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Airplane II: The Sequel (1982)

Ken Finkleman – writer of Grease 2 (1982) –  wrote and directed this sequel to the hilarious 1980 film, Airplane!, retaining most of the characters from the original movie.

After the events of the original film, Ted Striker (Robert Hays) became a moon pilot but was incarcerated in a lunatic asylum (named after Ronald Reagan) following a major screw-up, while the love of his life, the beautiful Elaine Dickinson (Julie Hagerty) is a stewardess aboard the maiden commercial space shuttle flight to the Moon.

A faulty computer sends the craft hurtling towards the Sun. Luckily a passenger (Sonny Bono) had the foresight to bring along a bomb in a briefcase. But who can bring the craft down? Guess who?


The problem is that Airplane! did not need a sequel. The original’s freshness was bound to be lost – and was.

Many gags are recycled; the hysterical woman being slapped by a long line of people, the ‘what is it?’ exchanges, McCroskey (Lloyd Bridges) leaning on his desk and mimicking the pose on the picture behind him, someone throwing away a cigarette and causing an explosion etc.

But there are some clever new gags; the poster for the in-flight movie is Rocky XXXVIII starring an elderly Sly Stallone in boxing gloves; a topical gag has E.T. trying to phone home and getting trouble from the operator; an elevator plays MacArthur Park incredibly loudly; Stryker escapes from the asylum and a searchlight picks out Jack Jones singing the theme from The Love Boat; a dog-owning family is told that ‘Scraps’ must have his shots, and then the customs officer pulls out a gun and shoots the animal, and a boy plays with a computer navigation system thinking it to be a game and almost kills all the passengers on an aeroplane.

William Shatner hams it up wonderfully as the Commander of Moonbase Alpha Beta (a reference to Space: 1999), and the presence of Peter Graves (once more as Captain Oveur) allows for a dig at Mission: Impossible.

Funniest moment – McCroskey shouts Striker’s surname and a man, misunderstanding him, punches a woman.

Airplane III was threatened but mercifully did not materialise.

Ted Striker
Robert Hays
Elaine Dickinson
Julie Hagerty
Steven McCroskey
Lloyd Bridges
Simon Kurtz
Chad Everett
Captain Clarence Oveur
Peter Graves
Navigator Dave Unger
Kent McCord
First Officer Dunn
James A Watson Jr
Commander Buck Mordock
William Shatner
The Sarge
Chuck Connors
Judge D C Simonton
Raymond Burr
Dr Stone
John Vernon
Controller Jacobs
Stephen Stucker
Bud Kruger/President Reagan
Rip Torn
Joe Seluchi
Sonny Bono

Ken Finkleman