During takeoff for a flight to Europe, Flight 115, a Royce Air International Boeing 747 flying from New York to London is struck by lightning. Although the flight continues, the lightning strike has killed the flight crew and disabled the radio communications to the ground. Laurie Ann Pickett (Kate Jackson), the senior flight attendant, enlists the aid of passenger Brett Young (Ed Marinaro), and together, they determine that the autopilot can bring the aircraft in for a landing.
The autopilot that they rely on, begins to malfunction, homing in on airfield transponders at random, even airports that are too small to accommodate the large jetliner. Both Laurie and Brett realize they may have to find a way to land the aircraft by themselves. Veering to a completely new heading, the airliner turns from its flightpath over the Atlantic Ocean to fly to the Pacific Coast of North America.
On the ground, federal officials who have lost radio contact with the 747, start a debate as to when the aircraft should be shot down to prevent a more disastrous crash in a heavily populated area. Tensions begin to come to a head on board the stricken airliner, with a landing at Vancouver, British Columbia, becoming their only option.
Principal photography on Panic in the Skies took place in Vancouver, British Columbia.
While not reviewed by critics in mainstream media, Panic in the Skies did garner some interest from internet bloggers and other film critics. Film reviewer Sergio Ortega noted the "unfortunately bad movie ...", was filled with continuity and "unbelievable" aerial errors on the Boeing 747.