Douglas Corrigan stars in the story behind his "wrong way" flight to Ireland.
In San Antonio in 1917 ten-year-old Clyde Corrigan (Gene Reynolds) is fascinated by airplanes. His eccentric father (J. M. Kerrigan) leaves home, and Clyde takes the name Douglas. A year later his mother (Dorothy Peterson) moves the family to Los Angeles. Doug Corrigan (Douglas Corrigan) works in a bottling plant and studies aviation. After his mother dies, Doug gets a job as an airplane mechanic. Butch (Paul Kelly) tells Doug he used to fly but was hit in the war. Joe Alden (Robert Armstrong) gives Doug his first flying lesson. At a food stand Maybelle (Dorothy Appleby) and Sally (Joyce Compton) ask Butch and Doug to take them up in a plane for a week's meals. At night Butch walks on the wing, falls, and parachutes. Doug has to land the plane and smashes it. Thompson (Donald MacBride) fires Doug and Butch, warning Butch not to fly anymore.
Butch and Doug work so they can buy a plane. Lindbergh flies to Paris. Butch and Doug get Smedley to sponsor a plane. Joe has Doug and Butch take a physical exam for a pilot's license; but Butch has a bad heart and fails it. Butch gets angry at Joe and knocks him down. Butch takes off in the plane and flies recklessly. Butch tries a power dive, passes out, and crashes. Joe tells Doug that people want safety in flying now. Doug's brother Henry (Eddie Quillan) wants to fly with him, but Doug says no to barnstorming. A personnel manager (Minor Watson) tells Doug he needs a thousand hours for a commercial flying job. Henry gets his degree and a job in New York. Doug gets his hours but is told he needs more experience. Doug inherits money from his father and buys a plane for $800. Doug barnstorms, and Henry joins him. In San Diego a tire blows, and Henry decides to stay on the ground.
Doug is rejected again but is told a great flight like Lindbergh's could make a difference. Doug borrows money from Henry to fly to Ireland; but Joe won't approve the flight. Doug gets 320 gallons of gas and flies from San Diego to New York without stopping. Howard Hughes takes off for Paris and circles the globe; but Doug is grounded. Henry pleads with Joe. Henry calls Doug that he has permission to fly back to San Diego. Doug takes off with a dangerous load of gas and flies east. Leaking gas almost causes him to pass out, but he gets rid of it. Doug lands in Ireland and claims he doesn't know where he is. Doug is called "Wrong Way" Corrigan and returns a hero to San Antonio.
This docudrama has comic and tragic elements but focuses
on the determination of Doug to become a pilot. The story shows
how the celebrity gained by pioneering pilots inspires Doug's