Starflight One (1983) starring Lee Majors, Hal Linden, Lauren Hutton, Ray Milland
The celebrity-laden Starflight One, aka. Starflight: the Plane that Couldn’t Land, was the last of the disaster movies. Only with a bit of science fiction thrown in. The basic story has the first hypersonic transport being prepared for a media-covered inaugural flight from Los Angeles to Sydney, Australia, a planned two-hour flight. The passengers and crew, as is normal for these types of movies, bring their own baggage, and we’re not talking luggage:
- Captain Cody Briggs (Lee Majors, The Six Million Dollar Man) is cheating on his wife with:
- Erica Hansen (Lauren Hutton, American Gigolo, Once Bitten), media relations executive. Whose young daughter knows of the affair and is having trouble respecting her mother because of it
- Josh Gilliam (Hal Linden, Barney Miller) the designer of the doomed craft. Who tried to warn management about the potential disaster if the rockets don’t cut out on time — which they don’t
- Q.T. Thornwall (Ray Milland, Dial M for Murder, The Lost Weekend) doesn’t want to use a device made by a dishonest competitor to try and save them — due to the disaster caused by:
- Freddie Barrett (Terry Kiser, Weekend at Bernie’s) whose communications satellite launched from Australia to start his business carrying television signals launched prematurely, which had to be destroyed, throwing a lot of space debris as Starflight One, damaging it, and causing the problem.
Of course, once the disaster hits, there’s more interpersonal reactions and angst:
- Guilt from Hal Linden who keeps trying to find a way to rescue the ship. As some people die in one attempt
- The various media people on board
- Trying to reserve as much power and oxygen as possible
- Dealing with zero gravity
- As well as repeated rescue attempts that keep failing … including launching the Space Shuttle Columbia three times in a row.
This was nearly as silly as in Destination Moon, where the launch of the first moon mission had to be rushed in 17 hours. But in all, it’s an enjoyable bit of fluff, good for a Saturday afternoon.