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In the early 1920s, brothers Colin, Roland, Tad and Keith McDonald have been performing as a stunt flying team with a carnival, when Colin convinces his brothers to sign up with Mr. Gafferty of Mercury Airlines in Newark, New Jersey, who has been contracted by the government to carry the mail by air. All the brothers are given physical examinations, and Colin falls in love with the attending nurse, Lucille Stewart. After knowing her for only eight hours, Colin proposes marriage, and Lucille accepts with encouragement from the local pastor. Porkie, the McDonalds' friend and fellow aviator, graciously finances the wedding, and shortly afterward, the mail pilots start work along the East Coast. When Lucille expresses frustration because Colin and his brothers are preoccupied with flying, Colin promises that they will soon have their own home. Just before his twenty-first birthday, Keith becomes the first victim of their dangerous occupation, crashing his plane into a water tank during a thick fog. Roland feels responsible for Keith's death, as he taught him how to fly, and he quits to work as a car salesman. Porkie is then fired after performing a dangerous stunt over a passenger train, and he joins Roland in car sales. Tad, who has fallen in love with Lucille despite his best efforts not to, crashes his plane during a violent storm. Tad survives, but can no longer fly. Lucille and Colin's marriage is tested when Colin's old girl friend Poppy asks to see him, but Colin remains true to Lucille, and they soon celebrate the birth of their son. Although Colin promises to quit flying once he is a father, he is induced to stay with Gafferty when he offers him a raise, and because he believes that flying is safer as the pilots can now communicate by radio. Colin loses his life during his first flight with a passenger, however, when his wings ice over and he crash lands. That night, Gafferty and Tad arrive at Lucille's housewarming party with the sad news. Lucille and Colin's son is later baptized as Colin.