Flight 101

When you listen to Fight 101, it will sound like a normal radio show, complete with music and sound effects. You’ll hear the crackle and pops as the record player’s needle moves through the grooves of the record. But, this was not recorded to be used on the radio. Instead, Jimmy Stewart recorded this program for playback at a March 14, 1958, Airline Pilots Association Convention.

The script had been written by Jack Johnstone, who also produced the recording. Stewart and Johnstone had worked together before, with Johnstone producing Stewart’s series, The Six Shooter. Johnstone later re-wrote the script calling it The Midnight Sun Matter and produced it for Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar. It was broadcast on that program on May 25, 1958.

Eventually, Johnstone gave the Stewart discs to S.P.E.R.D.V.A.C. (The Society to Preserve and Encourage Radio Drama, Variety and Comedy) and they, in turn, have made the recording available to its members.

Two of S.P.E.R.D.V.A.C.’s members, twin brothers John and Larry Gassman, played the discs on their Same Time, Same Station radio program on July 6, 1997, just days after Stewart’s death. They played Flight 101 again on their program dated August 10, 2014.

In the play, Stewart portrays Charlie Dent, the pilot of United 101, who is attempting to land in Los Angeles. He is having trouble getting the main landing gear of the plane to deploy. Jack Blake, played by Harry Bartell, is the dispatcher who relays information to Dent in an attempt to land the plane safely. For Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, the pilot was flying a cargo of TNT to an Alaskan airport when he has an attack of appendicitis. At the time Jimmy Stewart on the Air was published, the Johnny Dollar show was the only source available and we thought that the Stewart plot was basically the same. This has turned out to be a false assumption.

We’ll give you both productions and you can make your own comparisons. First, the Stewart recording:

Now, here is the Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar re-write:

Act 1:

Act 2:

Act 3 (you’ll hear most of the similarities in the scripts in this act):

You may also wish to check out these sites:

S.P.E.R.D.V.A.C Homepage

S.P.E.R.D.V.A.C Facebook Page

Same Time, Same Station Facebook Page