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|Kris Kristofferson||Bill Smith|
|Cheryl Ladd||Louise Baltimore|
|Daniel J. Travanti||Dr. Arnold Mayer|
|Robert Joy||Sherman T. Robot|
|David McIlwraith||Tom Stanley|
|Maury Chaykin||Roger Keane|
|Al Waxman||Dr. Brindle|
|Lawrence Dane||Vern Rockwell|
|Gene Rudolf||Set Designer|
|Eric N. Robertson||Original Music Composer|
|Rene Ohashi||Director of Photography|
|Charles Dunlop||Art Direction|
|John Varley||Story Contributor|
The film begins in the cockpit of a U.S. passenger airliner (Boeing 747), shortly before they are struck from above by another airliner (McDonnell Douglas DC-10) on a landing approach. The pilot handles the airplane as well as he can while the flight engineer goes back to check on the passenger cabin. He comes back in the cockpit screaming, “They're dead! All of them! They’re burned up!”Bill Smith (Kristofferson) is a National Transportation Safety Board investigator hired to determine whether human error is the cause of a collision of two aircraft, both of which crashed. He and his team of investigators are confused by the words on the cockpit voice recorder because there had been no fire on board before the plane hit the ground. At the same time, a theoretical physicist named Dr. Arnold Mayer (Travanti) has a professional curiosity about the crash, which borders on science fiction. While giving a lecture, he talks about time travel and the possibility of visitors from the future.Time travelers are, in fact, visiting the present day and stealing passengers from doomed aircraft. Every incursion into the past causes an accompanying "timequake" whose magnitude is proportional to the effects of the incursion into the past. Each "timequake" causes physical damage in the time from which the incursion has been made. This is why they are abducting people who will not be able to affect the future any further and replacing them with copies of those who would have died. Thus, the co-pilot's strange comment came because all the passengers had been replaced with pre-burned duplicates in preparation for the upcoming crash.