Toward the Unknown (1956) - full transcript

USAF Major Lincoln Bond is captured, tortured and released from a POW camp in Korea. After the war he returns to the US where he is re-assigned as a test pilot at the Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base. The Air Force is testing the new experimental aircraft Gilbert XF-120 fighter. The acceptance of the new aircraft by the Air Force is dependent on successful tests designed to prove the aircraft's reliability and safety. However, when Major Bond flies the prototype he encounters a problem that points out a dangerous structural flaw. This could threaten the aircraft's acceptance by the Air Force and derail the whole project. Major Bond's commanding officer and some of his colleagues start to suspect that Major Bond is imagining things because of his mental condition dating back to his imprisonment and torture in the Korean POW camp.

[orchestral music]

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[aircraft revving]

- You know who that was?
- No.

Major Lincoln Bond.

I wonder what
he's doin' back here.

I wonder.

[aircraft revving]

Edwards to General Banner,
I can see it again.

It looks like the fire
is back to the wing.

(General Banner on radio)
'Roger, Edwards.
I can see it now in my mirror.'

'I'm reducing power
to idle position. Stand by.'

General, this Mickey McKee.

I don't see any fire now.
Is your warning light still on?

'Affirmative, Mickey,
no fire in the mirror now'

'but the warning light's
still on.'

'I'm stop-cocking the throttle,
and comin' in.'

Okay, we'll be all set for you.

I want crash trucks
at both ends of the runway.

Calling Crash Control,
we have an F-102 in trouble.

Give us equipment
at both ends of the runway.

[siren wailing]

[aircraft revving]

You got fire again, general.
Don't try to land, bail out.

'Relax, Mickey,
we'll never locate'

'the cause of the fire
that way.'

'If I can't make the runway,
I'll land on the dry lake.'

Don't try it, she may get worse.
Get out while you can.

'Negative, I'm coming in.'


[dramatic music]

[siren wailing]

I'm sorry, Lt. Sweeney,
but only the rescue party

is allowed in the crash area.

It's still dangerous, ma'am.

- You too, sir.
- Okay, captain.

Mm-hmm. Yeah, I see.

Oh, what's his condition now?
Hmm, good.

What about the plane, any report
come through on it yet?

What do you know,
it's Major Bond.

- Welcome back to Edwards.
- Thanks, Jerry.

Just visiting.

- What'll you have, sir?
- Scotch on the rocks.

Coming up.
How is he?

Hospital says he's okay.
He'll be back at work tomorrow.

I was afraid this time
he'd had it.

Excuse me.
Major Bond, meet Major Lee.

Bromo Lee?
I've heard about you.

I've heard about you.

I saw the general coming in.

With that much fire, you'd have
thought he'd have bailed out.

Looks like you don't know
General Banner.

He's allergic to abandoning
any aircraft..

...if it's still flying.

Well, it's getting late.

- Goodnight.
- 'Night.

Bromo's been making
quite a name for himself

with those speed
and altitude records.

Oh, I don't know.

Always figure we got
other pilots just as good.

But he rates number one
with General Banner.

'There's no question
about that.'

Tell me..

...the general still doing a lot
of tests, like the one tonight?

Are you kiddin'?
He flies more than his pilots.

Especially the tough ones.

That's what I hear.

[serene music]

[aircraft revving]

[dramatic music]

[intense music]

[triumphant music]

[music continues]

[aircraft revving]


You should know better, Linc,
this is no way to do things.

Well, maybe I should've
come in through the back door.

The idea is to give
a little notice.

Why, we have a band that jumps
at any excuse to start playing.

They'd need
a better excuse than me.

Sit down, Linc.

Well, since you
having made general

obviously, you've been doing
something else with your time.

Well, I just had
another daughter.

All by yourself?

No, there was some woman
around at the time

by the name of Sarah,
I think.

I think so too.
How is she?

They're all wonderful, Linc.

Well, you didn't come
all this way just to find out

that we're loaded
with kids at our house.

Mainly, I came all this way
to get away from where I was.

Washington? I thought
that's the place

where everything happens.

Not any of the things
that I know anything about.

You know why I'm here, Mickey.

I want a job test flying.

Yeah, I know.

And I know all the questions
you've got to ask

before you can give me
any sort of an answer.

First, "Am I alright now?"

Are you?

I'm fine.

All I need is a job
that I know I can do.

I know what a spot
it's putting you in to ask.

That doesn't bother me.

The only thing
that really matters is

are you sure
you're alright now?

'Maybe you need
a little more time.'

I'm okay.

I don't have
to tell you

if it were up to me
you'd already be set.

It goes without saying that
I'll put in a request for you.

Then it's up to the general.


Is he everything
they say he is?

He's a real good man, Linc.

What's his attitude
going to be about me?

Let's find out.
Come on.

Hi, Connie. Any chance of
seeing the man for a minute?

Probably. You're ranked pretty
high around here, you know.

(Banner on intercom)

Col. McKee would like
to see you, general.

- 'Send him in.'
- Yes, sir.

See how easy it is
when you're ranked pretty high?

'Thanks, Connie.'

Oh, by the way..

I think this is what
Sarah means when she says

I'm always putting
my foot in my mouth.

Anyway, there's a guy outside
I think you used to know.

I used to know lots of guys.

That's what I mean.
So, you probably know this one.

[engine revving]


[pleasant music]

Hello, Connie.

This is a fine thing
to do to a girl.

Well, I didn't know
you were here.

- Last time I heard you were--
- I was in Dayton.

That was quite
a while ago, Linc.

Yes, yes it was.

General Banner requested me
here about a year ago.


You would've known all this if
I hadn't started feeling silly

about all those letters
I was writing

and never getting
any answers.

Yeah, well, it wasn't
that exactly, I--

Lots of time can pass
before you even know it.


Well, all in all,
wouldn't you say I..

...look a lot younger
than you've ever seen me look?

I was thinking that but...
I couldn't find just the words.

Good Ol' Linc...
he can always tell

when a girl's about to go
completely to pieces.

I haven't even asked you
what you're doing here.

Well, I'm trying
to get a job

which no one seems to think
I have a chance of getting.

You'll never know
until you ask.

Well, it used to be..
knew before I asked.

Well, things have
a way of changing.

Don't they just?

Connie, how about
having dinner tonight?

I'd like to, but..

I'm afraid I'm going to
have to work tonight, Linc.

Well, couldn't you tell him

that a ghost out of your past
showed up unexpectedly?

The general is a man
who doesn't believe in ghosts.

But if you're going to be
around for a few days..

Not if the news is bad.

Well, I better be
getting back to my desk.


Connie, isn't there
something you could do?

I mean about the dinner.

I'm afraid not, Linc.

If I'd had any warning..

...but of course
you didn't know I was here.

Goodbye, Linc.

But, general, I wouldn't be
asking you to assign Bond if..

Look, he wasn't a collaborator.

Oh, wasn't he?

A confession he made to
the Chinese about germ warfare

sounded a lot like
collaboration to me.

Alright, so he signed
a piece of paper.

But not until he'd held out
for 14 months of brainwashing

and gone through..

Hell, who knows
what they go through.

But more important
than anything..

...before he went to Korea,
he was turning into

the most promising pilot
I'd ever run across.

He had natural ability
and judgment.

And what you need more
than anything else right now..


What I need more than
anything else right now

is pilots I know I can
count on under stress.

I'm sorry, Mickey, that doesn't
sound like Bond to me.

But who knows how bad
the stress got?

Maybe nobody could've
taken it any longer.


He tried to kill himself by
slashing his wrist, you know.

We turn down good men
every week.

How can you ask me to lower
that standard for Bond?

Bond met those standards when
he came here originally, sir.

There's no use
trying to convince me.

It doesn't matter
how I feel personally.

What matters is, that I have
pilots I know I can count on.

With Bond, I wouldn't know.

That's all there is to it.

Believe me,
it's a rotten decision to make.

It looks as though
I was giving him a final kick.

I'm afraid It will be
the final kick, sir.

If it is, I'm sorry.

That doesn't change anything.

Well, it looks
as if we've won.

Maybe full production
on the XF-120.

Great. It's about time too.

I gotta go fly.

Well, you're in the right branch
of the service for it, general.

Never without a word on
the subject, these civilians.

You were right.
I used to know him.

I was sure I had
the right girl.

Oh, general...I'd like
you to meet Major Bond, sir.

- General Banner.
- Glad to meet you, sir.

Haven't I seen you before?

I don't believe we've met.

Thanks for trying to pry me
out of there last night.

Well, sir, I wasn't
doing much good.

The rescue boys
got you out.

About your request, Bond

I'm afraid I'll have to
turn you down, I'm sorry.

Too bad you had to come
all the way out here.

It meant a lot to me.

Look, if you'd be interested
in anything else around here

except test flying..

- That's nice of you. sir.
- You let McKee know if you are.

Where are you staying?

I piled in last night
on Joe and Polly Craven.

From all the fuss you'd think
they were glad to see me.

- Great actors, those two.
- Yeah.

In our theater group
they don't come any better

than Joe and Polly.

- When are you leaving?
- Tomorrow morning.

In case you don't know it,
I'm having dinner tonight

with the Cravens
and the McKees.

Thanks, Mickey,
I know how hard you tried.

See you later.

[jazz music]

[laughter and chatter]

Well, you know what
it was like during the war.

No place to eat,
no place to park.

Luckily, of course, we had
only two children then.

Only two..
Sounds like a whole gang to me.

Believe me, Linc,
two children aren't enough

to completely destroy
a large house.

Stick around a few days
and you'll see.

Absolutely, Linc, and you're
not gonna leave tomorrow.

You just can't do things
like that.

Just pop in after
who knows how many years

then turn right around
and pop right off again.

Before anyone's had a chance
to get used to you again.

Now, why would you want me
and my long sad face around?

It may be long and sad,
but it's a familiar face.

Andf I think old friends
are the best friends.

She didn't read that
any place.

She made it up
on the spur of the moment

just for this argument.

You better watch
yourself, pal.

This is the kind
you wind up marrying.

Don't worry,
I'll keep my guard up.

Don't you agree?
If he did marry me

it'd be nice
for the children.

'Don't worry,
you'll find out.'

[jazz music]

Not at this rate,
I won't.

Connie told me
she was working tonight.

So what? It's already 10:30,
they worked until ten

and then Connie dragged
the general down here

for a little Saturday night


You know, I think I'll ask
that girl for a dance.

Uh, Linc..

Nothing, I was just gonna
wish you luck.


- Why didn't you tell him?
- Why didn't you?

There's nothing for anybody
to tell anybody.

He's just gonna ask her
for a dance, isn't he?

- Evening, general.
- Good evening.

How are you, Connie?

I was afraid you'd
take off before

I had a chance
to see you again.

You've heard of
the perennial bad penny.

And I hope, sir, you've
heard of the universal custom

of asking an attractive
young lady to dance.

Oh, I've heard
of it alright.

I can't say that I
particularly approve of it.

But if it's alright
with her, major.

It's alright with me.

Thank you, sir.

You know, a lonely major
can find himself

flying with his wings
cut off

by making a pass
at the general's girfriend.

It isn't that exactly.

But it is something.

Well, we've been going out
quite a bit together

and you know how
those things are built up.

How serious is it, Connie?

If somebody asked me that
yesterday, I..

...would have said
pretty serious.

- What's changed?
- Stop it, Linc.

You know very well
what's changed.

You don't sound
very happy about it.

Why should I?

What's there to be
happy about finding

you still get disturbed
about someone

who hasn't even given you
a thought for over a year?

- You know better than that.
- How?

That big stack of letters from
you that I treasure so much?

Like old times,
isn't it?

I don't think it's much
like old times, do you?

Oh, I'm sorry, sir.

I certainly didn't
mean to disturb you but

there's been trouble at the
rocket testing station and I--

Alright, Sweeney,
pull yourself together.

- I'm leaving right now.
- Oh, yes, sir.

- So, you're at it again.
- Oh, it isn't my fault.

Being a general's aid's
a lousy position to be.

I-I-I didn't mean that, sir.

It was an unfortunate
choice of words--

- Alright, Sweeney.
- I'll go with you, Bill.

No, it's early, you stay here
and have a little fun.

You can bum a ride with
the McKee's or someone

I'll see that she
gets home, sir.

Yes, the major
can see you home.

Thank you, major.

- Alright, Sweeney.
- Yes, sir.

Why don't we leave
by the front door?

Thank you, sir.

- Goodnight.
- Goodnight, sir.

But at least somebody's
on my side.

Just pray that
it isn't Sweeney.

Why won't you tell me
about Korea?

Honestly, Connie, I'd rather
tell you about it

than anybody else but..'d be like two people
trying to communicate

with each other,
each in a different language.

I just don't think
you'd understand me.

then let's forget it.

From now on, if anybody
asks you anything

you tell them
to check with me.

I don't want a whole lot of
people checking with you.

If it's scars
you're looking for

I've got some
worse than that.

I just wanna be sure
they're all healed.

Gone as far along toward healing
as they can without some help.

What kind of help, Linc?

I need somebody to show
some confidence in me again.

Believe me, I never needed
anything so desperately

in my whole life.

What it amounts to..

...I guess, is..

...starting from scratch and
selling myself all over again.

Ever try to sell something
that nobody wanted to buy?

- Connie, I--
- Don't, Linc.

- Why not?
- Why not?

Linc, you can't just wander
back here after all these time

and pick up right where
you left off.

You're not the only one
that things

have happened to
since you've been gone.

And believe me, you're not
the only one who's been hurt.

You hurt me bad, Linc,
real bad.

Taking me in your arms isn't
going to help me forget it.


You talk about needing someone
to show some confidence in you..

Why couldn't you have shown
a little in me?

Didn't you know that no matter
how cut up you were

mentally or physically, you
could've come right back to me

and that's all
I would've cared about.

Perhaps I needed some time
to pull myself back together.

I didn't want
you all together.

I wanted you
all the pieces.

So I could show you
how much I loved you

by helping you
get back.

'I'll try to make
it brief, sir.'

'I'd like to quote something
you said in a speech once.'

You said that the most important
requirement of a test pilot

is the desire to be
a test pilot.

No doubt about it.

Well, that I've got, sir.

And I think my record
will back me up.

Then you went on to say
that the second-most

important requirement
is stability.

That's right.

And since you brought up
your record, I..

Go ahead, major.

Well, sir, unfortunately,
at this point

the only way I can prove
my stability

is for somebody
to let me prove it.

Also, unfortunately

nobody who's in a position
to let you prove it

could possibly ignore
everything on your record.

No, sir, they couldn't.

The only reason that I'm
taking up more of your time

is to try to impress you
with my complete desire

to be a test pilot.

In regards to my stability,

...I think I'm qualified
there again, sir.

I'm sorry but the answer
is still no.

Alright, sir, may I take you up
on your offer of last Saturday?

Some other job
on the base?

You didn't seem
very interested Saturday.

What made you
change your mind?

Well, when it came time
to leave, I..

I realized that even if
I couldn't do test-flying

I'd still like to be around
where it's being done.

I'm afraid I've gotta
say no to that too

because it,
it wouldn't work.

And I quote you
right back..

You mentioned your complete
desire to be a test pilot.

We both know that there
isn't any substitute.

But maybe there's another way,
a better way.

Nobody knows all the answers,
least of all, me.

But I do know some
testing procedure.

Suppose you have
to determine the stability

of an experimental aeroplane,
how would you proceed?

I'd work up to it, sir,
step by step.

You nibble at the problem.

Now, on that basis
I'm going to change my mind.

I'll go along with you
for that first step.

I'm willing to re-assign you
as a test pilot.

But you'll be limited
to chase and pace.

None of the major projects.

- I understand, sir.
- Alright, it's up to you.

Yes, sir.
Thank you, general.

[engine whirring]

- Bill..
- General.

Senator, may I present
General Bill Banner

he runs the show here.

I've been hearing about you
for years, Banner.

Thank you, sir, I hope
you had a comfortable trip.

Very smooth. General Shelby
is a good pilot.

Don't tell me you finally
broke down and got an aid.

Yes, sir.
Gentlemen, Lt. Sweeney.


Isn't that Lincoln Bond?

'Yes, Bromo's checking him out
on the XF-120.'

- How long has he been here now?
- Little over two months.

I was surprised
when you took him here.

- How's he doing?
- Alright so far.

[engine rumbling]

That about covers it.

And remember she's got
a high rate of sink.

Your first landing, come in
flat with plenty of power.

- Hard to judge the flare out.
- Roger Wilco.

And try to bring it back in one
large attractive piece, huh?

I'll bend every effort.

- All checked out?
- Yeah.

I get to do it
all by myself now.

This makes just about
everything on the base

you checked out on now,
doesn't it?

Just about.

How you coming along with Bromo?

I'd say, I was
winning him over, slowly.

At least, he stopped foaming
at the mouth

every time my name's mentioned.

That's progress.
You can't get away from him.


I'll see you later.

[engine droning]


[indistinct chattering on radio]

(man on radio)
'That was flight 745 taxing.'

[indistinct chatter on radio]

Quite a view.

Sixty four square miles of level
rock-hard landing surface.

We figure you save the country,
a quarter of a billion dollars

in safe emergency landings.

Edwards is one of ten centers
under General Shelby

and Aero Search
and Development Command

but it's developed into
a pretty big operation.

I have over 8000 people
on duty here.

[indistinct chatter on radio]

There's our rocket engine test
station right over there

in those hills.

High altitude speed course,
deceleration track.

All this is just
a bird's eye view..

Oh, there's the Gilbert 120
taking off right now.

[engine droning]

'Yes, Mr. Gilbert was telling me
we really got something there.'

Before I came here, I thought
you tested mainly airplanes

at Edwards.
Just what is your mission?

Quality. Flying hardware of
better quality than the enemy.

Not just the aircraft but
the power plant, the armament

the RADAR, everything that goes
with the vehicle

to make up a complete
weapon system.

How long have you been in
command here, Bill?

Well, it's going
on six years now, sir.

I'm just really getting
broken in, Senator.

What it boils down to, is this.

Our whole future air strategy
rests on the accuracy

of the data, our guys pass on to
the planners at Washington.

I'd call that a good sized

We try and pick the good ones
and throw out the bad.


What was that?

Sonic boom. An aircraft
penetrating the sound barrier.

[engine droning]

[engine whirring]


You're looking at an engine
right now with enough thrust

to reach outer space.

- What's stopping you?
- Money.

Then the guiding system.
We're still perfecting it.


(male announcer)
'Attention! Final warning for
ten second countdown.'

This high speed track is the
world's fastest

and straightest railway.

- 'Ten. Nine.'
- Sled'll do 1500 miles/hour.

'That way we can make
some tests on the ground'

'without risking the pilot.'

(male announcer)

(male announcer)


[engine revving]

Senator, there you see
an Air Force tanker refueling

a bomber and two fighters
at the same time.

'Yes. A B-66, an F-100,
an F-101.'

'Some of our latest aircraft.'


[engine whirring]

- Bye, Senator.
- Thanks a lot.

- Goodbye, general.
- It's a pleasure, sir.

[engine rumbling]

Carry on.

We just intercepted a radio
call, Mickey, what's going on?

Major Bond just called in, sir.
Having trouble with the 120.

Says he's got
aileron on reverse.

(man #2 on radio)
'Edwards Control to Major Bond.
What's your present position?'

I'm eight miles south to
the lake at 22000 ft., Edwards.

I'm trying another roll
to the same side.

[engine whirring]

'There she goes again,
Edwards Control.'

I think I've got something else.

[ominous music]

I've got wrinkles in the skin.
My left wing.

This is General Banner, how bad
are the wrinkles, Bond?

- Not too bad, sir.
- Can you land safely?

- 'Affirmative, General.'
- Alright, bring her in.

- Keep checking on that wing.
- Roger.

(man on radio)
'Control to Major Bond,
you're cleared'

'for an immediate landing
on runway 22.'

[engine rumbling]

[dramatic music]

[engine whirring]

- What'd you do? Pull ten Gs?
- No, sir. Less than five.

- Report to my office.
- Yes, sir.

[engine whirring]

Did you authorize Bond to carry
out any stability tests?

No, sir. It was strictly
a check up.

- I recommend, sir--
- Yes, Connie?

- Major Bond is here, sir.
- Send him in.

Come in, Major.

What's the story, Linc?

It's the wings, General.

They won't take the design load
on a rolling pull out.

Until, they're
beefed up stronger

you've got
a dangerous airplane.

Somebody's gonna
pull the wings off.

I don't agree, General.

I pulled more than five Gs with
no sign of structural weakness.

You must've exceeded
design limits.

It happened exactly at 4.5 Gs.

You must've pulled more Gs than
that. Maybe you blacked out?

No, sir, I didn't black out.
I'm sure it's gust loads.

Hitting few bumps for a fraction
of a second would do it.

If it could happen to me
it's gonna happen to others.

Bromo Lee is plenty capable
of running phase four tests

on that aircraft. You were up
there for familiarization.

Why did you start
your own private test program?

Sir, I stumbled on a condition
that didn't feel right.

I wasn't looking for it.

But when it happened
I thought I oughta pin it down.


But Gilbert's chief engineer
tells me, you must be mistaken.

Maybe he can explain
the wrinkles, sir.

The question is
what really caused them?

You're telling us, Major Bond,
we're committing ourselves

to mass production of a fighter
with a dangerous defect?

Yes, sir. I am.

Mickey, is the other 120
in commission?

It'll be ready tomorrow, sir.

Set it up for me. Linc, I want
you to fly chase.

And help me duplicate the exact
conditions you encountered.

General, since Bromo's been
directly responsible

for this project, it'll save
time if he flew with Bond

on the first one.

Save my time? What do you think
I'm here for, Mickey?

Very well, sir.

That's all for now, gentlemen.

Bill, you suppose bond pressed
the panic button up there?

I'm gonna find out.

How do you feel about
his reliability?

It's this simple.

If I were commanding an army and
he was guarding my left flank

I'd be running there every 30
minutes to check up.

Why you wasting
your time on him?

Well, because what I said just
now is a personal feeling.

I'm gonna judge him on
performance, nothing else.

[engine droning]

You know, Bill, this X2 may well
be as far as we can go

with a human pilot.

And expect him to survive.

Yes, I know.

How soon are you starting tests
with rocket power?

Not for several months.
We've lot of blind drops to do.

Decided on our pilot for it.

I'll take that one, sir.

That's been my pet project
from the beginning.

[phone rings]

I've watched six years, nine
million dollars and the brains

of 280 engineers go
into that X2. Excuse me, sir.

- Banner.
- 'This is Harvey Gilbert.'

Yes, Mr. Gilbert.

'What's this about wrinkles
in the wing? Is it true?'

Yes, that's right.
News travels fast.

'...accepting his report?'

We don't know yet.
We'll find out tomorrow.

Of all people, we don't consider
a brainwashi qualified

to say we've got
a bad airplane.

I'd like to come up there
right away.

Fine, we'd be glad to see ya.

Alright, Mr. Gilbert, goodbye.

Well, he's in a real storm.

Well, I can't say I blame him.
I'm equally concerned.

Bill, running Air Research and
Development Command

has turned into
a tremendous responsibility.

I could sure use you
at my headquarters.

How soon do you think you can
wind it up here?

Wind it up sir?

Oh, I can't leave this job now

right in the middle of all the
new projects we're getting into.

Not that I don't appreciate
your asking me.

I know there's no job
more important than yours.

I'm glad you agree we're not
exactly an old man's home

back there in Baltimore.

Leave some of the strenuous
testing to Mickey and Bromo.

The others.

Oh, it's good for
the circulation, General.

Just remember, you and I
aren't getting any younger.

Yes, Connie.

I have the 104
data here, sir.

Oh, good let's have a look.

That's all.

- Hey, Connie?
- Yes, sir.

Do you think I'm getting old?

Well, I'd say that's
the usual procedure.

I mean maybe I'm too old to
compete with these youngsters

around here.

- You mean flying?
- All departments.

In experience, I'd say
you're older than Moses.

But you seem ten years
younger than you are.

It's a good definition of what
the commander here better be.

You know, Connie, one thing
I'm not going to do

is get my brains knocked out at
any high school competition

over you. I'd lose that one.

All I'm asking is that I be
the first one you tell.

Of course, I will.

The first thousandth
of a second, I know.

[instrumental music]

[engine rumbling]

Oh, wait. Mr. Gilbert,
this is Major Bond, sir.

- Mr. Gilbert.
- Oh, yes.

Lincoln Bond.
Structural Engineer.

Just a pilot,
Mr. Gilbert.

Very modest of you.

I was just talking with
Gilbert's chief test pilot.

He inspected the damage
and frankly he thinks

you're out of your mind.

However, I'm going ahead
with the test anyway.

Yes, sir.

[engine revving]

[music on juke box]

Give me a double. Honest double.

Do you mean that, sir?

Yeah, I wanna see how four
ounces of alcohol

affects a flyer's judgment.

[music continues]

Connie, I didn't know you
were working the West Coast.

Linc, you've a real important
day ahead of you tomorrow.

They're all important, honey.

It's just that some are little
more depressing than others.

However,if it bothers you
to see me to lush it.

I'll wait it out
until you've gone.

What's the matter? You're afraid
you're wrong?

I have a feeling I've never been
right a day in my life.

It should show one way
or other shouldn't it?

It should but then you
never know.

I know one thing, mister.

Anybody who's thinking about
having any kind of tussle at all

with Bill Banner had better
think it over carefully

because he's really in the heavy
weight division, Lincoln

he belongs there.

Yours could hardly be an
impersonal opinion, could it?

I just know the General
in question never ran away

from a thing in his life.
He faces things head on, Linc.

And when he does, people always
wonder what hit them.

There was a time when I thought
that you and the General

were two of a kind.

Let's just chalk it off to
girlish enthusiasm, shall we?

[music continues]

[sensuous music]

[door bell ringing]

Just a minute.

Hi. Am I still under
the 10 o' clock curfew?


- Well?
- Since you made it. Come in.

I juts want it made perfectly
clear that even if you hadn't

waded into me with those
bitter, stinging remarks

I still probably wouldn't
have taken that drink.

Because I believe basically
people don't change.

I'm a man who's never run away
from anything in his life.

I don't know whether you know
it or not, Connie

but I've always been a man
who's faced things head on.

Whenever I have, people always
wondered what hit them.

If you've ever had any other
impression of me

you've been wrong.
Unfairly wrong.

I should be boiled
in very warm oil.

- At least.
- How about some coffee?

No, sir, because I've got
a very important day tomorrow.

And I believe a man should get
to bed early before such a day.

Well, hurray for you,
Horatio Alger.

[instrumental music]

Thanks for the help, lady.

Any red blooded girl interested
in experimental aircraft

would've done the same.

Ha ha. Hey, that's very good.

About the red blooded girl

in experimental aircraft.
Very good indeed.

[instrumental music]

You know all the people around
here who think I'm going crazy

like Gilbert's chief pilot, he's
an awfully good man, Connie.

Maybe I did read those
instruments wrong.

At Red Prison they got me to
where two and two

looked like five.
Maybe I am crazy.

I'm betting my own money that
you're right in this thing.

Sure, what do all those
old highly trained engineers

know about it?

Will you please relax, Linc?

[music continues]

[engine droning]

It'd be too smooth today
at 20000.

Well, if we don't find the right
conditions there, General

Bromo reported
some turbulence lower down.

[engine droning]

All set, Bond. Now, give me
the exact conditions.

Okay, General, start
a shallow dive.

Stay 40 knots below
critical Mach number

at 95 percent rpm.

Pull 4.5 Gs and a steep bank
to the left.

'Then give it,
three quarter air rock.'


What is this,
you're giving us, Bond?

Everything's normal.
I pulled more than 5 Gs too.

(Bond on radio)
'I'm afraid the air is too
svelte at this altitude.'

'No gust blows that time.'

(Banner on radio)
'I'll try lower over the
mountains at the Pass.'

'Ought to be bumpy
enough there.'


'Giving it 4.5 Gs now, Bond.'

I can't find anything wrong.

I guess we're not getting quite
the same conditions, General.

You mean wrinkles in the wings,
you're right. Returning to base.



[engine revving]

Well, Mr. Gilbert, everything's
seemed normal to me.

That's not conclusive.

The fact remains that one of my
pilots did get wrinkles

and till we find out why, Mickey
I want the phase four test

done over from the beginning.

Assign Joe Craven to work with
Bromo on the 120 full time.

- Double check everything.
- Yes, sir.

I'm all for caution, General
but it can't be overdone.

Specially in view

I repeat I think
you're airplane is okay.

But if there's one chance
in a million that Major Bond

stumbled on something.
Now's the time to find it.

I'm confident you won't
find anything.

Unless the design limits
are exceeded. Right, Major?

Who knows, Mr. Gilbert
what a limit really is?




It's funny.
Trippin over my own feet.

Me and my big feet.

You don't look too well,

Oh, I'm alright.

The flu's going around. You
oughta see the flight surgeon.

Flight surgeon?
No, I feel fine.


You've been General Banner's
friend longer than anyone else.

I suppose it's occurred to you
he can't stay here forever?

Oh, I hadn't given it any
thought, sir.

You know how he flies
all the winds himself.

Finds it hard to delegate

Mickey, it's time to think about
another commander.

But his whole life
is test flying, sir.

Naturally it'll be
an important promotion.

Boot him upstairs

when every pilot on this base
would crawl on his belly

to Chicago for it?

Mickey, what he's got
in his head is too valuable.

General, he wouldn't understand.

Do you want to risk losing him
to some big company

like Gilbert Aircraft?

I know he's had
some fancy offers.

That's where you come in. I'm
talking to the next commander.

Start getting ready. Take all
the load off General Banner.

Aren't you placing me in an
awkward position, sir?

Let's say an unusual position.

One that involves loyalty
to General Banner.

I don't know what to say, sir.

You know him better
than anybody.

Nudge his elbow every chance
you get about the challenge.

The bigger challenge waiting
for him in Baltimore.

I'll try, General.

But you're handing me
an awful big pair of shoes.

[instrumental music]

[engine revving]

Okay, sergeant, pop it out.

With this amount of drag, you'll
drop from 20000 feet

like a rock.

We figure 4000 feet
to be the lowest altitude

you can get rid of this
deceleration chute

with a safe margin to pull out.

Suppose the electrical release

have you got
a manual release for me?

Yeah we've installed one
just in case.

Good. You know the old saying,
"If it can go wrong, it will."

You wouldn't change your mind,
would you, General?

You know, I've been kinda
hurting to do this test myself.

You've got enough to do.
I can't spare you right now.

I was thinking, sir, Linc Bond's
got this current as anyone

on this F-94. They want you
pretty badly at the conference.

I think he'd be okay
to do this test.

You know my policy, Mickey, Bond
is limited to chase and pace.

Well, I knew that was
your policy, sir.

But he's been putting out
harder than..

I think he's really
earned the right, sir.

I know he's putting out.
Just leave it that way.

You see what I mean about Bond?

'He's been bumming rides in the
B-66 in his spare time.'

'I don't when
the guy ever sleeps.'

You're pressing, Mickey. So is
Linc. Pressing too hard, maybe.

Trying to prove something.
That alone can make him a risk.

[engine whirring]

Oh, thanks.

Oh, never mind, Connie.
No more coffee.

I think I'll knock off.

Why don't you take off, Connie?
You're probably late for a date.

That's alright.

That reminds me. When's that
wing-ding Lillian's giving?

- Thursday night.
- I guess we'd better go.

Help celebrate Joe Craven's

When you said we, were you
including me?

Of course. Why?
Somebody else ask you?

Incredible though it may seem,
somebody did.

Lincoln Bond.

Make a note in your book to
remind me to ask you sooner.

That won't be necessary. You did
ask me over a week ago.

I told Linc,
I was going with you.

Hmm, that's a mark
of a good commander.

Instinctively he does
the right thing.

- I did.
- You certainly did.

But don't you go assuming
I would've said no to Linc

if he'd asked first.

Oh, before you go. The mayor's
appointment tomorrow.

Will you be down
from your test by nine?

Better change him to 9:30.

And operations called about
your chase pilot.

Bromo has to go to El Centro.

Mickey's tied up too.

They said Bond was available.

- Alright, make it Bond.
- I'll tell them.

- Thursday night, then.
- 'Affirmative, General.'

Okay, Bond, I'm deploying
the chute.


You fouled up, General.
You're only half open.

Getting plenty of drag though.

- I've got 4300 feet, General.
- Roger.

It's about that time.
There she goes.

[dramatic music]

- You've strung up the shoot.
- 'I know it.'

Both release
has mal-functioned, Linc.

Well, maybe I can land anyway.
The chute's only half open.

Negative. Might open
all the way any second.

'If it does, you'll
spin like a top.'

I'm gonna have to try
to snag the chute.

Don't try it, Linc. Pull away.

[music continues]

[music continues]

That was close.

Can you hold
that position, Linc.

I'll have to hold it
right through the landing.

I don't want the chute to pull
lose and open again.

Okay. I'm landing straight
ahead on the lake.


For Pete's sake don't lose me.


We'll leave everything as is
until they photograph it.

Yes, sir.

Well, Linc,
how much do I owe you?

A couple of bucks
ought to care of it.

Two dollars, huh?

A minute ago my neck
wasn't worth two cents.

Well, no sweat, huh?

No sweat.

Lucky we didn't
need the rescue boys.

Yeah. They would've
been a little late.

Too far out.

You know, Linc,
I can't figure you out.

In these emergencies..

Well, it just doesn't jibe
with that business in Korea.

Of course, you never
did tell me your version of it.

I wish you would though.

Maybe if I understood
what really happened.

Something beside
the inhuman treatment.

What they use?
Drugs, truth serum?

No, sir.

Well, it just doesn't figure.

Even with torture,
you're not the kind to crack.

What made you do it, Linc?

Have you ever been in solitary
confinement, general?

Tortured mentally
24 hours a day.

Physical torture is nothing
compared to the things

they've learned
to do to a man's mind.

That covers it, huh?

Well, it's something
entirely new, sir.

If a man hasn't
been through it

it's no use trying
to explain it.

Look, I'm trying
to give you a break.

Give me something to go on.

What does it take, general?

You think I'm hard
to convince, huh?

Well, I am.

I always have been when the
test date issued a flaw.

Can't you give me
a better reason?

I wish I could, sir.

Well, at least you showed me
something today.

Another step, shall we say?

And if I step you
into something more important

what's your first choice?

Rocket flight.

X-2 project.

Ah, that's a big step.
Too big maybe.

I always had
Mickey and Bromo in mind

to work with me on the X-2.

However, Bromo's still got his
hands full with the Gilbert job.

- I'll talk it over with Mickey.
- Yes, sir.

[sirens wailing]

[indistinct chattering]

♪ Of we go into the
wild blue yonder ♪


Come on, Carmen.

Come on.

You don't want me to have
to right in my log book

that you're
uncooperative, do you?

I'm not going to your quarters
for a nightcap

or anything else.

I just wanted you
to see how much

my wonder box
geraniums had grown. did.

Come on, Carmen.

Come on.

- Hiya, Jimmy.
- Hello, Linc.

How about all this
fancy dan flying you're doing?

Trying to make
Chuck Yeager look bad?

Chuck could fly better than that
before he ever saw a plane.

So much modesty to be in just
one little old Korean hero.

A couple of real sharp
chase pilots you got tonight.

Chase is right.

I don't like him very much.


The only man now alive
who's flown an aeroplane

with no wings..

...faster than sound.

I was in a hurry.


It's just no way to live.

You're always
so jumpy and jittery

and popping right out
of your skin

every time you hear his voice.

Just because I always
try to be cognizant

to my duty.

Don't know what that means,
but I do know

all he has to do is say hello,
and you shoot up 14 feet.

Debbie, I wish you'd try not
to exaggerate every time.

Hello, Sweeney.

Oh, oh, oh!

Honestly, you did it again.
You embarrass me so much!

'Why do you always
do that sort of thing?'

His heart's going
to give out long before

he makes first lieutenant.

Ha ha!

[instrumental music]

Oh, so soon.

Well, Joe and Polly
have finally gotten here.

Let's go.

- Hi, Joe.
- Good evening, general.

Those look awfully good,
colonel. Congratulations.

- Thank you, Connie.
- You too, Polly.

- Congratulations, Joe.
- Thank you.

What does his promotion
really mean to you, Polly?

Well, for the first time in our
marriage, food on the table.

When did we get a table?

I'll be right back.


Any messages for anybody
in the powder room?

No. But on your way past the bar

would you mind telling
my husband

that his leave from me
has just expired?

I always like to be
the bearer of bad news.

Then as we pulled
into a steep climb--

You will be sorry to hear
that you were just shot down.

Sarah's reeling in her apron
strings again, is she?


I was saving that
to go to camp this summer.


Here you sit all by yourself

and there are literally 50 girls

who are drooling
for you to ask them out.

You know that,
but nobody ever tells me.

Nobody tells you.

I suppose that little red head
at the PX isn't telling you.

Every time she sees you

she goes into
that exaggerated model's walk.

She throws her hips
out so far you wonder

if they're ever coming back.

Well, I assume, naturally

that she has some sort of
trouble with her back.

Aren't you going
to join us at the table.

Oh, I was afraid a man
all by himself

would put a crimp in the fun
you couples are having.

You're just a lonely
wanderer, aren't you?

I don't think so.

Well, I hope I see you
at the table.

Have a drink on me.

No, thanks, Bromo.
I was just leaving.

Yeah, maybe your wise
at that, buddy-buddy.

'Cause I hear you've been
bucking real hard

for the job tests on the X-2.

And I kind of consider
that belongs to me.

Good luck.

I don't like you, mister.

I'll go home and stick
my head in the oven.

Oh, I got a better idea.

Let's go outside,
and I'll knock it off for you.

Come on, Bromo.
I've got--


Hey, don't hit him again.
He's drunk.


He held my arms.

He shouldn't
have held my arms.

How could you hit him?

You didn't see
what happened, Bill.

It was on account of that man
over there trying to stop him.

Whatever it was
you better get home.

Yes, sir.

Come on, men,
give him a hand.


Let's get back to the table.

We can't just..

Alright, Bill.
You go ahead.

I'll only be a minute.


If only that guy
hadn't held me.

I know, Linc.
I know.

Look, Connie,
you're with the general.

You better go back.

It's perfectly alright.

Please, it's bad enough now.

I want to talk to you.

Go on back in, will you?

Better go in there,
and explain how it happened.

That's the worse thing
I could do.

I know he'd understand.

Better for him to think

that I go around socking
helpless people

than peg me
for a psycho.

You've got
to do something.

Leave it alone.

- I'm going back to the base.
- I think I better go with you.

Don't you understand?

The general gave me
my chance and I muffed it.

If he gave me another, I still
wouldn't have the right to..

Finally it happened.

Blew my top.

That's what they've
all been waiting for.

Nobody's been waiting for it.

They're pulling for you.

It's going to be alright.

You still don't get it.

I'll spell it out.

The Reds hammered me
to my limit and broke it.

I put a patch over it,
and hoped it would hold.

For months now, I've been
praying that it would hold.

Trying to hide it.

Now the patch is pulled off.

It's over.

No, Linc, it isn't.

It's all over.

Goodbye, Connie.

[foot steps]

- Hi there, Linc.
- Hi, Hank.

- The party over.
- No, it's still going.

What are you doing
here so late?

We got a glide drop coming up.

Hope you get in on her.

Been making any hit way
with the old man?

Afraid not.

Just thought I'd drop by
and see how it was going.

You, uh, changed the stick?


Moved it half an inch forward.

Go ahead and try it out.

Any better?

I'd even give it a little more.

Of course, it's not up to me.
I wish it were.

Well, you're about the
same size as the general.

Like sitting in the nose
of a guided missile.

I guess that's what
it would be like, alright

when she carries a man
right up to outer space.

Only I'll never know.

You'd like to Hank,
wouldn't you?

Be the first?

Who wouldn't, Linc.


[dramatic music]

'And to have this kind
of behavior'

'from two of our officers'

'well,'s just not the
sort of thing we point to'

'with pride in the Air Force.'

I just can't drink.
I know that, sir.

But you proved you could stay
away from it, Bromo

for three years
until last night.

Now since this
is your first slip with me

I'm gonna leave it this way.

Some people just can't drink.

If you ever take another, your
career in the Air Force is over

I'll see to that.

I think the general
can count on me.



'Sir, can we give
out a statement'

'on the chute emergency

No! I don't want the
drag chute story released yet.

- 'Yes, sir.'
- Not yet.

'How do you want me
to handle it, sir?'

- We've had several inquiries.
- Alright. Then hold them off!

[knock on door]


Sir, major here is Bond.

I mean Major Bond is here, sir.

Send him in.

I was about to send for you.

Have you talked
to any newspaper men?

No, sir.

Somebody leaked a premature
report on our chute emergency.

I dropped by your
quarters last night.

Where were you?

I returned to the base,
and then to my quarters later.

You weren't there
when I looked for you.

Excuse me, general, it'll
save a lot of questions--

Just let me handle
the questions.

The big question is what am I
supposed to do about that show

that you put on with Bromo Lee
in a public place?

If I ground you
you'll be dead weight.

If I take strong--

May I say something, general?

I came in here to resign
from the Air Force.

So you're, you're
ready to quit, hmm?

I never should've started.

You had to start somewhere.

I appreciate your giving me
a chance against your instincts.

Let's say in spite
of my prejudice.

Your first judgment
was right, sir.

Have a seat, Linc.

What I wanted to talk to you
about last night..

No, thanks.

...I got to thinking that over.

It just didn't add up.

You slugging Bromo Lee.

Unless there was something else.

That's right, sir.
It was a mental thing.

That's why I want out.

I was about ready to put you
into the X-2 project.

So you want to admit
failure, huh, Linc?

Look, I've gone along
with you this far

I'd feel like it
was my failure too.

I'm sorry, sir. I'm just
afraid I'd mess things up.

Ever read William Faulkner?

Yes. Most of his stuff.

Well, than maybe you'll
remember something he said

when he accepted
the Nobel Prize.

It's sort of, sort of goes

to the heart of the job here
at the flight test center.

Something like,
"Man will not only endure

he will prevail."

Some men, yes.

You'll never know
where you'll find it, Linc.

[knock on door]

Excuse me, sir.
It's Col. McKee. An emergency.

Craven's having trouble, sir.

Aileron reverse,
she just snap rolled on him.

'Chase pilot to Craven.'

'Chop your throttle, Joe.'

'Just turn everything loose.'

Okay, Joe, you're out of it.

Level off.

Craven from Gen. Banner.

You okay, Joe?

'No sweat now, general.'

'but I was real busy there
for a minute.'

'I sure got the reversal.'

[dramatic music]

General, I've got wrinkles
in both wings.

'How bad, Joe?'

Worse than Bond got.

Chase to Craven.
Hold your level.

I'll have a closer
look underneath.

Wrinkles underneath too, Joe.

I'm afraid you're
gonna have to leave her.

(Gen. Banner)
'Chase pilot from Gen. Banner.'

'You're sure it's
that bad, Harry?'

Affirmative, general.

The wrinkles are flexing bad
in the left wing. May come off.

General, I still think
maybe I can land.

Negative, Joe.
Get out, get out.

- Bail out now.
- Okay, general.

But I'd like Harry to get some
pictures of those wrinkles

before I fire myself
out of here.

'Use your own judgment, but I
advise you to bail out now.'

Hardly take a minute, sir.

Okay, Harry.

'I'm ready to eject.'

'Stay clear.'

(Gen. Banner)
'Bail out, Joe.

'Can you hear me?'
'Bail out!'

'Joe, fire the canopy.'

'Joe, bail out.'

Joe, fire the canopy.

'Get out of there.
Fire the canopy, Joe.'

[dramatic music]

'Too late, general.'

'His chute opened too late.'

Just the instant before he hit.

Are you sure, Harry?

'Positive, general.
He was too low.'

'Never had a chance.
He...he's had it, sir.'

[sirens wailing]

Well, I guess there's
nothing we can do.

I let him wait too long.

It's not that, sir.

He, he never answered any calls.

He must've been knocked out.

Mickey, you know Polly
better than I do.

- It might help--
- I can tell her, sir.

Only Linc really knows Joe and
Polly better than any of us.

- Maybe..
- Do you mind, Linc?

- No, sir. I'll tell her.
- Thanks.

I'll send the flight surgeon
and the chaplain over later.

- 'I'll drop in shortly.'
- Yes, sir.

Why do they always have
to have two or three kids?

Hiya, Linc.
Come on in.

Hi, Uncle Linc.

Daddy hasn't come home yet.

Hi, Uncle Linc.


Maybe we'd better go inside.


I heard it.

He was..

Well, it was instantaneous.

Let me get Sarah McKee for you.

Not yet.

Please, just excuse me,
will you, Linc?

You know, I've been
ready for a long time.

Kids, how about going to
Aunt Sarah's for ice cream?

Yeah, yeah!

Okay, let's go.
Thanks, Uncle Linc.

How'd she take it, Linc?

General, she's got more guts
than anybody you ever saw.

Think she's ready
to see me yet?

Yes, sir. I think she'd
really appreciate it.

I want to thank you
for going over there.

We've got a big job ahead
of us with this X-F 120.

Major modifications
on that wing and all that.

It'll be your project
of course if you want it.

- Sir, I appreciate that very--
- Ah, Linc.

I hope this has knocked out
all ideas of your resigning.

Well, general, it hasn't
changed the primary reason

that I felt
I should resign.

The fact that Joe went in
still doesn't change the fact

that I went
sky high last night.

Why shouldn't you
have gone sky high?

If a man's taken
a lot of nasty beatings

while somebody's
holding his arms

he'd have to be an insensitive
idiot not to react violently

when he felt somebody
was holding his arms again.

What would you do
if you got out?

You'd make a rotten
insurance salesman anyway.

I wouldn't care
to argue that point.

Well, sir, if I'm back
on the payroll

what you said about working
into the X-2 rocket program

sounded awfully good.

Alright, Linc,
you've got it.

Thank you, sir.

[engine roaring]

Okay, Linc.
8000 feet.

Count off for drop.

Five, four, three

'two, one.'


Hank, I'm still getting
a little buffeting in the nose.

Stability could be better.

'Stalling action, good.'

Linc to Harry.

Are you sure my nose
wheel is straight?

[siren wailing]

How was it?

You ought to know.

- Wow!
- Same way I felt.

That was really
something, Mickey.

But the real charge
would be with rocket power.

The old man's set on doing
that himself.

I think it's
a younger pilot's job.

- I know.
- I got this much out of him.

I get to do this next drop
with partial rocket power.

I want you to get qualified
to be my launch panel operator.

Well, that's something anyway.

[engine roaring]

Passing 20,000 feet.

Launch panel cameras on.

Selector switch, off.

Count for jettison.

Five, four, three

'two, one.'

Locks, jettison,
switches open.


Come off the X-2!

Come off the X-2!

Get out, Mickey.
Get out quick.

Bond to pilot.
Drop her! Drop her quick!

'Yes. Yes, sir, that's right.'

'Well, what happened?'

'We don't know, general.'

'They told me she just blew.'

Something more Barn,
but we haven't--

'Well, anyway, this settles it.'

I'm not taking anymore
chances with you.

On the test
with full rocket power

you've got to assign
somebody else.

The day I can't run
my own show

I'm turning in my suit
for a different model.

'Don't be pig headed,
and stubborn.'

'I'm sorry,
but if you tie my hands--'

'Nothing personal, Bill.'

'I'm just thinking
of the Air Force.'

'Yes, general,
I appreciate that.

'But we need you here
in Baltimore.'

'Okay. But not until this one's
finished. This one's mine.'

'Remember what
I told you.'

'We're not getting any younger.'

'Yes, sir. Goodbye.'

That was a real close call
for Mickey McKee, wasn't it?

Yes, it was.

Mickey said you must've
been almost psychic.

As if you'd had premonition.

I don't go for that.

The instruments weren't
reading quite right.

Anyway, testing is based
on facts not premonitions.

Linc, there's still one thing

after all this time I don't
understand about test flying.


Why anyone should want to do it?

Well, why do you think?

I haven't the slightest idea.

At first, I thought maybe it had
to do with something silly like

proving to each other
what real good he-men you were.

But I never met one of you
that needed to prove that.

Maybe it's the money.

No, I'm serious.

It's a mystery to all
the other women I know.

Well, part of it is the
excitement and satisfaction.

Doing something
for the first time.

The challenge.

That's a very small part.

When you love flying

you know that the aeroplane
wants to fly right.

You get a compulsion to make it
as perfect as you can.

But with you and Bill and the
others, it's almost fanatical

like a religion.

Ever heard of
a good ballplayer

who lived much
of anything but baseball?

Or a woman that didn't know

that the...only really
important thing in life

was having children?

But that happens to be true

because if we didn't have them
where'd you get

all your ballplayers or..

Test pilots?

That's right.

Is Bill Banner still planning

to fly the big test
in the new X-2?


Should he do it?

Have you or Mickey explained
to him that he shouldn't?

No, Gracie Allen, we haven't.

Just the same, if Bill
shouldn't fly that test

and everybody knows
that he shouldn't

then somebody should tell him.

Yes, they should.

Linc, I'm almost..

I probably shouldn't ask.

But what's Bill going to be
up against in the X2?

Well, you can't say exactly.

First time a man goes over
a hundred thousand feet..

...three or four times
the speed of sound

hits the heat barrier
where the friction of the air

makes the wings white-hot.

And the pilot has a fraction
of a second to make decisions.

Why did they have to use
anything as dangerous

as rockets anyway?

There isn't any choice.

No other type of engine
develops enough power.

Those two rockets
in the tail of the X2

give it enough power
to drive a battleship.

Linc, do you have any idea?

Well, any premonition
about Bill?

I don't have premonitions.

[instrumental music]

Connie, you've said
Bill four times?

If it weren't Bill
it would be another pilot.

You know it's Bill.

Yes, I guess it is.

Well, I got an early
take off tomorrow.

- 'Do you have to go?'
- Yes, ma'am.

Goodnight, Linc.

At least I'm glad
it doesn't have to be you.

You haven't understood a word
I've been saying, have you?

I'd give anything if it were
going to be me up there.

[music continues]

And I'd give anything
if it were me

instead of Bill Banner
down here.

I don't know.

She oughta be ready for
a try at full rocket power

but how can you be sure?

This time she's going
right out of this world.

Let's face it, Hank,
you'll never be sure.

Maybe one more time
with one rocket.

I don't see why, Hank.

Mickey and I have already
done three more drops

than we did on the old X2.

Everything is
checking out okay.

Maybe you're right.

Well, whatever
General Banner says.

Yeah. See ya, Hank.

Any chance he'll let
one of you fly?

Not a prayer,
you know the general.

Thanks for the coffee.

Tomorrow's okay with Hank
if it's okay with you, sir.

Then it's on.

Something else
isn't okay though.

Ever since you went
to Baltimore, Mickey

there's been new heat
on me to delegate this test

to a younger pilot.

Now I get a TWX that's
a next thing to an order.

Did you have anything
to do with this?

They pinned me down, general
I gave them a straight answer.

Younger pilot,
you for instance?


Or Linc.

We've been friends
for a long time, Mickey.

If I can't depend on
your absolute loyalty

I'd better get me
a new director for flight test.

If it's a question
of loyalty, sir

that'll never be necessary.


Alright, wheel and deal.

Set me up for
an 05:30 takeoff.

Yes, sir.

May I speak to
the general privately?

[door closing]

What's on your mind, Linc?

Well, sir, I never
wanted to ask a favor.

Pretty hard to turn you down.

Well, what I mean sir is..

...I'd like to make this
next flight in the X2.

- You too?
- I hope I'd earned the chance.

I've flown in her
as much as anyone now.

I don't know what's
the matter with you.

We know this
is gonna be a rugged one.

That makes it
my responsibility.

I have a responsibility
too, sir.

That day in
the locker room..

- What about it?
- You almost passed out.

- That could happen in the air.
- I told you, I tripped.

We both know
what happened, sir.

I think the flight surgeon
would agree with me.

You'd go to the flight surgeon?

I didn't say that, sir.

I know best whether
or not I'm safe to fly.

General, may I speak
off the record?

Go right ahead.

I know what it's like
to go through hell.

I've been there,
and I failed.

And I would've failed here too
if it hadn't been for you.

You gave me your confidence
and your respect.

You earned it.

Not my own respect.

'You reached your limit once
but that was all in the past.'

You would've held out
until they killed you.

Keep talking.

I think I've faced myself
on that score.

Have you faced yourself?

Have you faced the fact
that with your stubborn pride

your blind egotism
and time catching up with you

'you could jeopardize
this whole project?'

That's enough--

If you keep this up your failure
can be greater than mine was.

You're the only man alive
that could say that

to me that I'd listen to.

Is it true, Linc,
is it that bad?

I wish I didn't have
to be the one to say it.

Do the rest of them
think the same?

I can't speak for them.

Well, I'm not making
any promises.

But I can't fly them all.

Somebody else will
get their chance.

But not this time.

I still wish you'd
change your mind.

I guess that's all, Linc.

Very well, general.

[engine revving]

And I think you can count on the
zero wind for the landing.

Hello, Linc.
Hank, come on in.

- Coffee?
- No, thanks.

What's the problem?

Well, sir, it isn't
exactly a problem.

Hank was
wondering whether..

Well, maybe you better
tell the general, Hank.

General, I've been going
over the figures again

and could we have one more
drop at half power?

Just one rocket?

I know you're anxious
to go ahead--

I'm not that anxious, Hank.

Not until
you're satisfied.

Then I'd suggest, sir

that Major Bond repeat
exactly the same test

he made last week.

Well, the only thing
I don't like is the delay.

'I'd really feel
better, sir.'

What's your opinion, Linc?

Well, sir, everything checked
out normally on my last test

but it would give you just
that much more information

before using both rockets.

Certainly couldn't hurt.

Okay, Hank,
I'll approve one more.

You take it up, Linc.

You'll be getting a piece
of what you want anyhow.

'I appreciate it.'

After Bond's test
set me up

as soon as possible
for the final test.

- Both rockets, full power.
- 'Yes, sir.'

[door closes]


How about flying Chase
for you tomorrow?

Okay, Mickey?


(male announcer)
'Weather report's still
okay for take off time?'

Wind's subsiding.'

- 'Forward tank filled?'
- 'Check.'

- 'Aft tank filling?'
- 'Check.'

[instrumental music]

(male announcer)
'Operations inform Bond we still
have a zero wind for takeoff.'

'Affirmative, he knows.'

That liquid oxygen
is really frosting up now.

Snow's beginning
to form on the skin.

[intense music]


How do you feel, Linc?

I always get a few butterflies
with rocket power.

Yeah, so do I.

But using one rocket you can
stay below 70,000, alright.

No problem, sir.

- Good luck.
- Thank you, sir.

- Good luck, Linc.
- Thanks, Bromo.

[engine revving]

[engine droning]

[engine droning]

[engine droning]

Five thousand feet.

(male announcer)
'5-0-0-0 at 0-5-4-1'

'Paraplane oscillograph
on 60 seconds.'

'Launch panel camera on,
15 seconds.'

- 'Top off liquid level.'
- 'Okay.'

- 'Forward LOX tank?'
- 'Normal.'

- 'LOX tank pressure?'
- 'Okay.'

'Camera heaters, on.'


[engine droning]

'Four minutes to drop.'

'Flap circuit breaker, in.'

'Hawk number one
switch to run position.'

'Hawk number two
switch to run position.'

'Hydraulic pressure
gauge is 2000 psi.'

'Radar on.'

(male pilot)
'Two minutes to drop.'

[jet engine whooshing]

'Launch switch
to drop position.'

Launch switch
to drop position.

Data and oscillograph
switch is on

let's start up
a countdown.

Zero button in.

Calibrating button in.

Item 41 complete.

Item 42.

Indicated air speed, 2-0-0.

Starting dive.

Starting countdown for drop.

Five, four

'three, two'



[rocket igniting]

[rocket igniting]

There goes number two too.

'He's fired both rockets.'

- He's got full power, general.
- I know, I heard it.

What does he
think he's doing?

Did you give him
a choice, general?

Later, Hank.
Talk to me later.

[dramatic music]

Passing mach one.

'Got mach two.'

'Sixty thousand feet.'

'Seventy thousand feet.'

'Eighty thousand feet.'

'Ninety thousand feet.'

'Ninety five.'

'I'm in trouble.
She's rolling badly.'

'No directional control.'

I think I know what's wrong.

I've gotta change the tail.

Raise the fin higher.
Increase the area.

Everything's going haywire.
I can't..

[dramatic music]

'I can't. I..'

Ask Bromo if he's still
in contact with Bond?

Bell control to Major Lee.

Are you still reading the X2?


'His transmission
was getting garbled.'

'The last I heard, he was
firing the ejection system.'

Thank God.

[dramatic music]

[music continues]

[sirens wailing]

The flight surgeon is here, sir.
And Colonel McKee.

Send them in, Connie.

Come in.

How is he now, doc?

He's gonna make it, general.


Near as we can tell

a wind blast tore open
that experimental face plate

at high altitude
and passed him out.

And he's got a mild
brain concussion

and an injured hip.

Ah, Linc's a pretty
rugged customer.

He had to be.
It was that close.

He's still coming out
of a severe case of the bends.

Call for excellent
physical condition.

Oh, I know that.

Frankly, sir, a pilot your age
wouldn't have had a chance.

Well, sir, I better be
getting back to the hospital.

Thank you, doctor.

Well, Mickey, I've been
here a long stretch.

Seems like a lifetime.

Tests that came out
okay, and some bad.

'But in a way they were
all successful.'

What I meant
to say Mickey..

...I've got news for you.

I'm transferring
to headquarters

Air Research and
Development Command.

I'll recommend you
to succeed me.

We're gonna miss you, Bill.

I know you'll
do a great job.

- Thanks.
- Coffee?

No. thanks, Connie.

About Linc's flight, sir.

General Shelby's headquarters
wants to know

if he violated orders
going to full rocket power?

Of course, he didn't
violate orders.

I left it up to him.
Verbal orders.

Then we better amend this
operations order, officially.

- In writing.
- Alright.

It's amended.

- Line of duty.
- Yes, sir.

Connie, what are your plans?

I imagine I'll stay here.

Of course, I'd love
to have you go with me.

I'd love it too, Bill.

But you know that story
about the paratrooper

who was afraid to jump.

And the general asked him
why he became a paratrooper?

The boy said

"Because I like to be around
guys who like to jump."

I guess I'm that way
about the flight test center.


I know what you mean.

I'll miss these guys
around here, all of them.

Mickey, Linc.
Specially, Linc.

There's a big fire burning
out of control near the dump.

Tell them to put
it out, Sweeney.

Yes, sir.

But, sir, won't they just
naturally go ahead and..

Yes, sir, I'll tell them
to put it out.

Connie, I'll tell you how
much I think of Lincoln Bond.

He deserves you.

Now, you'd better get over
to the hospital, hmm?

Bill, I'm so sorry.

Look, you don't have
to worry about me.

Anybody who's waited as long
as I have to get married

probably knows subconsciously

what a rotten husband
he'd be anyway.

Don't give me that!

I'm tellin' you
what the man said.

I'm not responsible
for the caliber of orders

that are given around here.

Under this antiquated
military system

they're given to me
and I pass 'em on.

Lieutenant Sweeney.

I'm leaving for Baltimore
so you'd better get me packed.

Yes, sir.

If you're coming along you'd
better start packing yourself.

You mean, you want me to go
along with you, sir?

Well, let's put it this way.

After having been
in the service almost 25 years

I've run into something
completely new

and unheard of
in the Air Force.

I don't want to let it get away
until I find out what it is.

Yes, sir.

Something new
and unheard of, sir?

A second lieutenant with
a general for an aid.

[instrumental music]

That'll finally hit him
tonight in bed

and he'll go right
through the ceiling.

I don't care if that
is against regulations.

It's all your, Mickey.

Take good care of the place.

I won't say goodbye, Bill.

I know you'll be droppin' in on
us to keep your hand in.

Connie, you take good
care of Mickey.

I'll do my best.

And I'm not saying
goodbye, either.

You'll be coming back.

Sure, sure.

You see that Linc follows
Doc Bailey's orders.

He's not supposed to be out
of bed for another week.

What the..

- Button your coat.
- I know, I know.

It was like getting out
of Alcatraz but I made it.


...when are you gonna
learn to carry out orders?

Sorry, general, but I've never
been able to miss a parade.


[band music]

Order, hut.

There goes a lot of guy.

A lot.

As much as we'll ever see.

Well, almost.

[music continues]

[engines droning]

[music continues]