I remember this episode very fondly, as so much seemed to get packed into its fifty minutes and there was very little drag. Almost immediately, excited drums take us into a shot of the magnificent, Concorde-esque Fireflash waiting on a runway. The episode title is instantly superimposed over it. We may remember this magnificent craft from the show’s pilot episode, ‘Trapped in the Sky’, and various characters will be making many more references over the next hour to that landmark rescue.

We’re at London airport, and the two Tower controllers are also the same as the ones from ‘Trapped…’, particularly the stiff-upper-lipped controller, Commander Norman, who is one of the show’s most consistent guest star characters. He’s watching the Fireflash through binoculars, and – as is typical just before a major disaster on Thunderbirds, marvelling at the impressiveness of the massive plane. The Fireflash (more specifically, its ID is Fireflash 3) takes off, levelling out, then pops the sounds barrier and Commander Norman calls the International Air Minister to tell him that the Fireflash 3 has left London safely. I have to wonder if he has to ring the minister every time a Fireflash launches? Maybe he just leaves messages…

Then, one second after the ‘everything’s going well’ phone call, disaster strikes. In about three seconds, the Fireflash pilots radio a frantic mayday – they’re losing height rapidly and barely have time to give their position before static swallows their call for help. The other tower controller, Burroughs, calls in the Mayday and orders the start of a search and rescue – a sign starts flashing ACTION STATIONS!

Commander Norman radios an order for all ships in the vicinity of Fireflash 3’s last-known coordinates to divert to and search that area, whilst bright yellow Air Sea Rescue jets zoom into the sky out of clearly labelled launch bays. This is called ‘Operation Sea Hawk’ and there are many shots of these jets and a hydrofoil rescue ship patrolling the Atlantic Ocean, looking desperately for the missing aircraft.

Eventually the search party call London Tower with the sad news. There’s absolutely no sign of Fireflash 3, and Commander Norman says, rather inappropriately, “It’s fantastic!” and calls an end to the hopeless operation. The planes and jets are shown heading home.

Now at London Tower, someone’s pinned a sign to a door marked ‘PRIVATE: INTERNATIONAL AIR MINISTER’. The meeting consists of four people – a bearded man at the desk, who we assume to be the Minister himself, Commander Norman and Burroughs from the tower, and a chap in a white coat who appears to be one of the Fireflash engineers (and will be later known as Patterson). The Air Minister is greatly upset by the Fireflash 3 disaster, which has cost them a plane worth “five million pounds and six hundred lives!” I feel he could have listed that in a better order. The minister gives orders for all Fireflash craft to remain grounded until yet more tests are run to find the fault, even though Patterson makes a belligerent protest that they already have tested it exhaustively. Fireflash’s fate remains undecided.

This doesn’t prevent enormous media speculation. On Tracy Island, we see a hand pluck The Philadelphia Observer from a huge pile of newspapers and magazines. The headline reads, ‘Jinxed Plane Grounded – Fireflash Accident Prone?’ This scene is especially interesting because it’s a glimpse at both the Tracy’s range of reading material (we can perhaps assume the copy of MAD Magazine belongs to Gordon and the others all steal it), as well as LIFE, New York Mercury, The Daily Telegraph and, er, The Daily Mail. Because there was no frame pause in the 1960s it seems unlikely they wanted us to spot that the dates are all from that decade!

Then the camera makes a quick pan past the Tracy brother’s (IR uniform) portraits to where John, Tin-Tin and Jeff are watching the latest news report on Fireflash. The reporter refers to ‘Trapped in the Sky’, which suggests that that episode’s events occurred earlier in the same year. The reporter reiterates that this time there were no survivors. This is creepily similar to recent real life events.

Finally getting a line while he’s on the island, John wonders if it could be sabotage again, although Tin-Tin thinks security precautions are too good for that to happen. Considering security and safety records in every episode so far, I think John’s instincts are a bit closer to the mark. Jeff is baffled why the Fireflash could suddenly disappear, and John is now wondering if it could be metal fatigue. Jeff gruffly says it “could be a hundred and one things” and that they will need to keep a close eye on the new Fireflash tests. Tin-Tin still thinks it’s a great aircraft and ensures that the jinx continues!

Jeff contacts Alan, who’s replaced John in Thunderbird Five (which is when anything important needs to be found out up there, obviously, otherwise it would give John more than three lines per episode). Jeff tells Alan to closely monitor all Fireflash test transmissions, and Alan points out that the crew of Fireflash 3 called in the wrong position right before they vanished! OK, Alan, two questions…1) When did you realise this exactly? and 2) Didn’t you think it was worth perhaps mentioning it to the search-and-rescuers? Or even the air minister? Jeff totally ignores this fact, too, so perhaps it’s his fault! Jeff then rings down to Scott, Virgil and Gordon, who are spending some quality time together in the billiard room. Maybe the pool was being cleaned. He orders them to stand by while the Fireflash tests are going on, although he doesn’t specify if this means they should, like, stop playing, or anything.

Back in London, Fireflash is in the test bay and Patterson tells Commander Norman that they’ve eliminated metal fatigue as a possibility (sorry, John) and are awaiting results from radiation tests. These are also revealed as the good kind of negative. In Patterson’s words, Fireflash is “totally OK,” so now they will have to try something else. At London airport there’s another meeting with another big sign outside, ‘BRIEFING IN PROGRESS KEEP OUT’!

Commander Norman speaks to two pilots, one blond (apparently named Bob), the other darker and sporting an impressive, WWI-style moustache. It looks like they’re going to recreate the flight and see if they can spot the trouble, and sure enough, after a few ground tests, the Fireflash is flying once more.

Alan listens in as they pass the sound barrier, and then grows very concerned when this crew also read out the wrong position! The Fireflash is fifty miles from the last crash area and then they switch to the Auto Flight Plan. Then one of the pilots says, “So far so good”. Of course, that’s when the Elevator Power Unit conks out, swiftly followed by the radio. In London Tower they can hear the pilots shouting there’s something wrong with their ‘gyros’, then they give the wrong position again. Commander Norman despairs as he picks up on a pattern of disaster.

As the Fireflash’s ill-fated crew prepare to ditch in the ocean, a parachute mysteriously launches from underneath. The two pilots are too busy freaking out to notice. Their controls aren’t responding, and they’re about to crash!

Alan calls Tracy Island. He’s picked up this second Fireflash’s mayday, which was too weak for London to hear. Again, I have to wonder where they were while the other plane with six hundred people on it was coming down! Jeff calls the shooting range, where Scott congratulates Gordon on a few direct hits (and they have a really well-stocked gun rack!) Jeff tells them to be on their way.

The Fireflash hits the water. There’s exciting, urgent music as the Fireflash begins to sink, and the pilots find the emergency airlock has jammed! The mysterious parachutist lands safely while the great aircraft’s weight inevitably pulls it underwater begins to sink, with the pilots still trapped inside! Then a strange craft arrives to pick up the parachutist. So John was right, there’s something truly eeeevil going on here!

In the Tracy lounge, Jeff instructs Scott to scan the area from the coast nearest the crash site, and sends Virgil with TB4 and Gordon. They’re in such a hurry there’s no time for extended launch sequences, it’s simply 1-2-3 blast off!

After all the crashing and blasting off, we’re shown a tranquil rural scene – and then Thunderbird One rockets in overhead. A farmer is hefting hay with a pitchfork when Thunderbird One lands noisily, spouting fire and smoke. The man is gobsmacked, revealing his Irish roots with a “Saints preserve us!” exclamation. He’s also one of the Anderson’s non-threatening stereotypes, as he has a rosy red nose. A very serious-faced Scott asks for help with his equipment (no, it never stops being funny) over the loudhailer in TB1. He wants to set up Mobile Control in the barn, and the farmer says of course he can, but the cows are in there! A now-grinning Scott replies cheerfully, “Well they’ll just have to move over!” Yes, this is why I hold this episode in particular affection.

Thunderbird Two is still on her way, and Brains wants London to send a ‘radio photograph’ of Fireflash’s electronics over to him. This either shows how highly esteemed and well-trusted IR have become (which is picked up on in a much later episode), or Fireflash’s staff really don’t have any idea what ‘Top Secret’ actually means…

Back in Ireland, Scott makes friends with ‘Kathy’, the farmer’s noisy cow whose barn he’s commandeered. Mobile Control is set up to scan the area for Fireflash, using a nifty yellow piece of equipment that erects itself in the yard. Scott seems to keep one eye on the cow, with a bit of a ‘how do I get myself into these situations?’ expression thrown in!

In Thunderbird Two’s cockpit, Brains is poring over Fireflash plans with some help from Gordon. Brains repeatedly explains, “I got it!” and then “Er, no…I, I haven’t…” which is very clearly irritating Virgil – there’s something about the sidelong stare he keeps giving Brains which always gave me that impression.

Back in the barn, Scott’s sounding frustrated. Apparently there’s “not a thing floating in the whole area!” So where is the other Fireflash?

Brains suddenly exclaims, “I got it!” for what’s thankfully the last time. Unfortunately, the following discussion they have about the fate of the crew blatantly emphasises the similarity between Brains’ voice and Gordon’s. They really needed to hire one more person for poor Gordo! Anyway, Brains figures that the skill of the crew could mean that Fireflash has landed safely but then sunk underwater, and the crew may also be unable to get out!

This is exactly what has happened. The two pilots are despairing that they can’t be heard, “even with the new thorium beam transmitter”. Typical. They’re now convinced that they’ve “had it.”

Just then Thunderbird Two zooms overhead. Scott updates them on the lack of luck with the scan, and Virgil replies to Scott’s clipped sentence with one of his own. “We think crew may be trapped in aircraft on sea bed.” He’s either being even more precise than usual, or taking the piss slightly. Hard to tell. So, Virgil drops off Gordon in Pod 4, and Thunderbird Four launches!

Scott provides Gordon with a course to follow, considering where Fireflash is supposed to be. Thunderbird Four’s descent gives me Stingray flashbacks, especially with the watery music accompanying it! Scott instructs Gordon to begin the search once he reaches the area, which is a cue for some ominous, almost (IR’s evil nemesis) The Hood style music, too. The Fireflash crew spot him and frantically turn all their lights on and off to get his attention. Gordon catches a glimpse and steers towards it, although Fireflash’s lights promptly fuse. It’s OK, though. Gordon has seen the Fireflash, but can’t spot any signs of life.

Virgil urgently asks Brains if he thinks the crew are still alive, but Brains fobs him off, telling Gordon he will need to cut off the Fireflash’s engines. Then the plane will (probably) float and they’ll be able to rescue the crew. Virgil adds darkly, “If they’re still alive.” Yikes. Gordon ‘parks’ Thunderbird Four on a rock and swims out to take a look.

The crew are losing hope again until one of them spots Gordon swimming towards them. Gordon is relieved to see them, too, and reports that he will send them a message on a nifty gadget called the ‘Light Type’. It’s basically a waterproof netbook. Gordon uses it to explain Brains’ plan to the crew, then swims back to Thunderbird Four and puts on a snazzy pair of green goggles.

He’s going to need them. Thunderbird Four’s ‘nose’ contains a handy cutting torch that Gordon gets to work with. It doesn’t take long before one engine comes off – and you can clearly see the ‘pre-break’ lines on the model, but that’s just nit-picking. The crew wait and the tension mounts as they’re clearly running out of air and the cockpit temperature is climbing fast! The second engine finally breaks away too, and Gordon steers Thunderbird Four away, putting it back down to wait.

Hopeful, lighter and bubblier music plays as Fireflash finally lifts up and up, surfacing at last! Thunderbird Two flies directly above and TB4 emerges alongside! Then the heavily-moustached Fireflash pilot smells burning and there’s a crackle of very unhappy electrical wires. Smoke starts to billow from the control panel!

Gordon appears in the cockpit window and starts cutting a gap in the glass. A close up reveals that he can see the flames, too. The pilots realise they can’t even use the extinguisher as air is so short! The fire starts in earnest.

Thunderbird Two begins to drop the ‘Rescue Capsule’ from her nose cone. By now, Gordon has carved a wobbly escape hole for them to get out through. He bashes the glass out and shouts for the pilots to climb aboard the Rescue Capsule as soon as it arrive, then he dives back into the sea and Thunderbird Four.

There’s a long view of TB2 coming in with the capsule, then suddenly it’s outside the cockpit and the two men leap into it! Virgil’s voice tells them to “sing out” when they’re secure, and he tells them to hold tight while TB2 winches them up. Virgil lets everyone know that he’s getting out of there as soon as they’re safe, as the Fireflash seems ready to go up at any second! TB2 pulls away and Thunderbird Four JUST gets clear as the second ill-fated Fireflash explodes over and over again, sinking for good this time.

Back in the Tracy lounge the reporter on the TV sings IR’s praises and informs viewers that one of International Rescue’s “egg-heads” has sent London an analysis about why Fireflash 3 may have crashed. Jeff, Brains, John, Virgil and Gordon are all watching, Virgil sporting a particularly flamboyant cravat! Jeff adds his thanks to them all for a job well done, but realises that Scott isn’t there (how long have they all been there?!). Virgil says that Scott’s take-off from England (surely he meant Ireland?) was delayed for “some reason”. On this cue, Scott appears around the rotating wall, carrying a laden basket of dairy products. He tells them he “had to milk the cows before I took off!” There’s always a lot of untold stories in the really good Thunderbirds episodes, and this random scene is one more reason why I love this one in particular!

As the Tracys debrief, there’s a top level Fireflash meeting going on where they argue passionately over Brains’ findings. EPU (Elevator Power Unit) failure seems unlikely to most of them, and they have no idea how it’s happening. The Air Minister tells them that they will pursue all three theories suggested because “I can’t see what else we can do.”

Jeff echoes this. He is also holding a meeting in the Tracy Lounge. Scott, Virgil, Tin-Tin and Brains are all there, and there’s concern that the cause of the disaster can only be examined whilst Fireflash is airborne. Virgil wishes that the company would let them have a try at flying Fireflash, with Thunderbird Two as backup “if need be.” Scott instantly agrees, looking extra-serious as he says, “How about that, Father?”

Jeff is also a fan of the idea and immediately puts together a letter to London Field, saying it’s time for IR to act! Yay! Prevention better than cure! Something logical is happening!

Mini-march music introduces London Tower, who have just received Jeff’s letter. Commander Norman agrees that IR probably has “the best pilots in the business” but wants Captain Hanson to join the IR man (Scott, of course) in the cockpit for the test. This is mainly because IR saved Hanson’s life back in ‘Trapped in the Sky!’ Apparently remembering Scott’s stringent security demands from that episode, Norman also orders top secret conditions for the airport, a 100 mile no-fly zone around this area, and 600 yards clearance for all the Thunderbird craft. Out of ALL the episodes in the series, this really is the best one for consistent continuity.

Norman’s assistant, Burroughs, is curious where the letter was posted, hoping it will give them a steer to IR’s base. Fortunately, IR aren’t morons and Norman wryly shows him it was posted at London Airport! Anyway, it’s clear that IR are a shoo-in for this latest test.

Alan calls Jeff from Thunderbird Five to tell him that preparations for Thunderbird Two’s arrival at London are well underway. Alan wonders what form the rescue will take, and Jeff says that Virgil is loaded with POD 4, diving escape bells and the laser beam cutter. Phew, these boys are prepared! Jeff wants Alan to stay in close touch with London control tower in case they want any help with procedure.

Thunderbird Two crosses the British coast with Scott, Virgil and Gordon aboard and the latest Fireflash lines up on the runway in preparation. Stately music plays and apparently Captain Hanson is controlling the plane.

International Rescue are now six minutes away and the alert goes out to seal the airport. The airport police drive out, presumably to take charge, while tunnels last seen feeding the Thompson Tower (in ‘City of Fire’) are barricaded and shut down. The security arrangements are in full effect.

With three minutes to go, Burroughs is concerned that IR will be late. Commander Norman has more faith, which is rewarded when Scott’s voice bursts over the airwaves. He’s answered by a chap using Scott’s poshest British voice! Scott requests permission to land. As if for old time’s sake, Commander Norman asks if they require a runway. In a nice nod to ‘Trapped in the Sky’, Scott answers the same way, “No, London, will not require runway.” Heh.

The airport is thoroughly sealed (and it must be, because not even the Hood has appeared so far!) As they reach London, Scott sounds a little tense, breathless with his clipped voice stringing out words, “Thank-yooou, London, Okaaay, Virgil…” and Virgil calmly tells him that they’re losing height now, landing at London bang-on midday. Burroughs is hugely impressed by their perfect timing.

Alan tells Jeff they’ve arrived. Jeff says he’s to maintain constant contact between Fireflash, Thunderbird Two and Thunderbird Five. He emphasises, “Nothing’s got to go wrong this time. NOTHING.” After all, Scott’s life is at stake (not to mention IR’s flawless reputation)!

Scott has joined Captain Hanson in Fireflash, and checks in with Virgil on their frequency. Gordon is sat behind Virgil in TB2, wearing a flight suit instead of his uniform. Virgil can hear Scott “Strength 5” (love that jargon), and so can Alan. Alan wishes them luck and tells London that IR is ready.

Just before they leave, Scott thanks Hanson for helping them to test Fireflash this way, and Hanson just says that he’s grateful to Scott for saving his life, back in ‘Trapped’. Then the operation begins, Virg says “So long” to Scott, and Scott and Hanson calmly fly the gigantic aircraft into the sky.

Scott notes they’ve passed the sound barrier. Alan reports to Jeff that Virgil’s catching up and things are okay. However, when Alan asks Scott for a position check a moment later, it’s soon obvious they have a problem. The locator reading is twenty miles out! Scott sounds worried but thoughtful when he says, “Yeah, those controls are sure way off beam…” Hanson passes this worrying news to London Tower.

Scott looks even more serious as Hanson reports that the EPU has failed, just as the radio goes dead and Fireflash’s nose starts pointing at the ocean! Scott and Hanson appear to have lost contact but naturally Scott has a backup plan. He can still get through to Alan on IR’s own radio. Communication is now more convoluted and “desperate”, as Virgil puts it, but didn’t I say earlier that they were prepared?

Scott then drops the rest of the bad news. Fireflash is taking a colossal crash dive into the Atlantic Ocean, as they can’t get the nose up! He’s still cool, and refuses to bail out as it will put them back where they started. Fortunately, he and the others “cooked up” a scheme for this on their way over. It appears to involve Gordon. Hanson tells them they have fifteen minutes in which to pull it off. Well, the guys like a challenge!

Gordon heads into the back of Thunderbird Two with a “Be seeing you…I hope” to Virgil. Virgil lines up Thunderbird Two with Fireflash’s wing while Gordon gets into a hatch that opens up in TB2’s roof. Virgil tells Scott to hold Fireflash steady, and they hope for not too much turbulence. When Scott and Gordon are ready, TB2 pulls closer and looks incredibly small underneath Fireflash’s length. Gordon tells Scott to open the hatch into Fireflash. He looks up to fire a wire into it, and sees a person pull away from the edge from INSIDE. Gordon isn’t certain what he saw and mutters about it, just replying that he’s “seeing things” to Virgil’s query. This doesn’t alarm Virg at all and he tells Gordon to stand by!

Gordon shoots the cable into the hatch and it takes him up into Fireflash. He’s safely in! Scott guides him to the problem area, warning that their height is just 40,000 feet and there’s only four minutes before they hit the water! Again, what have they been doing for the past eleven? Gordon has at least managed to get safely inside Fireflash and I can’t help thinking this technique would have been perfect for removing the Hood’s bomb in ‘Trapped’.

Now there’s only three minutes left, but Gordon soon finds proof of foul play. Someone has cut the wires in the all-important Elevator Power Unit! Clearly that bit of Fireflash blew up in the last one they rescued. Then there’s a loud bang, a gunshot! Scott clips, “What the blazes was that?!”

It’s our saboteur, the same man who escaped in the parachute just before crashes one and two. He killed over six hundred people so there’s no sympathy for him at all! He yells for Gordon to come on out, but Gordon warns him that there are delicate instruments in here they really don’t want to damage. Mr Saboteur doesn’t care as the plane is doomed to crash and disappear, “just like all the others.”

There’s just one-and-a-half minutes left. An angry and anxious Scott demands to know what the heck is going on in that wing. The answer is – a shootout! Gordon almost subdues the guy but the baddie makes a break for it. Although Gordon warns him his ’chute won’t open in time, the man jumps, only for Gordon to shoot him anyway. Presumably just in case it did open?

Scott’s having kittens in the cockpit until Gordon finally speaks to him, saying they had an “uninvited guest lousing up the works”. Gordon sounds high on adrenaline at this point, and Scott suddenly speaks very quietly and calmly, letting the aquanaut know that there’s just thirty seconds before Fireflash hits the water, and it’s too late for Gordon (or them, I think) to bail out. Can Gordon fix it?

Gordon says there’s no time to remake the join (I think he means with a soldering iron)! Fireflash is skimming low towards the water’s surface, the engines make that whining crashing noise, and it all looks hopeless!

In what must be a last ditch attempt, Gordon grabs the EPU’s wires and shoves the exposed ends together. At the VERY LAST MINUTE Fireflash’s trajectory curves upwards! They’re saved! Gordon’s blinking at the sparks his efforts cause, (bet he has little flashy lights in his vision for WEEKS) but it seems to be working!

Later, on Tracy Island, a news reporter, who ALREADY looks like Virgil’s less-chiselled twin, speaks in Virgil’s voice whilst a frankly CONFUSED looking Virgil watches! John’s sat beside Virg on the sofa, and they’re all listening to a report on the Fireflash. There’s excellent news. The London to San Francisco route will soon be back to normal and police authorities in London have completed investigations into the sabotage. It turns out that, thanks for IR, they have uncovered the involvement of the notorious ‘Benton Aircraft Espionage’! The way that name gets thrown in, you’d think they found them in the Yellow Pages. The reporter is just warming up when the screen they’re all watching goes dark!

Jeff scans the room for an explanation (anyone sit on the remote?) and a pissed-off Scott (possibly the most pissed-off he ever looks in the show’s whole run) says, “Ah, for Pete’s sake…”

Grandma Tracy hurries in, apologising that as she and Tin-Tin were putting the apple pies (what else!) in the oven the “darn fuse blew”. I can’t help hoping that the aircon and launch sequences aren’t on the same circuit. Particularly in Virgil’s case!

This is a cue for some prime brother-on-brother teasing. Virgil snarks, “Oh, I’m sure GORDON will soon fix that…” and Scott adds smugly, “Yeah, you remember what you said after the Fireflash episode, Gordon…” Gordon rolls his eyes. “Just like fixing a fuse, you said.” Wow, they’re merciless! I’m guessing Gordon crowed a bit too loudly about being the hero on this one! Our favourite aquanaut takes it in his stride, gamely saying, “Here I go again!” Then we all wince at the forced family laughter that closes what is, all the way through, a truly great episode.

This is one of the strongest episodes, where the show was hitting its stride and really growing into its hour-long (including adverts) format. There’s humour, great levels of action and well-drawn characters, and also a great amount of series continuity, something that never quite gelled in other episodes. Best of all, International Rescue prove yet again that they will willingly put themselves in harm’s way if it means preventing another potential disaster (and this prevention factor will recur in the likes of ‘Danger at Ocean Deep’). Scott co-piloting Fireflash was a wonderful image and I feel that it brings IR’s involvement with that ill-starred aeroplane full circle. In Tin-Tin’s words, the Fireflash still is a great aircraft, and this episode comes just as highly recommended!


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As I am writing this, the headlines are full of accounts of the ditching of a commercial aircraft in the Hudson River in New York. That incident ended remarkably well, thanks to the quick thinking of a seasoned, former U.S. Air Force, captain.  I mention it because following this real life episode drives home how dangerous just such a water landing can be. Thank goodness, here in the land of Supermarionation, we have Scott Tracy in the right seat, accompanied by Captain “Crash” Hanson of Trapped in the Sky infamy. The poor guy earned this title through no fault of his own, but it accurately describes the way most of his flights nearly end. Well this time, he’s got International Rescue riding shotgun.

Watching this episode again has been fun, as I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed it. There’s something for everyone from plane crashes to explosions, sabotage and much drama, to that above mentioned pilot of TB1...milking a cow? What other series could possibly combine all these elements into a sixty minute format and make it all both believable and exciting? Such was the magic of this show.

We are spared the initial carnage of 600 people dying in a water crash aboard the Fireflash.  But, that great loss it seems was not entirely in vain. We are left with a clue. The aircraft relayed an incorrect position on the radar just before going down. A subsequent test of the plane with just flight crew aboard confirms this as they experience the same fault. Happily, they are rescued by our boys in blue. If you are a Gordon fan, this is YOUR episode for sure. I was not at all distracted by the rumoured changing of the parts in his coif either, because I was too engrossed in the action taking place. Gordon’s solutions as to how one raises such an aircraft from the bottom of the sea and gets two men out of a burning cockpit were all quite plausible. With Virgil’s help, this incident ends with only the loss of equipment. Again we are left with the same clue of a misread position on the radar.

Well, they say the third time is the charm and now, after London Airport receives a call from Jeff Tracy, we have both IR’s and Air Terranean’s best pilots at the helm. They start out with a normal take-off and Virgil following closely in TB2. Things soon take a turn for the worse as Alan tries to get a fix on their position from TB5 and they realize that they are experiencing the same error in their navigation console as the previous two flights. Predictably, as with the other two aircraft, they also lose elevator control and the plane begins a steep and accelerated decent from an altitude of 150,000 feet. The one difference is that communications failure, which also usually followed, was not an issue due to Scott having TB5 at his disposal. Within fifteen minutes, the third Fireflash aircraft will ditch in the ocean. How will they get out of this one? Will it be Virgil who saves the day? Or possibly John? Ah, but which brother is actually the back-up pilot for TB2 and should be more familiar with all her systems? Well, if you haven’t guessed a certain red-haired Tracy, you are incorrect. Thanks for playing; your lovely parting gift will be waiting for you at the exit door. Gordon fans rejoice! He’s not just good in the water ;-).

Cut to the top hatch of TB2. With the help of some pretty impressive flying by Virgil to keep his big green ‘Bird steady under the massive jet, Gordon is winched up into the underbelly of the Fireflash. There, he discovers a saboteur and a brief gunfight ensues. I personally am never clear on whether the henchman falls to his death out of the hatch or if Gordon shoots him. I can’t imagine that shooting him would fit in with IR’s policies, though. In any case, after being rid of that interference, the fourth Tracy brother is now also in mortal peril, as the great plane will crash in seconds. He notices, just in the nick of time, the reason for the mechanical issues and holds a cut cable, apparently the elevator control, together with his bare hands. Though in real life, this would have caused severe burns, Gordon weathers it well and enables Scott and Captain Hansen to climb to a safe altitude and bring Fireflash back to the airport.

All is well and the problem having been rectified, we move back to tranquil Tracy Island, where all the family except for Alan, doing his stint in TB5 this month, are assembled. Grandma comes out of the kitchen and proclaims that she and Tin Tin put apple pies in the oven and it blew a fuse. Scott turns to Gordon and reminds him of a comment he made after the Fireflash incident. He said it was “just like fixing a fuse.” So, off Gordon goes amid the laughter of the entire group, and recreates the scene. Only this time, in the kitchen. Although I think it highly unlikely that Brains would have left ANYTHING running on old fashioned fuses, it makes for a fun ending to a great story. If you haven’t seen it in a while, put some popcorn in the microwave and pop in the DVD. You could do a lot worse.

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