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Men with Wings

Men with Wings(1938)

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FULL SYNOPSIS

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Reporter Nicholas Ranson is jubilant when, on 17 Dec 1903, in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Orville and Wilbur Wright take their first airplane flight. Back home in Underwood, Maryland, however, his uncle Hiram F. Jenkins, owner and editor of the local newspaper, refuses to print the story. Nicholas quits and continues to work on his own airplane, with the devoted help of his little daughter Peggy. Peggy is actually the first in her family to fly when her friends, Patrick Falconer and Scott Barnes, induce her to get inside a large kite they have made, and run with it in a field until she is airborne. The kite is caught in a tree, however, and Peggy gets a black eye. Later, Nicholas dies when his experimental airplane crashes, leaving his wife and children alone. By Peggy's adulthood, planes are capable of flying at an altitude of 11,000 feet, and speeds of nearly 100 m.p.h. Peggy continues her father's obsession with flight by helping Scott and Pat to build a plane. Airplane manufacturer J. A. Nolan hires Scott to design plans and Pat to build them. The three aviation pioneers finally quit their jobs as reporters when Uncle Hiram decides to overshadow their breaking of the current speed record with news of the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. Pat becomes bored by regular work, however, and is fired for instigating a fight. He enlists in the Army Air Corps, which is fighting in France. Peggy's love for the headstrong and unreliable Pat grows, but during his absence, she relies heavily on the friendship of Scott, who is in love with her. Peggy joins the war effort and is sent to France, where she is reunited with Pat, who is a decorated hero, and by Armistice Day, they are married. Enlisted by the Army, Scott continues to build better planes, helped by mechanic Joe Gibbs and, when risking his life testing one of them, breaks his legs. Still in two casts, he leaves the hospital early and sneaks back to perform some additional test flying of the rebuilt airplane. Scott is transferred by the Army to pilot mail between New York and Washington, D.C. Pat and a pregnant Peggy return home upon the death of his father. Bored and restless, Pat moves to New York. After Peggy gives birth, Pat joins up to fight a war in Morocco with some old flying buddies, without saying goodbye to his wife, and asks Scott to take care of his family. On the day that Scott completes the first non-stop transcontinental mail flight from New York to San Francisco, an injured Pat singlehandedly wins the war in Morocco and steals the headline in Uncle Hiram's paper. Pat returns home with a lame leg and, with the help of Scott, founds Falconer Airplanes, Inc. in California. After five years, Pat again becomes restless and is determined to break a world's record by flying non-stop from New York to Paris. Although Scott adapts a new plane for him, Pat resists learning the new technology and begins the flight from California without proper knowledge of the plane's instrumentation. He misses the New York landing and, as he runs out of fuel, crashes in the ocean. Fortunately, Scott and Joe rescue Pat just before his plane sinks, and they return to the airfield as Charles Lindbergh is departing for Paris in his "Spirit of St. Louis." The Depression hits the airline manufacturing business hard, and as Pat has suddenly left for China, Peggy offers financial assistance so Scott can keep one hangar open to build a new military airplane. Soon, Uncle Hiram and his assistant, Hank, also donate their savings after having sold the newspaper. Scott finally test flies his plane against the standard Army biplanes and outflies them, clearly making every other type of military plane obsolete. In 1938, Pat dies during aerial combat on his last mission in China, and Scott brings news of his death to Peggy on the eve of the "Falconer Bomber's" fifth anniversary. Peggy stoically attends the elegant anniversary banquet, and after Scott is honored for his achievements, she eulogizes Pat.