On A Wing And A Prayer - What can I do to help?

On A Wing And A Prayer - What can I do to help?

On Easter Sunday 2009, after attending his brother's funeral, Doug White (Dennis Quaid) and his family board a private plane heading home. Their pilot dies shortly after takeoff and it's up to Doug to save his family.


Sounds like a great plot for an action thriller, right? This time, however, the story is true and On A Wing And A Prayer, directed by Sean McNamara based on a script by Brian Egeston, follows the harrowing ride and the faith that held the family together during the ordeal.


Available on Prime Video beginning April 7th, the film introduces the audience to the White family. Doug, a pharmacist by trade, took a flying lesson once with his brother and best bud, Jeff (Brett Rice), encouraging him from the back seat. It was a consummate disaster with Doug panicking at the thought of landing and passing control of the plane over to the instructor – twice.


When the brothers win the local BBQ contest, they and the family distribute leftovers to the homeless in their area. Doug's daughter, Maggie (Jessi Case), a teenager more interested in her smart phone, complains the whole time. Terri (Heather Graham), Doug's wife, long-sufferingly explains to her that there's more to the world than a screen. Bailey (Abigail Rhyne), the younger White daughter, contributes to the sibling rivalry on full display, calling out her sister's selfishness.


With Jeff's sudden death, Doug begins to question why God would let this happen. Terri, ever the rock of faith, tells him that God will never leave him. Doug is not so sure.



Dennis Quaid and Heather Graham in "On a Wing and a Prayer."  Courtesy of Prime Video: Boris Martin © 2023 Amazon Content Services LLC.



Meanwhile in Danbury, CT, Kari Sorenson (Jesse Metcalfe) hangs out in his garage with girlfriend, Ashley (Anna Enger Ritch). He's a former flight instructor haunted by a crash that took his family's lives, morosely keeping the news story pinned on the bulletin board. Kari's moods have driven Ashley to consider breaking off their relationship.


But then he gets a call on Easter Sunday that changes his life and he becomes essential to saving Doug and his family.



Jesse Metcalfe in "On a Wing and a Prayer."  Courtesy of Prime Video: Boris Martin © 2023 Amazon Content Services LLC.



It's no spoiler to say that the family makes it, but the journey is extraordinary. If they had crashed and died, there would be no movie. The coordination and help of a lot of people got the Whites safely on the ground that day. One of the things that impressed me about the film was the repetition of a line: "What can I do to help?". Terri asks Doug when he takes control of the plane. Ashley asks Kari when he gets the call to assist. A junior air traffic controller asks his boss when the crisis hits.


The air traffic controller, Brian (E. Roger Mitchell), broke the rule of no cell phone use in the tower (a federal offense), to call his friend Kari, enlisting the instructor's help, knowing he had once flown the same kind of plane Doug was now in. Bill Jones (Roger Anthony) also played a huge role, being the only person at Air Traffic Control who had flying experience.



Air Traffic Control cast in "On a Wing and a Prayer."  Courtesy of Prime Video: Boris Martin © 2023 Amazon Content Services LLC.



The film's director, Sean McNamara, said that helping others goes both ways. "It's really important to reach out and help others in any way we can and be grateful when we can say, 'what can I do to help you? I'm in a good place and I can help." The world needs more of that and these inspirational films can teach us different ways to do that."


There's another set of characters that bring a different perspective to the film. 13-year-old Donna (Raina Grey) dreams of becoming a pilot. She's got posters of Amelia Earhart on her walls and trolls the live air traffic control website to listen in on chatter. When she picks up Doug's mayday call, she's so excited she calls her friend, Buggy (Trayce Malachi), to come over and keep watch with her. Buggy's a bit freaked out because he realizes that what he's hearing could result in catastrophe but Donna explains to him all that's happening.


What's really neat about Donna is that she wants to be a pilot because one of her teachers once told her that she couldn't. McNamara agrees that this "made her even more passionate about becoming a pilot after this whole thing unfolded. I love that because that's part of the inspirational story. The younger we are we start watching the world and seeing what we want to do. I think it's great for kids. They watch this film, it's not too intense and see this young woman who wants to be a pilot. She can be a pilot. In today's world you can do anything you want to do. You just have to let people know and try and go for it."


When asked what one thing he hopes audiences will get from the film, McNamara said, "If a family could sit together for a couple of hours and just watch something together and have a talk afterwards and feel better. They might say, 'Wow! They made it but what they had to go through and how they had to work together,' that would be the best possible outcome for me. That's why I make inspirational films."


I hope your family gets to experience this prayerful, moving film together and come out with a smile on your face and a little more faith in your heart.







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