I was talking with a friend of mine about Nevil Shute. Shute has been blipping onto my radar since about ten years ago when my Science Fiction uncle gave me a copy of Slide Rule: The Autobiography Of An Engineer. Over the years I’ve gotten into Shute’s fiction, notably On The Beach and A Town Like Alice. Most recently I just finished watching, and listening to No Highway In The Sky, a pair of adaptations of Shute’s novel No Highway. Here’s the premise:
The Rutland Reindeer, a recently developed trans-Atlantic passenger aircraft, is approved for flying. But one Anglo-American scientist thinks the Reindeer’s tail may just up and fall off when it hits the golden number of flight hours. He’s got the numbers to prove a catastrophic failure is inevitable, but that won’t be enough to ground the already flying Reindeer. So, he’s dispatched to Labrador to inspect the wreckage of a recently crashed Reindeer. It was reported to have been downed by “pilot error” but our scientist thinks it may have been metal fatigue. Then comes the twist we can see coming from miles away, our hero finds himself flying aboard just such another doomed aircraft. Can the logic of his calculations be enough to persuade the captain to turn the Reindeer back to England? Or will they crash into the North Atlantic?
Jimmy Stewart and Marlene Dietrich reprise their roles on Lux Radio Theatre’s adaptation of the film – the main difference between this version, and the movie (besides the lack of video), is the in-studio audience laughing at the character based comedy in this story of suspense. It’s well worth a listen!
No Highway In The Sky
Based on a novel by Nevil Shute; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 56 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBS / Lux Radio Theatre
Broadcast: April 21, 1952
Theodore Honey (James Stewart) is a highly eccentric “boffin” with the Royal Aircraft Establishment. A widower with a precocious young daughter, Honey is sent from Farnborough to investigate the crash of a “Reindeer” airliner in Labrador, which he theorizes occurred because of a structural failure in the tail caused by sudden metal fatigue. To test his theory in his laboratory, an airframe is continuously shaken in eight-hour daily cycles. It isn’t until Honey is aboard a Reindeer that he realizes he himself is flying on one such aircraft and that it may be close to the number of hours his theory projects for the fatal failure. Despite the fact that his theory is not yet proven, Honey decides to warn the passengers and crew, including actress Monica Teasdale (Marlene Dietrich).
Here’s a section of the Dell Mapback edition of No Highway showing the locations mentioned in the story:
Posted by Jesse Willis