|Directed by||John Guillermin|
|Produced by||Walter Seltzer|
|Written by||Stanley R. Greenberg|
by David Harper
|Music by||Perry Botkin, Jr.|
|Cinematography||Harry Stradling, Jr.|
|Edited by||Robert Swink|
|Running time||101 minutes|
During a routine flight to Minneapolis, a passenger (Susan Dey) aboard Global Airways Flight 502, a Boeing 707, discovers a bomb threat written on the mirror of one of the first-class bathrooms. A second threat is soon found left in a galley. Captain Henry O'Hara (Charlton Heston) takes the cryptic threats seriously and follows the instructions—"Bomb on plane divert to Anchorage Alaska. No Joke, No Tricks. Death."—by changing course for Alaska. To avoid an explosive decompression if a bomb goes off, he flies at lower altitude, increasing fuel consumption.
The weather at Anchorage is so poor that an Air Force ground-controlled approach specialist (Claude Akins) is called in. His radar shows a small plane with radio failure that is approaching the same runway, but Flight 502 has too little fuel to go around. O'Hara sees the other plane at the last moment and manages to avoid a collision and land safely.
On the ground, O'Hara learns that the hijacker is one of his passengers—Sgt. Jerome K. Weber (James Brolin), a Vietnam veteran driven insane by war trauma, and whether he has a bomb or not, he is certainly armed with guns and grenades. After a majority of economy-class passengers successfully escape via an emergency slide, the remaining passengers and the three economy-class stewardesses are allowed to leave. Weber keeps as hostages the remaining crew, including a stewardess (Yvette Mimieux) with whom O'Hara had been in a relationship, and all of the first-class passengers, including a U.S. Senator (Walter Pidgeon) and a woman (Mariette Hartley) who has gone into labor due to the crisis. A federal agent tries to slip on board but is caught by Weber and becomes another hostage. Weber then demands to be flown to Moscow, where he intends to defect to the Soviet Union.
Although the Soviets deny clearance into their airspace, Weber insists on being flown straight ahead to Moscow, threatening death if the pilots do not comply. Soviet fighters intercept the plane, but are eventually convinced that it is civilian once O'Hara lowers the landing gear and flaps to a full landing configuration. The Soviets then allow the hijacked plane to land at Moscow, but order it to stop short of the terminal.
There, all passengers and the remaining crew are finally released, leaving only O'Hara and Weber on the plane. Weber, who had nursed dreams of becoming a hero to the Soviets, is jubilant to have to seemingly achieved his dream, and reveals that there was no bomb. But then he realizes that the Soviet forces surrounding the plane are preparing to attack him, not welcome him. O'Hara now tries to kick him out of his 707, but Weber shoots him. Both men stagger down the airstairs, and finally Weber is shot and killed by Soviet forces. O'Hara survives, just wounded in his shoulder, and he is looking up into the sky, with a great smile of relief, when he sees a plane that has just taken off.
- Charlton Heston as Capt. Henry O'Hara
- Yvette Mimieux as Angela Thatcher
- James Brolin as Jerome Weber
- Walter Pidgeon as Sen. Lindner
- Mariette Hartley as Harriet Stevens
- Rosey Grier as Gary Brown
- Jeanne Crain as Clara Shaw
- Susan Dey as Elly Brewster
- Leslie Uggams as Lovejoy Wells
- Claude Akins as Sgt. Ben Puzo
- Working titles for the film were Hijacked and Airborne.
- A World Airways Boeing 707 (N374WA) played the part of the "Global Airways" airliner. Oakland International Airport was used for the airport scenes.
- North American F-100 Super Sabres were repainted as the Soviet interceptors.
- Some of the Soviet soldiers at the "Moscow" airport are carrying American M16 rifles.
- This was the last of actress Jeanne Crain's 64 films.
- Claude Akins never appears with any of the principal cast.
- This was the film debut for several actors and actresses. Susan Dey who was known for her work in The Partridge Family television series (later L.A. Law), along with Roosevelt "Rosey" Grier, a former NFL defensive tackle.
Vincent Canby of the New York Times was generally positive: "...a basically standard melodramatic movie situation can be made diverting and occasionally gripping. Aerial hijacking is a shocking fact of life these days and Skyjacked, a straightforward, simple thriller, which, if memory serves, is the first in this genre, treats it without glamour and as the madness it is. ... John Guillermin, the director, handles an essentially familiar plot with speed and efficiency."
- Fryer to Produce 'Mame' Murphy, Mary. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 25 Dec 1971: c10.
- Vincent Canby, "Skyjacked" May 25, 1972 http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9507E6DF1F3EE63BBC4D51DFB3668389669EDE