In common with all the films from the Police Squad stable, Airplane! is complete nonsense from start to finish. But I defy you not to laugh. Just sit back and let yourself go.
The story centres on traumatised ex-fighter pilot Ted Striker (Robert Hays) and his fear of flying. As part of his therapy / in order to regain the love of his life* he buys a ticket on a flight from LA to Chicago. However, this is not some random plane journey. Elaine (Julie Hagerty) is a stewardess and will be working on the flight. The path of true love never did run smooth though, and she rebuffs his attempts at reconcilliation.
After dinner, many of the passengers become ill. Dr. Rumack (Leslie Nielsen) is quick to conclude that one of the meal options must have given them food poisoning. Then the stewards discover that the flying crew, including Captain Oveur (Peter Graves) and Roger Murdock (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), also had the offending menu item. Consequently, there is no one on board to fly the plane.
Elaine is instructed by the Chicago control tower supervisor Steve McCroskey (Lloyd Bridges) to activate the plane’s autopilot a large blow-up doll, “Otto” which will pilot them to Chicago but will not be able to land the plane. Step forward our reluctant hero, Striker. Riding in a plane is one thing though, actually having to fly it is a totally different matter.
Will our hero land the plane or will he bottle it completely…