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|Charlton Heston||Capt. Henry 'Hank' O'Hara|
|Yvette Mimieux||Angela Thacher|
|James Brolin||Jerome K. Weber|
|Claude Akins||Sgt. Ben Puzo|
|Jeanne Crain||Mrs. Clara Shaw|
|Susan Dey||Elly Brewster|
|Roosevelt Grier||Gary Brown|
|Mariette Hartley||Harriet Stevens|
|Walter Pidgeon||Sen. Arne Lindner|
|Ken Swofford||John Bimonte|
|Leslie Uggams||Lovejoy Wells|
|Ross Elliott||Harold Shaw|
|Nicholas Hammond||Peter Lindner|
|Mike Henry||Sam Allen|
|Jayson Kane||William Reading (as Jayson William Kane)|
|John Hillerman||Walter Brandt|
|Mike Henry||Sam Allen|
|John Fiedler||Robert Grandig|
|Maureen Connell||Mrs. O'Hara|
"On Board Flight 502 Is A Bomb. It Could Be Anywhere. And A Skyjacker. It Could Be Anyone."
"This is your captain... we have a skyjacker on board."
Global Airways Flight 502—using a Boeing 707—takes off as a routine flight from Oakland, California, to Minneapolis/St.Paul, Minnesota, with Captain Henry O'Hara (Charlton Heston) and his flight crew at the controls. In the middle of the flight, Captain O'Hara becomes aware of a bomb threat when he goes into the women's bathroom (on the advice of a stewardess) and sees "Bomb on plane divert to Anchorage Alaska. No Joke, No Tricks. Death." He interprets this to mean that he has to divert his course immediately to Anchorage, Alaska, or otherwise the bomb will explode on board. O'Hara changes course immediately to Anchorage and manages to carry out a perfect landing there, despite terrible weather and other circumstances.A disillusioned soldier, Sgt. Jerome K. Weber (James Brolin), a Vietnam veteran driven into insanity by his war trauma, is responsible for hijacking the plane, and threatens to blow it up with a bomb. In Anchorage, the majority of economy class passengers escape via an emergency slide. The remaining passengers are allowed to leave including the three coach class stewardesses, Jane, Lovejoy and Hazel. Weber then keeps all first class passengers as hostages, amongst them United States Senator Arne Lindner (Walter Pidgeon), and Senior Stewardess Angela Thatcher (Yvette Mimieux) and insists to be flown to Moscow, as he intends to defect to the Soviet Union.Although the airline doesn't receive clearance to fly into Soviet airspace, Weber insists to be flown straight ahead to Moscow, threatening the pilots with death if they do not comply. Upon entering Soviet airspace, Soviet military aircraft appear to intercept the 707. Finally, O'Hara lowers the landing gear and flaps to a full landing configuration to make the Soviet interceptors aware that this is a US civilian aircraft and not a military intruder, as the Soviet authorities had thought and had ordered the plane to be shot down. O'Hara's actions result in the Soviet aircraft realizing that they have been confronted with a hijacked US civilian airplane.The Soviet military aircraft escort the 707 to their nearest airport, Moscow Airport. There, all passengers are finally released. It becomes clear that O'Hara and Senior Stewardess Thatcher have been in love for some time but O'Hara separated from Thatcher in order to save his marriage. Thatcher is now in love with first officer Sam.After landing, O'Hara and Weber are the only persons to remain on board of the 707. Weber eventually realizes that he is unable to achieve the confidence of the Soviet authorities and his attempt to seize the 707 was futile. When O'Hara finally tries to kick him out of his 707, Weber shoots him. Both men stagger down the gangway, where finally Weber is shot and killed by Soviet forces. O'Hara survives, just wounded in his shoulders, and he is looking up into the sky, with a great smile of relief, when he sees a plane just after takeoff.