Flight of the Navigator (1986) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • In 1978, a boy travels 8 years into the future and has an adventure with an intelligent, wisecracking alien ship.

  • A 12-year-old boy goes missing in 1978, only to reappear once more in 1986. In the eight years that have passed, he hasn't aged. It is no coincidence that at the time he "comes back", a flying saucer is found, entangled in power lines.

  • David Freeman lived in 1978 with his family. Suddenly,he finds himself in 1986, 8 yrs later, without ageing at all. His family is surprised by his return after being missing for so long. At NASA's David connects with an alien ship as the ship's new navigator.

  • After a mystifying disappearance aboard a spectacular, futuristic spacecraft, David Freeman returns to Earth possessing vast, undiscovered knowledge about the farthest reaches of the universe. With these sudden navigational powers, he is able to take the fantastic flying machine anywhere he desires.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Disney's 1986 Flight of the Navigator combines a strong ensemble cast and classic '80s soundtrack with dazzling special effects for a high-flying sci-fi adventure. While searching for his little brother in the woods, Even more mystifying is that David hasn't aged, nor can he account for the time lapse. Meanwhile, NASA officials stumble upon a futuristic spacecraft and are determined to assess what David knows about it by locking him in a top-secret lab for scanning and testing. His only chance of escape is in the spacecraft manned by Max, a wisecracking robot. Cramer gives an earnest performance, which overcomes an imperfect script, while enough one-liners and imaginative animation will keep families engaged. Watch for Sarah Jessica Parker in one of her first film appearances. Rated PG for language. (Ages 6 and older) --Lynn Gibson

    A 12-year-old boy named David Freeman (played by Joey Cramer), lives with his parents and younger brother in Florida. On the 4th of July, he is sent to retrieve his brother from his friend's house. David goes through a wooded area and falls down into a ravine, knocking himself out. When he awakens what feels like moments later, he goes back to his house, only to find some other family living inside it! David is reported to the local authorities, who after searching their computer, find that David has been legally declared dead. David is then taken to another house, where he finds his family, now aged. Completely confused, David passes out, and awakes in a hospital, where he learns that 8 years have passed.

    In order to find out what happened to David, mental tests are conducted at the hospital, showing 'erratic brain patterns,' and even a strange object. This catches the attention of some men at NASA, who have discovered and are harboring a spacecraft very similar to the one that was found in David's brain patterns. Unable to get inside the craft, they think David may hold the key to opening it.

    The head of the team at NASA, Dr. Faraday (Howard Hesseman), meets with David and his family, and convinces them that he can help them answer the questions they have regarding David's disappearance. David is taken to a special room that is closely monitored at NASA, where he befriends an intern named Carolyn (Sarah Jessica Parker), who visits him regularly with a mechanical helper named R.A.L.F. (Robotic Assisted Living Facilitator). Through her, David learns about what has been going on in the world during the last 8 years, as he's sad to learn that his favorite show 'Starsky and Hutch' was cancelled, and intrigued by 'music videos.'

    The scientists carry out a series of tests on David's brain. The results reveal alien star charts and other information. Using their equipment, David is shocked when he brain sends electrical impulses to the NASA computer, answering questions that he has no way of knowing. Along with the star charts, the information in David's brain tells the scientists that he has been on the planet Phalon. The scientists surmise that due to David travelling to and from Phalon at the speed of light, this explains why he was able to return 8 years later without having aged. Upset by the whole experience David runs from the room.

    Some time later, Carolyn appears and tells David that she has overheard that NASA is planning to keep him for a longer stay. David tells Carolyn to tell his parents about this, which she does willingly.

    The next day, David hears strange voices calling to him. As he listens, the R.A.L.F. robot enters the room, and David gets inside, as the service robot delivers him to the hanger with the spacecraft. As David approaches, the spacecraft opens up, and some steps materialize. Going inside, David finds the ship's pilot, who informs David that his mind contains the star charts he needs to complete his mission. David and the ship manage to escape from NASA, but Dr Faraday and his men are quick to try and follow them.

    A ways off, David and the ship's pilot have a discussion. The pilot explains that he has been sent to collect specimens from various planets. David was chosen from Earth. As humans do not use all their brain, The ship's pilot decided to fill the extra space with star charts, but the test was unsuccessful, as the information 'leaked.' Due to the frailty of human bodies, the ship was unable to return David to the exact time he came from, which explains why David is now in 1986. After returning David to Earth, the ship crashed into some powerlines, and as a result, it's star charts were erased. David's brain is the only chance the ship has to recover the lost charts and return to Phalon. David then strikes a deal with the alien craft: if David gives him the star charts, the ship will take him home. When the ship classifies itself to David as a "Tri-maxian Drone Ship," David decides to nickname the ship's computer Max.

    Back at NASA, Dr Faraday is informed that the last person to see David before he got out of his room was Carolyn, who has left the facility. NASA agents track her down to David's family's home, where she has told about David escaping from the facility in the spaceship. Carolyn is returned to NASA for questioning, and David's family is confined to their house, since it is assumed that David will try to return to them.

    To avoid being found, The ship has plunged into the ocean. As it prepares for the mind-transfer to retrieve the star charts, David finds several other alien specimens that Max has collected. Max claims he will return them back to their own time and planets once he returns David, with the exception of one Called a Pup-muhrr, whose planet was destroyed. David quickly takes a liking to the little creature.

    Finally, Max is ready, and scans David's brain for the star charts, only to have also scanned in some of David's personality. This gives Max a bit more of a handle on human personality.

    Eventually, the ship heads towards Florida, where David manages to call his family. Getting ahold of his brother, David explains that he doesn't know where his family's new house is, but his brother assures him that he'll help David find it. Meanwhile, NASA has been tracking David and Max's progress by radar, and surmising he's coming home, send trucks to intercept the ship and David.

    As night falls, David is able to find the house when his brother sets off fireworks on top of their house. As the ship touches down, Dr Faraday appears, and attempts to coax David away from the ship, along with David's parents. However, instead of leaving the ship, David goes back inside, informing Max to fly off.

    David explains that he can't stay in 1986, claiming that he'll just be a guinea pig for NASA for the rest of his life. Max once again reiterates that taking David back to 1978 is risky, and he could be vaporized. However, David is willing to take that risk. The two say their goodbyes, as Max then races through space and time.

    Moments later, David wakes up in the same ravine. As he makes his way home, he hears his Dad calling from the nearby dock, and David smiles, seeing that Max did it, and he is now back in 1978! David acknowledges each of his family members, and as the family takes off in their boat, we see that the little Pup-muhrr has stowed away in David's back pack, and Max can be seen flying overhead, as David is glad to be back home.

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