Airport 1970,

Minute 101: Under the Circumstances

December 19, 2016

Guest Host: Phil Burke

Phil Burke is the real-life counterpart to Airport’s Mel Bakersfeld character. He’s been the Director of Operations for the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport since May of 2013. Unlike Mel, Phil gets home on time at the end of a normal workday, doesn’t have a loud-mouthed brother-in-law pilot, and unfortunately doesn’t have a fireplace near his office.


Mel, Tanya, Bert Weatherby, and Harry Standish continue to listen to Trans Global Two’s voice traffic on Mel’s aircraft radio. Cleveland Center approves Flight Two’s descent to flight level Two One Zero.

Commissioner Ackerman steps into Mel’s office, inexplicably from Mel’s work room. “Mel,” says Ackerman, “I’ve just talked to the other commissioners, and they all agree with me. So as not to have any more trouble with the Meadow Wood residents, I’m instructing you to shut the airport down until seven a.m.”

Mel takes the copy of the Selcal dispatch to Flight Two from his desk. He hands it to Ackerman.

“Read this,” says Mel. “It’s a dispatch we just sent. The plane’s on its way back here. Do you still want us to shut down?”

Ackerman reads the dispatch, then looks back at Mel. “Under the circumstances,” says Ackerman, “I, uh…” and trails off. Ackerman exits through Mel’s work room door. Mel sits back at his desk and continues to listen to the aircraft radio.

“Global Two, Toronto Center,” says the voice on the radio. “Continue slow descent.”

Meanwhile on Flight Two,  Gwen and Ada put Vernon’s plan to distract Guerrero into action.  Gwen pretends to strong-arm Ada back to her seat in Tourist Class, while Ada dabs at her eyes with a handkerchief. Ada is sobbing, and the passengers react with outrage.

Mr. Davidson in 23-C stands up. “Now, whatever she’s done,” says Mr. Davidson to Gwen, “you don’t have to be so rough!”

Gwen steers Ada into her seat and turns to Mr. Davidson. “Please, don’t interfere!” says Gwen.

Vern, hiding behind the First Class bulkhead curtain, sneaks a peek at the drama unfolding in Coach.

Ada is doing her part in the melodrama. “Ask the Captain to reconsider!” she pleads with Gwen. “I don’t want to be handed over to the Italian police!”

“You should have thought of that before!” shouts Gwen. “Now, get back in your seat!”

“All I ask is to be sent back, ” sobs Ada. “Please don’t hand me over in a foreign country!”

“Can’t -” begins Mr. Davidson.

In this minute

Larry Gates as Commissioner Ackerman
Jean Seberg as Tanya Livingston
Burt Lancaster as Mel Bakersfeld
Lloyd Nolan as Harry Standish
Clark Howat as Bert Weatherby
Whit Bissell as Mr. Davidson
Dean Martin as Vernon Demerest
Jacqueline Bissett as Gwen Meighan
Helen Hayes as Ada Quonsett
Van Heflin as D.O. Guerrero
Peter Turgeon as Marcus Rathbone



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