Flying With Angels Genre: Action/Adventure
Logline: A young, accomplished, educated woman of her times is challenged by the rules of society, who must make the inevitable choice of becoming the power of one. This is a turn of the 20th century drama, about a woman who wanted to leave the boundaries of earth and of life. She created, engineered, and built her own airplane to become the first woman in America to fly. She has been lost to history and her story has never been told.
BESSICA FAITH MEDLAR RAICHE is both unconventionally independent and ambitious for a woman of the early twentieth century. Today she will be the first American woman to attempt to fly an airplane. She sits in a small barely lit room, looking over a small wooden angel carving in her hand. A policeman enters the room whereshe sits and asks if she is ready. Bessica requests more time and looks over the angel again, thinking back on her life. Young Bessica sits on her parlor couch with her younger sister, huddled together. They listen to their mother’s agonizing screams as she gives birth to another child.
The screams end and two doctors with bloodied cuffs exit both the stairs and the Medlar home. Bessica, both curious and afraid, treks upstairs to her mother’s room. Her mother looks drained of nearly all life and Bessica notices a small, lifeless bundle on a nearby chair that would have been her baby brother. Bessica is deeply affected by the loss of her brother and pours her heart out to her Irish GRANDFATHER.
They sit under a tree together and her Grandfather crafts a wooden carving as they talk. He consoles her by saying that her brother is in heaven. Bessica is frustrated by his simple reply and says she doesn’t believe that. Her grandfather reminds her that her middle name is “Faith” and that because of that, she should not be afraid to believe in anything. Bessica listens to her grandfather and opens her heart to faith as he gives her the gift of a small, wooden angel. Bessica grows up a strong-hearted tomboy, pursuing any and every interest she has, no matter how society may disapprove.
She engages in athletics with other boys her age, paints, plays the violin, and actively engages and soaks up the life around her. One night, Bessica’s drunken father comes home and announces that he and her mother are divorcing because of his drinking problem. The next morning Bessica speaks with her mother about the divorce and her mother apologizes for the black mark this will leave on their family. “I told you I don’t worry about what people think” Bessica says to her mother.
She rebukes Bessica for showing no care about how she is perceived by those around her but, in light of her recent divorce, she also encourages her to be strong enough to take care of herself and those around her. Bessica considers this and announces to her mother that she is going to become a doctor. Eleven years pass and one day, as Bessica and her mother are running errands; she spots a new headline about the Wright brothers. She devours the article as a new dream is awakened in her: to fly.
Bessica continues to throw herself into her studies and becomes a dental assistant to a man named DR. CARAVEAU. One day, before the doctor can make it into his office, a handsome young Frenchman named FRANCOIS RAICHE, walks into the office with an agonizing toothache. Bessica is eager to practice solo on the new patient and gets to work on a wary Francois. As Bessica finishes with Francois, Dr. Caraveau bursts into the office, outraged by Bessica’s actions. The waters calm when Francois is shown to be both unharmed and relieved of his toothache. Francois is deeply impressed and attracted to Bessica and the two begin a romantic relationship.
As their relationship progresses, Francois discovers more and more how uniquely independent and talented Bessica is. She graduates from medical school and begins her career as a gynecologist working with poor women in tenement houses. She also begins educating women, in secret, about birth control. Bessica becomes exhausted from both the physical and emotional work as a gynecologist, so Francois surprises her with a trip to France. While in France, Bessica actively explores and engages in all the diversions around her, much to the exhaustion and anxiety of Francois. While there, Francois surprises Bessica with a trip to an airfield to watch the men attempt to fly their planes.
Bessica is captivated by the one pilot who has managed to successfully fly their plane. When the plane lands, she discovers that the pilot is a woman named MADAME THERESE PELTIER. Bessica introduces herself to Therese and Therese begins teaching her all about aviation. Francois begins to feel neglected and grows weary of all the gossip and ridicule that Bessica’s behavior subjects them to. Their trip in France ends and Bessica and Francois return home. When they exit the ship they are swarmed by reporters who grill Bessica about her time in France and her pursuit of flying.
Bessica and Francois are annoyed by this new level of attention but do their best to go about their normal lives, though Bessica’s now includes building an airplane. She tracks down every mechanic she can to help her build her plane but is turned down. While she is attempting to build her plane, reporters are busy tracking her story and criticizing her “unfeminine” endeavor. SCHMIDT, one particularly unscrupulous yellow journalist, writes exceptionally cutting articles about Bessica. Though Bessica is hurt by the articles, she holds on to her identity and forges ahead. Francois finds a rough-edged yet kind-hearted mechanic with a sketchy past named CROCKER to help Bessica build the plane. As Bessica, Francois, and Crocker work on the plane, Schmidt continues to denounce Bessica through his scathing articles.
In the midst of building her plane, Bessica manages to continue her practice as a gynecologist, still educating women in secret about birth control. As they work on the plane, Bessica is enthused by the work while Francois is drained and asks if he can “take a break from this airplane business” Bessica takes this as a rejection and it begins to drive a wedge between her and Francois. She and Crocker continue to work strenuously on the plane. One night, Bessica is followed by a mysterious figure, runs home in panic, and barricades herself inside. She is very frightened by the event, not knowing it is another badgering reporter, MR. RILEY who has been spying on her and trying to see the plane she is building. Bessica and Francois attend a museum gala and the anger, hurt, and resentment between them surfaces.
They break from each other and Bessica wanders around the museum alone only to later discover Francois chatting with a group of men, one of which asks if Francois is involved in “that silliness” of building an airplane. Francois is torn between his loyalties to Bessica and the expectations of masculine society. “None of that silliness for me” he replies. Bessica is deeply hurt and, after the gala, she storms out and takes a carriage home as Francois tries to explain. At home, Francois catches up to Bessica and explains that, though he does believe in her, others will not believe in her as he does. Bessica says she is aware that she is not accepted by society, that she will never stop pursuing her dreams, and that she is hurt that Francois seems to not even know who she truly is.
After this, they start living separate lives under the same roof. Bessica and Crocker continue their work on the plane and Crocker informs Bessica that he must retrieve the last part of the plane from a man that was part of his shady past. This alarms Bessica but she lets Crocker go and he meets with the man outside a tavern. Crocker keeps running into old friends and they persuade him to come inside and have a drink. Crocker refuses at first, but then concedes and drinks the night away. When he leaves the tavern in the morning and returns to his garage with the plane part, he realizes he has been followed by Mr. Riley. Crocker grabs Riley and inquires as to who he is and what he wants. Riley refuses to answer and Crocker knocks him around a bit until he confesses that he is there to see the plane.
Crocker refuses to show Riley and Riley blackmails him by saying if he won’t show him the plane, he will expose his shady past. This angers Crocker and he gives Riley a good beating. Crocker finishes working on the plane but is unaware that a hose has been knocked loose. A large crown gathers on the day of Bessica’s flight attempt and she and Crocker prepare for her flight. Francois appears and apologetically asks if he can assist them. Bessica coldly brushes him off. Bessica has trouble getting the plane to start but after the plane starts she heads down the airfield and Crocker realizes the loose hose. He yells to Bessica to stop, but she can’t hear him and he is swallowed by the crowd. Because of Mr. Riley’s blackmail, policemen come to arrest Crocker. Francois watches Crocker and understands something is wrong.
The plane rattles, the wings scrap and buckle, and Bessica crashes. Francois races to the crash site and Bessica emerges disheveled but unharmed. Reporters swarm her with questions and she notices Crocker being led away by police. Bessica begins to ask Crocker about his meeting last night. Fearing she will get into trouble, Crocker cuts her off and claims she must have been hit on the head. Bessica feels guilty that Crocker is in trouble because of her plane but Crocker reassures her that he regrets nothing and that he would have been arrested anyway. Bessica is discouraged by her failure and returns to her work as a gynecologist.
One night, in her depression, Bessica wanders around town. While she’s gone, Francois looks for the plane blueprints and begins working through the night to improve them. When Bessica returns home in the morning, she falls asleep on the couch and sleeps into the evening. When she awakes, Francois has made her dinner and as she sits to eat, she breaks down and begins to cry about all that has transpired. Francois asks for forgiveness and pulls out the new blueprints. Bessica comes to life again and she and Francois begin working on the plane inside their parlor. The plane is complete but they realize that, in their passionate construction of the plane, they have built the plane too large to exit their home. Bessica and Francois decide to break down the walls of their parlor and free the plane.
Schmidt finds out that his wife has been given information about birth control and is furious when he finds out that Bessica is behind it. He goes out to a tavern and encounters another disgruntled husband named WELLER. Schmidt and Weller decide to join forces to ruin Bessica. On the day before Bessica’s second flight attempt, she fields questions from reporters and Francois is approached by Schmidt and Weller. They tell him that he must let Mr. Riley “fix” Bessica’s plane so that her flight will fail again or else they will expose her illegal act of educating women about birth control. Francois feels trapped and he concedes. On the day of the flight, Bessica sits in a small barely lit room as she looks over the wooden angel.
The policeman enters and asks is she is ready, she asks for more time, and he exits. After a moment to gather herself, Bessica exits to an even larger crowd than before. Therese Peltier has come to support Bessica and Bessica asks her if she has seen Francois. Francois is at a nearby tavern drinking his anxiety away when the bartender recognizes him and asks him about Bessica’s flight. Francois slowly comes to, remembering what is happening, and he jumps up and races to the airfield. Bessica is just about to take off when Francois tries to warn her about the “fixed” plane. She notices him but it is too loud for her to understand what he’s saying.
Mr. Riley appears and, with Schmidt standing nearby, holds a gun to Francois, demanding that he reassure her instead. Francois reassures Bessica and she starts down the airfield. Francois maneuvers himself away from the gun, takes the pencil from Schmidt’s pocket, breaks it, throws it in his face, and announces that “We’re done, and I’m done” As Bessica gains speed down the airfield, she begins to struggle to steer the plane. She notices the steering cable is frayed and unraveling. She leans to grab it and the cable snaps and loops twice around the support cables.
Bessica unhooks herself from her harness and reaches for the cable, her plane veers dangerously, but she corrects it. The cable unloops once and she reaches again for it and misses. The cable waves back and forth then it unloops for the second time as it dangles dangerously, ready to slip at any moment. Bessica’s life flashes before her eyes, everything that has led her to this moment.
She pulls together and reaches one last time, grabs the cable, and wraps it franticly around her wrist. She tests the steering cable with her wrist and is satisfied. She pulls back, the plane’s wheels leave the ground, and she continues upward. The crowd’s heads tilt upwards as her plane ascends higher and stabilizes in the air. A roar of applause erupts from the crowd as Bessica looks down smiling and flying with the angels.