The Concorde... Airport '79 (1979) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • American based Federation World Airlines has just acquired a Concorde jet, which will make its inaugural commercial flight from Washington, D.C. to Paris, and then to Moscow as a goodwill gesture prior to the 1980 Olympic Games. Among those on board is Maggie Whelan, a television reporter, who is taking both legs of the trip. Just after boarding at Dulles International Airport, she receives documents conclusively and unequivocally stating that her boyfriend, Dr. Kevin Harrison, the Chairman of Harrison Industries, an aerospace contractor, is complicit in illegally selling arms to enemy regimes. Regardless, Maggie loves Kevin, who vows to do the right thing by making a public statement to his illegal activities. Maggie also intends on making an on-air report of the story once she arrives in Moscow. Kevin, however, has other thoughts. He plans on destroying the documents, the most convenient way being to bring down the Concorde with Maggie aboard, initially having the attack on the plane as a technical error, then pinning the attack on one of the many activist groups opposed to the Concorde itself, or the upcoming Olympics. Concorde pilots Joe Petroni and Paul Metrand do whatever they have to to combat the attacks on the plane, the masterminds behind of which they nor Maggie are aware.

  • This film is the last of the "Airport" film franchise which stars George Kennedy again in his aviation-disaster struck role as Joe Patroni, who has to contend with nuclear missiles, the French Air Force, and the threat of the plane splitting in two over the Alps. This is all because a lady on board, Maggie has some documents which put Harrison Industries in big trouble (showing that they make nuclear weapons) and their leader, played by Robert Wagner, wants the Concorde to crash with Maggie (Susan Blakely) in it.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • December 1979. An American-owned French operated Concorde super-sonic jet takes off from the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. Captain Paul Metrand (Alain Delon) makes conversation with Isabelle (Sylvia Kristel), the purser whom is his current lover. They land at Dulles Airport in Washington DC.

    Maggie Whalen (Susan Blakely) is an investigative reporter who recaps the arrival of the Concorde and reports on the "Goodwill" flight on the Concorde the following day, which leads to a story of future boyfriend Kevin Harrison (Robert Wagner) and his Buzzard missile project. Carl Parker shows up at Maggie's house with a claim about documentation of illegal arms deals to communist nations. Carl is shot before a passerby triggers a fire alarm, scaring the assailant away.

    Meanwhile, Captain Joe Patroni (George Kennedy) introduces himself to Captain Metrand as being the pilot for the Concord flight to Paris and to Moscow for the upcoming 1980 Summer Olympics to be held eight months from then. The next morning, Maggie tells Harrison about her ordeal and the rumor of documents. Kevin claims someone is framing him. He sends Maggie off in a limo while he waits for his business partner Willie Halpern to arrive. Kevin tells Willie that Parker is dead, but they do not have the documents. Kevin asks what time the next launch of the Buzzard is. Willie replies 6:30; Kevin wants it delayed until 8:00 and the drone test reprogrammed.

    Metrand and Patroni board the Concorde. It is difficult to determine the pilot-in-command as both of them are captains. Peter O'Neill (David Warner), the 2nd officer and flight engineer, is living with a controlling girlfriend.

    Kevin surprises Maggie at the airline check-in desk to see her off. He asks if the documents showed up, but they have not. As he is walking away, Carl Parker's wife delivers the documents to Maggie as she steps on the mobile lounge. She looks them over on the lounge and realizes that Kevin lied to her.

    The Concorde takes off from Washington/Dulles enroute to Paris where, unbeknownst to the flight crew, an off-course ground-to-air missile is headed straight for them. At company headquarters, Kevin tells his controllers to alert the government. Patroni takes over the Concord as it goes into evasive action manouvers to evade the missile. The USAF scrambles F-15 fighter jets to intercept the missile just as it locks onto the Concorde. An F-15 shoots down the missile before it collides with the Concorde.

    As the Concorde is approaching the European coastline, an F-4 Phantom fighter jet, piloted by a mercenary, is sent by Harrison and engages the Concorde with air-to-air missiles as well as gunfire as French Air Force Mirages scramble to help the Concorde. The Mirages shoot down the F-4 and the Concorde continues to Paris, although it diverts to Le Bourget Airport instead of Charles de Gaulle because it is damaged by the F-4's gunfire. The Concorde reaches the French coastline, landing with a damaged hydraulic system and just barely stopping at the last safety net.

    Captain Metrand and Isabelle invite Joe to dinner as they wait for the Concord to be repaired. Meanwhile, Kevin arrives at Charles de Gaulle Airport, where an associate meets him, stating that he has another plan to stop Maggie from making public the documents before she reaches Moscow.

    Joe, Paul and Isabelle meet for dinner with a date for Joe as promised by Paul. Maggie meets Kevin for dinner. He promises to go public with the documents but attempts to bribe Maggie into "polishing" his statement. After being paid by Kevin, a mechanic, Rollie, places a device in the Concorde's cargo door control unit, timed to open during flight to depressurized the aircraft.

    The next morning, as the passengers re-board the Concorde for the second stage of the flight to Moscow, a well-dressed woman (Charo) attempts to smuggle a dog aboard. She is caught by an alert Isabelle and leaves the aircraft. Inside the terminal, Rollie is in line at the security checkpoint when his money falls out of his pants leg. The X-ray technician attempts to return it, but Rollie pretends not to hear and runs off. The security guard tells his partner to call security before chases Rollie. Rollie runs onto the runway where the Concorde is taking off. The aircraft's wake scatters the money he received from Kevin.

    The aircraft is en route to Moscow when the automatic device opens the cargo door. When Captain Metrand investigates, he sees the carpet tear down the middle of the aisle, signifying the fuselage is under tremendous stress and the aircraft is about to break apart. The cargo door is ripped off, extensively damaging the aircraft and ripping the floor of the cabin from the Concord as it spirals toward the ground. The airline founder's seat lodges in the hole, acting as a plug. The pilots attempt to fly to Innsbruck for an emergency landing, but realize they do not have enough fuel. Paul realizes they are flying towards a ski area he used to go to in the Swiss Alps; they could make a gear-up landing on a mountain-side.

    The aircraft approaches the landing site while the Swiss ski patrol marks a runway. The aircraft lands successfully. Maggie immediately gives a report of the accident to a news reporter and gives details about a major story she is about to release. In his office back in Paris, Kevin hears the newscast and commits suicide by shooting himself. At the crash site, Patroni and the last of the crew leaves the Concord shortly before fuselage caves in and the entire aircraft explodes from the leaking fuel.

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