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High school adversaries, modest Pete Delaney and cynical Roman Gessler, forge an unlikely bond. Roman mysteriously disappears after graduation, but they meet again when he rescues Pete after his Phantom is shot down over Laos. Roman, now a Navy SEAL using an alias, denies they know each other. He leaves on another rescue mission hoping that his deception has not been uncovered, while Pete returns to his aircraft carrier puzzled at his old friend's behavior. They leave the military deeply scarred by the war and choose vastly different careers. Pete becomes a writer and Roman an assassin for a secret vigilante organization. Both complicate their lives with relationships involving beautiful, self-assured women. While Roman is on the run for murder, he hijacks Pete's Cessna 182 and orders him to fly far out over the Gulf of Mexico. The cramped cockpit soon becomes the arena for a contest of survival. During their death struggle they enter a graveyard spiral, and one is thrown from the aircraft. But the lone occupant in the cockpit may not be the victor after all. His fight for survival has only begun.

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