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Tailspin: Behind the Korean Airliner Tragedy (1989)

Chronicle of the shooting down of a Korean passenger plane by Soviet air force on 1st September 1983. Over 280 people died in this incident.


David Darlow


Brian Phelan
1 nomination. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Murphy ... Richard Burt
Michael Moriarty ... Maj. Hank Daniels
Chris Sarandon ... John Lenczowski
Harris Yulin ... Gen. Tyson
Richard Holmes ... Clark (as Otto Jarman)
Bradley Lavelle ... Jamie
Kieron Jecchinis ... Coles
Matthew Freeman Matthew Freeman ... Aaron
Andrea Browne Andrea Browne ... Operative
James Tillitt James Tillitt ... Operative
Ed O'Ross ... Sgt. Duffy
Debora Weston Debora Weston ... Carol
Colin Bruce Colin Bruce ... Dave
Marc Smith ... Mort
Bill Bailey Bill Bailey ... Military


Chronicle of the shooting down of a Korean passenger plane by Soviet air force on 1st September 1983. Over 280 people died in this incident.

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airplane accident | See All (1) »









Release Date:

20 August 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Coded Hostile See more »

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Did You Know?


Written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performed by Rundfunkchor Leipzig (as The Leipzig Radio Chorus) and Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden (as The Dresden State Orchestra)
Conducted by Peter Schreier
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User Reviews

Brilliant, although outdated now
11 July 2004 | by ChrJahnsenSee all my reviews

Most of the world reacted with shock when the news that the Soviets had shot down a civilian airliner, killing everybody on board. This dramatized documentary tries to manifest that unfortunate circumstances and wrongful programming of the on-board navigation computer made the Korean Airlines airliner stray way into Soviet territory. They've even found the pilot of another KAL jet which was right behind KAL 007 on that fateful night.

This movie does an excellent job and I've always considered it an excellent documentary, which gives a great view of what went on in the rafters inside the US government.

However, the trail of clues the movie follows have now been proven more or less completely useless by a great author and former airline pilot: Michel Brun, who has released the magnificent book "Incident at Sakhalin" (Published by Four Walls Eight Windows, ISBN 1-56858-054-1). In here we follow his brilliant detective work, in which he walks around on the beaches of Japan gathering debris from the airliner in positions they couldn't possibly have wound up, had is been shot down where the US and the Soviet Union claims it was shot down.

He proceeds to Tokyo's international airport where he obtains a copy of the radio traffic tape from that night, in which he discovers that KAL 007 was transmitting strange radio messages for another 45 minutes after allegedly having been shot down.

He also gets a hold of radar observations from the northern tip of Japan, in which he discovers that a huge air battle took place that night over the Soviet island Sakhalin, during which at least 10 American military aircraft were shot down by Russian fighters.

Interested? Do a web search for "Incident at Sakhalin", and head for pages mentioning Michel Brun and/or his assistant John Keppel.

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