SST Death Flight (1977)

David Lowell Rich directed Eye of the Cat and Satan’s School for Girls before this made-for-TV movie, which originally aired February 25, 1977 on ABC. He also directed The Horror at 37,000 Feet, which probably is why he was selected to make the final movie in the Airport series, the absolutely insane The Concorde … Airport ’79.

There’s also a European version of this called Death Flight that has nudity in it, if you want some more death in the sky with breasts action. You’ll get that but no realism, as the plane model used for the film is actually American SST as the first of its kind. The aviation sequences utilized a Concorde with Boeing 747 turbofan engines attached in some scenes and a Lockheed L-2000 in others. Neither of these planes ever flew at these speeds.

On the maiden flight of Maiden 1, Captain Jim Walsh (Robert Reed, The Brady Bunch), Flight Engineer Roy Nakamura (Robert Ito, Quincy M.D.), stewardess Mae (Tina Louise, Gilligan’s Island) and steward David (Billy Crystal, City Slickers) are preparing for the first supersonic flight from New York City to Paris. Joining them are plenty of guest stars, like the designer of the ship (Burgess Meredith, Rocky), the head of PR (Bert Convy!) and the supermodel who he’s sleeping with (Misty Rowe, Hee-HawMeatballs Part 2) and a former pilot (Doug McClure, Firebird 2015 A.D.).

There are so many people in this and you know that I love movies like that. Peter Graves, John de Lancie (the Q!), Season Hubley (Hardcore, Escape from New York), Susan Strasberg, Regis Philbin, George Maharis, Martin Milner, Brock Peters …1977 was such a great time for TV movies like this.

There’s also a virus unleashed on the plane beyond all the mechanical failures that you’d expect. Man, disaster films — on a budget! — are where it’s at.

Somehow, despite both being on Route 66, Milner and Maharis don’t appear in a single scene together.

This was one of the first movies that Mystery Science Theater 3000 riffed back when they were KTMA. Here it is on YouTube so you can watch the unadulterated movie all on its own:

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