Walsh disagrees but ends up listening to them where the plane crashes.

With all of the drama going on, there's really no one to root for, but, for Louise and Reed, they seem to channel all of their angst at former boss Sherwood Shwartz into their performances.

And you've never seen Mr. Brady this angry.




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