The Flight of the Phoenix (1965) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • A cargo plane goes down in a sandstorm in the Sahara with less than a dozen men on board. One of the passengers is an airplane designer who comes up with the idea of ripping off the undamaged wing and using it as the basis for an airplane they will build to escape before their food and water run out.

  • After a plane crash in the Sahara, one of the survivors says he's an airplane designer and they can make a flyable plane from the wreckage.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • A routine flight in an old flying box car with a broken radio, carrying a group of tired men and worn out tools, encounters a fierce sand storm in the Sahara desert. The men are hundreds of miles from rescue, and nobody knows where they are. With zero chance of rescue and a 10 days supply of water, the group is forced to make a decision. Wait to die or build a flyable airplane using the salvaged parts of the wrecked flying boxcar. They hedge their bets by sending one person out with most of their water, on a trek for help. Then they start to plan and build a plane. One point of conflict is that the aeronautical engineer is German, and World War II is still fresh in everyone's mind. Lots of planning and luck enough to be carrying the basic tools on the plane to do the job. They start to cut up and build. Later the group learns that the engineer designs scale model planes, and second-guesses him. There is a small graveyard where after the crash they bury the victims of the crash and it keeps growing one man at a time during the story, adding a very stark reminder of the consequences of failure. Finally the project is to the point where take off can be attempted. They start the motor, and with a slow and laborious run the contrived contraption manages to take off and fly. We are reminded of a quote the pilot made in the beginning of the story." I can remember when a pilot could just take pride in getting to the destination." We are sure that was the case when they arrived in the home made plane. This story is so well told that there is a debate on if it is a true story or not. Be careful about claiming if it is or not.

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