powered by AFI
Jimmie Fletcher, Bushy Thomas, Saginaw Jake and Cowboy are young drifters who scorn those who join the military to serve their country. When a disagreement between Bushy and Jimmie results in a fistfight, Bushy pushes Jimmie over a cliff. The fight is witnessed by young Freddie Hewlett, who is riding his horse along the trail. Racing to the rescue, Freddie pulls Jimmie, who is clinging to the face of the cliff, to safety. Freddie, an Englishman, tells the group that he came to the United States to live on his uncle's ranch after his home in England was destroyed in a bombing raid. Later, when Bushy suggests stealing Freddie's horse and saddle, Jimmie protests, and the two boys begin to fight again. Their dispute is interrupted when a plane flies overhead, and Freddie, who has been traumatized by planes ever since they destroyed his home, dives under a rock. Feeling sorry for Freddie, the gang allows him to ride away on his horse. Soon after, state troopers ride into the area and arrest the gang for trespassing. Jimmie escapes, however, and walks to the ranch owned by Freddie's uncle, Jeffrey Ferguson. There, Jimmie is welcomed by Freddie, who tells his uncle about Jimmie defending him against the other boys. When the state troopers notify Mr. Ferguson about the escaped trespasser, Jimmie admits that he ran away from a reform school. Although Jimmie professes that the "world owes him a living," his interest in mechanical engines and aircraft convinces Mr. Ferguson that the boy can be rehabilitated. Mr. Ferguson suggests that Jimmie attend military school with Freddie, but Jimmie refuses until he notices the state troopers searching for him outside the house and decides that military school is preferable to jail. Mr. Ferguson drives the two boys to the academy where they are assigned to be roommates. Jimmie bristles at the discipline imposed upon him there, and when several cadets play a cruel joke while hazing him, he reports them to the head of the school, Major Carter. To punish Jimmie, the cadets refuse to speak to him and exclude him from the party for new cadets. At the party, Freddie defends his friend but is told that if he continues to speak to Jimmie, he, too, will be ostracized. Angry, Freddie returns to his room and upon discovering that Jimmie has run away, goes to search for him. The major sees Freddie wandering off limits and orders him to report to his office in the morning to be disciplined. Jimmie witnesses his friend's reprimand and decides to return to the academy. The next day, the major orders Freddie to forfeit his privileges, and when the other cadets refuse to allow him to join the polo team, Jimmie believes that Freddie is being persecuted for befriending him. Jimmie's attitude toward the academy changes, however, when a notice is posted that Jeffrey has endowed a course in aviation mechanics at Jimmie's suggestion. Excited, Jimmie tells Major Carter that he wants to restore an old plane so that he can fly it and cure Freddie's phobia. In response, the major warns Jimmie that he must improve his grades in order to be admitted to the class. That night, Jimmie sneaks into the classroom and steals the questions for an upcoming English exam. Freddie, who is on guard duty, sees him and is honor bound to report his friend. Although Freddie defends Jimmie's actions, the major orders the boy court-martialed. Disillusioned and angry, Jimmie runs away and in the woods meets Saginaw Jake, who tells him that Bushy has broken out of jail and is hiding in a nearby cabin. Jimmie proceeds to the hideout, where he finds Bushy, Cowboy and a man named Horner. After Bushy learns that Jimmie has restored a plane at the school, he offers him money to fly them to safety. Jimmie, however, finds out that Bushy killed a guard during his escape and recognizes Horner as a German spy, and refuses to help them. Horner then pulls a gun and demands that Jimmie take them to the plane. Freddie is guarding the aircraft, and when Horner attacks him, Jimmie rushes to his friend's defense. As they struggle on the ground, a group of cadets on patrol rides by and comes to the rescue. For capturing the German spy, Freddie wins a commendation and Jimmie is reinstated into the academy and takes to the air for his first flying lesson. When Jimmie "dive bombs" his friend, Freddie stands his ground, thus overcoming his fears.