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Tod and Buz motor into Pheonix, Arizona. Tod is thrilled at the prospect of going to work as a prospector for Jack Windus, the man who first taught Tod how to fly. However, when he arrives at the cropdusting outfit, Tod learns that Windus is dead. The business is now run by his wife Dora, who sleepwalks through life, refusing to accept the reality of her husband's death. The chief pilot, Summers, is a brooding depressive convinced that he will bring death and ruin into the life of anyone he is involved with. He attempts to avoid all personal entanglements, including that of his wife Christina, who is hopelessly devoted to him. Tod seeks to convince the reclusive Summers to take him on as an apprentice, while Buz meanwhile begins to fall for Christina . . .
A world-weary cropdusting pilot believes himself to be a fatal jinx.
Summers: Wherever I go, whatever I do, whatever I touch dies, rots, burns and decays – and I keep climbing a ladder, higher and higher, bone by bone and skull by skull.