Doug White didn’t have time to ponder his dire situation when the pilot of his small plane died midflight in 2009.
White says he only had time to do two things: 1) pray, and 2) listen intently to the instructions of the air traffic controllers, who did their best to tell him how to fly the aircraft. The experts on the ground believed he had only a 5% chance of survival, although they didn’t tell him that at the time.
“I was so focused,” he told The Baptist Paper.
He was focused on following the directions of the men and women in the air traffic control tower. He also was focused on praying. He asked his wife and two daughters — they were the only other passengers — to do the same. “You all better start praying hard,” he said.
As for the dozens of instruments on the airplane’s panel? “I didn’t know what they were. I didn’t look at them,” he said.
White did land that plane — safely — in what air traffic controllers called a miracle.
His incredible true story is the basis of the new Amazon Prime Video movie “On a Wing and a Prayer,” which stars Dennis Quaid as White, Heather Graham as his wife and Jesse Metcalfe as an on-the-ground pilot who calmly relays instructions to White through the radio. Roma Downey (“The Bible” miniseries) produced it, while Sean McNamara (“Soul Surfer”) directed it.
It’s a faith-based movie, yes, but it’s also a faith-based hit. It debuted in Prime Video’s top five on Easter weekend and was still No. 3 on the platform more than a week later.
The film opens with a scene of White, his family and his brother at a communitywide barbecue contest before transitioning to a late-night phone call from a friend, who tells White that his brother has died of a heart attack. That shocking news sends White into a crisis of faith. It also places White and his family on a plane flight to a funeral. It is on the second leg of the trip — the plane flight on the way back from the funeral — that the pilot dies.
“On a Wing and a Prayer” is a solid addition to the faith-based genre and keeps us guessing even though we know how the story ends. We see the family pray. We see one of the main characters repent. We also see faith-centric elements throughout — a Bible on a nightstand and crosses on the wall.
More than entertainment
White said he wants the Prime Video audience to “become curious” about faith. He also wants those who have left the church “to seriously rethink their situation and to repent and go back before it’s too late.”
“I want them to be entertained, but it’s also inspirational too.”
McNamara said the film gives the audience hope. It also spotlights what McNamara believes was a miracle in the air.
“There’s so much hate going on that we have to remind ourselves with these films that there’s some goodness out there too,” McNamara told The Baptist Paper. “And if you look for it, you’ll find it.”
“On a Wing and a Prayer” is rated PG for peril, some language, suggestive references and thematic elements. (I counted eight coarse words: three instances of d–n and five OMGs.) ClearPlay and VidAngel offer filters.
Also worth watching this month:
Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (Netflix) — A young boy who grew up in a fantastical world amidst artificial vegetation is given the last “real” tree seed in the world. This 2012 Illumination animated film urges us to celebrate creation — that is, God’s creation — even though it’s not a faith-based film. Rated PG for brief mild language. (ClearPlay offers a filter.)
Miracle at Manchester (Pure Flix) — A family and community rally around a teenage boy when he faces a medical crisis. It’s a feel-good, faith-based drama based on a true story that stars Eddie McClintock, Dean Cain, Kory Getman and Daniel Roebuck.
Jesus Revolution (Home Entertainment) — A straight-laced preacher welcomes Jesus-loving hippies into his California congregation, sparking a nationwide revival. It’s the true story of the so-called Jesus Movement of the 1960s and 1970s and was made by the same company that produced “I Can Only Imagine.” It grossed more than $50 million at the box office. Rated PG-13 for strong drug content involving teens and some thematic elements.
Asbury Revival: Desperate for More (Redeem TV) — It’s a documentary about the Asbury outpouring/revival and includes interviews with those who participated. It debuted on Redeem TV, which is a donor-supported streaming service owned by the Christian History Institute and Vision Video. Visit RedeemTV.com.