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Solo Flight

Episode Screen Caps Episode Number: 143
Season Number: 7.16
Air Date: 2/4/1987
Writer: Jay Huguely
Director: John C. Flinn III
Producer: Rick Weaver
Exec Producer: Donald P. Bellisario

Guest Stars
Norman Fell (David Albertson), Robert Phalen (Harvey Michaels)
Episode Brief
After a run of bad luck, including being fired from a case investigating embezzlement, owing Rick money, and letting T.C.'s junior baseball team down, Magnum decides to get away from it all by going on a solo mountain climbing hike, without telling anyone where he is headed. But on the climb, already suffering from a centipede bite, he becomes trapped under the wreckage of an old World War II fighter plane he discovers. With his legs caught under the wreckage, and no one knowing where he is, Magnum is forced to review his mortality, his values, and the case from which he was fired.
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1 Unusual for the show, there is no opening preview for this episode.

2 This is the third and final "Fourth of July" episode (featuring Magnum's annual tradition of spending the 4th of July alone), following "Home From the Sea" (4.1) and "Death and Taxes" (7.6).

3 This episode contains flashbacks and references to several previous episodes, including: 4 Much of this episode was filmed on the Kamehame Ridge, a ridge that lies between Hawaii Kai and Waimanalo. Several scenes from Season Two's "Mad Buck Gibson" (2.9) and Season Four's "The Look" (4.9) were also filmed on this ridge. (Noted by Sam)

5 Magnum names the spider "Herman", the same name he gave the shark in "Home From the Sea" (4.1). "Herman" is also the name he gave "the monster under his bed" as a kid.

6 Magnum's hair is much shorter in this episode as compared to the previous episode and the next one.

7 The movie that Magnum is seen watching (and rewinding) early in the episode (with jet dogfighting scenes) is the classic 1958 Korean War movie The Hunters, starring Robert Mitchum and Robert Wagner.

8 Magnum identifies the wrecked airplane as a WWII Curtiss P-40 [which is incorrect, see flub #2 below*]. The fuselage appears to be a T-28 Texan, which was leaving service in the 1980's. The nose art on the plane shows a "Sleepy-Time Gal" that is very similar to this one.

9 We learn that Magnum's father flew a Navy Grumman F9F Panther in the Korean War.

10 Magnum describes the final scene from the 1958 sci fi/horror film The Fly, "the original, not the remake". Harvey Michaels (Robert Phalen) is also seen as "The Fly" in two brief images from Magnum's delusions.

11 Higgins was recruited as a coroner (for autopsies) in North Africa, 1942.
Magnum: Failure is one of life's few absolutes. Success on the other hand is relative. For instance, there's this story of a guy who spent his entire childhood dreaming of becoming a fighter pilot. He joined up at 18, came out of flight school number one in his class, soloed like a pro, and was assigned to a top combat wing. A week before he was to fly his first mission there was a fire in his barracks. He pulled two guys from the flames and suffered third-degree burns to his hands in the process. He was a hero, and he wound up a General. But he was never able to fly again. Relative success and absolute failure. (Narration)

Magnum: It was from a different war, a different age of aircraft. This P-40 and the Navy Panther Jet my Dad flew had little in common as combat machinery, but the pilots who manned them weren't machines. Looking down on Pearl or on Korea, they probably shared a dream of finally going home, and they also shared a moment in common when they knew they weren't going to. I guess that was my main reason for coming up here. The plane had obviously been shot down, probably during the Pearl Harbor Attack. Had the pilot survived, or been found or rescued? Had he died in the cockpit, or tried to get off the mountain? I didn't know, but maybe figuring out the answer would help resolve some questions I never wanted to ask about another pilot and a summer day in Korea. (Narration)
1 If you look closely, the postion of the plane before Magnum is trapped and after he is trapped is exactly the same! The plane never really moves at all. (Noted by MPS)

2 Magnum is seen wearing "Lieutenant Commander" subdued rank insignia (brown oak leaves) on the collar of his jungle-fatigue-jacket. Magnum was never a Lieutenant Commander. He was a Lieutenant when he resigned from the Navy in 1979 (and was later promoted to Commander in Season Two's "Memories Are Forever")

3 * The airplane that traps Magnum is not a Curtiss P-40 as indicated in Magnum's narration. The vertical stabilizer of the P-40 is shorter and rounder in appearance than the stabilizer seen on the plane in this episode. The fuselage of the P-40 is also longer with the cockpit/canopy set in the middle, unlike the plane in this episode. In addition the fuselage of the P-40 is more linear than the plane we see in this episode. You will notice that the plane featured in the episode has a triangular section right behind the cockpit/canopy where the pilots head would be and that it descends downward at an angle (appx. 35 degrees) until it mees the main part of the fuselage, and then the fuselage continues until it meets the vertical stabilizer. The P-40 does not have this characteristic. The lines of the P-40 are much cleaner and do not abruptly rise in a steep angle (3 feet from the stabilizer) until it mees the cockpit/canopy. The wing tips also seem to narrow to belong to the P-40. The part of the fuselage that houses the engine is also inconsistent with the P-40. Additionally, the P-40's at the time were typically painted OD-Green and many had the famouns "sharks teeth" painted at the front of the fuselage. The fuselage used in the episode appears to be a T-28 Texan, which was leaving service in the 1980's. (Noted by IslandHopper, Dana Fraser & Paul Somerfeldt)

4 After Magnum becomes trapped under the plane and he sees the spider web for the first time, you can tell the web is a prop, which looks to be made of fishing line or string. The web is very symmetrical and flawless in appearance. However, when you see the shot of fly struggling to escape and the shot of the spider in the web going after the fly, the web is very thin, barely visible, and its pattern seems to be random exhibiting no symmetry at all. The shot appears to be older stock footage. (Noted by IslandHopper)

5 When Magnum first discovers the airplane and looks at the "Sleepy-Time-Gal" on the plane, as well as when he first becomes trapped under the plane you will see four rivets going from left-to-right just underneath the girls dress. The third rivet is actually on the girls left lower leg. However, after nightfall, Magnum is awaken by a dream of Higgins telling him to "stop the bleeding". Magnum wakes up and tries to keep from falling asleep and tries to think of songs he can sing to keep himself awake. He asks "Sleepy-Time-Gal" if she has any requests and the camera cuts to a close-up of the girl on the plane. You can see that this is not the same girl as on the original plane as you will see two rivets on her right leg (upper thigh & knee) as well as a rivet on her left elbow. These rivets were not present on the girl from the original plane. (Noted by IslandHopper)

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