The Flight of the Phoenix
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First edition cover
|Published||1964 by Harper & Row|
|Media type||Print (Hardback)|
The Flight of the Phoenix is a 1964 novel by Elleston Trevor. The plot involves the crash of a transport aircraft in the middle of a desert and the survivors' desperate attempt to save themselves. The book was the basis for the 1965 film The Flight of the Phoenix starring James Stewart and the 2004 remake entitled Flight of the Phoenix. The Flight of the Phoenix came at the midpoint of Trevor's career and led to a bidding war over its film rights.
Pilot Frank Towns and navigator Lew Moran are ferrying a mixed bag of passengers out of the Jebel oil town in the Libyan desert, among them oil workers, a couple of British soldiers, and a German who was visiting his brother. An unexpected sandstorm forces the aircraft down, damaging it, killing two of the men, and severely injuring the German. In the book, the action takes place in the Libyan part of the Sahara.
The survivors wait for rescue but begin to worry, as the storm has blown them far off course, away from where searchers would look for them. After several days, Captain Harris marches toward a distant oasis together with another passenger. His aide, Sergeant Watson feigns a sprained ankle and does not join Harris. A third man follows after them. Days later, Harris barely manages to return to the crash site. The others are lost.
As the water begins to run out, Stringer, a precise, arrogant English aeronautical engineer, proposes a radical solution. He claims they can rebuild a new aircraft from the wreckage of the old twin-boom aircraft, using the undamaged boom and adding skids to take off. They set to work.
At one point, they spot a party of nomadic tribesmen. Captain Harris decides to ask them for help, but Sergeant Watson refuses to accompany him. Instead another survivor, a Texan named Loomis, goes with him. The next day, Towns finds their looted bodies, throats cut, and the nomads gone.
Later, Towns finds out that Stringer's job is designing model aircraft, not real, full-scale ones. Afraid of the effect on morale, he and Moran keep their discovery secret, though they now believe Stringer's plan is doomed. However, they turn out to be wrong. The aircraft is reborn, like the mythical Phoenix. It flies the passengers, strapped to the outside of the fuselage, to an oasis and civilization.
The book was the basis of a 1965 film starring James Stewart, Richard Attenborough, and Hardy Krüger. The 2004 remake featuring Dennis Quaid was also based on the novel, although it was re-located to the Gobi Desert in Asia.
- Liukkonen, Petri. "Elleston Trevor". Books and Writers (kirjasto.sci.fi). Finland: Kuusankoski Public Library. Archived from the original on 26 September 2008.
- "Flight of the Phoenix by Elleston Trevor (Mass Market Paperback - Reissue) Book review." barnesandnoble.com. Retrieved: May 29, 2009.