Thunderbirds to The Rescue
Writer: Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, Martin Crump
Director: Alan Pattilo
Desmond Saunders
Editor: Len Walter
Alan Pattilo
Harry Ledger
Transmission: 1980
Realese Order
Previous: Invasion: UFO
Next: The Incredible Voyage of Stingray

Thunderbirds to the Rescue is a compilation movie containing two Thunderbirds episodes, Trapped In The Sky and Operation Crash-Dive


The Hood, the evil half brother of the Tracy's manservant Kyrano, uses his hypnotic powers to contact Kyrano through a psychiatric seizure to discover when International Rescue will be operational. On learning they are ready for action, he travels to London and places a bomb on the Fireflash, a revolutionary new atomic-powered aircraft on its maiden voyage to Tokyo. The bomb is set to detonate from the impact of landing. After being anonymously tipped off (by The Hood) that there is a bomb on board the Fireflash, London Tower contact the Fireflash crew and tell them to turn back. After having an X-Ray shot of the wing, it turns out the bomb is real. After several attempts by London Airport to remove the bomb (by aerobatics and an attempted boarding) they run out of hope.

It turns out that Tin-Tin, Kyrano's daughter, is also onboard Fireflash.

All the while John Tracy aboard Thunderbird 5, has been following their unsuccessful efforts. He contacts Tracy Island and Jeff Tracy sends Scott and Virgil in Thunderbirds 1 and 2 respectively, with Thunderbird 2 carrying Pod 3 and the Remote Control Elevator Cars.

The plan is to land Fireflash on the Remote Control Elevator Cars with the landing gear up, as they will reduce the impact of the landing and prevent the bomb from detonation.

When Thunderbird 1 lands and Scott sets up Mobile Control, The Hood tries to take photographs inside and outside of Thunderbird 1. What he is unaware of is that Scott's Mobile Control Unit, in conjunction with a device on board the craft, sets off an alarm, the Automatic Camera Detector. Scott tells the staff of London Airport, and Airport Security soon set off in a car chase with The Hood.

Meanwhile, Thunderbird 2 lands and Virgil deploys three Elevator Cars. Car 1 is manually driven by himself while Cars 2 and 3 are remote controlled by him. They drive out to Runway 29 and wait. Although there is a problem. While waiting, there is an electronic fault on Car 3, but it soon clears. At this point, Fireflash's Radiation Safety Factor is dangerously low. As Fireflash makes its approach, Car 3 goes out of control and crashes. Fireflash is ordered to overshoot and come in for another approach, while Virgil is ordered to backtrack to the start of the runway and call in the reserve car. Car 4 emerges from the Pod and makes its way over.

Now the Elevator cars are in place, and Fireflash's Radiation Safety Factor has expired. They need to land now, or else the passengers and crew will have received fatal exposure. Fireflash comes in for the final approach.

As Fireflash lowers itself onto the cars, Virgil applies the brakes and Fireflash activates the Reverse Thrust. But as they approach the end of the runway, it looks like they will crash. Virgil applies all the brakes to all cars and tries to swerve the wheels of his Master Elevator Car to slow it. As the wheels begin to explode after heating up due to the friction from breaking, Virgil loses control of Master Elevator Car and loses his position under the nose cone. As it crashes onto the runway, sparks fly and Virgil crashes into the ditch at the side of the runway. Fireflash now slows to a halt at the end of the runway, and firecrews and ambulances rush to the aircraft.

After hearing that the Airport Police lost The Hood on the M1 heading for Birmingham, Scott gets in touch with the International Rescue London Agent, Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward. She pursues The Hood in FAB1, her bright pink Rolls Royce, and using the built-in machine cannon, blows him off the road.

The Hood survives, but his photos are ruined.

Back on Tracy Island, Jeff calls a doctor to check if Kyrano is OK. While talking to Jeff, he sees the newspaper report on the Fireflash incident, and openly congratulates International Rescue. He then says, "The one thing I'd like to do is shake them by the hand." Then Jeff shakes the doctor's hand, so the doctor unwittingly gets his wish.

To this Jeff, after the departure of the doctor, says, "Well I guess that handshake was for all of us. Boys, I think we're in business."

6 months later; shortly after crossing the British coast on a flight to San Francisco, the supersonic Fireflash 3 passenger plane begins to shudder violently. In a mayday message to the London Airport Control Tower, the crew give their position and state that the aircraft is losing altitude before radio contact is lost.

A search operation is immediately launched to establish the fate of the flight, but the Fireflash has simply disappeared and the air-sea rescue planes and diverted ships are called off. The International Air Minister orders for all Fireflash craft to be grounded pending an assessment of the aircraft’s design.

On Tracy Island, the International Rescue team watch a TV news report about the disaster. Alan, completing a tour of duty onboard Thunderbird 5, informs Jeff that the crew radioed an incorrect position to London Control – Fireflash 3 was 50 miles away from that point as it disappeared. Jeff orders Alan to monitor for further transmissions and places his other sons on high alert.

Patterson, an engineer associated with the Fireflash project, fails to uncover any defects in the design that could have resulted in the loss of Fireflash 3. Commander Norman of London Control briefs a test crew to travel using another Fireflash along the same route in order to investigate the problem. However, during the flight, the elevator power unit (EPU) jams and the radio fails. The controls cease to function and the Fireflash nose-dives into the Atlantic Ocean. As Alan tells Jeff that the crew’s reported position was wide by 180 miles, the aircraft sinks before the pilot and co-pilot are able to open the jammed emergency door. Meanwhile, an unidentified man has parachuted from the undercarriage and waits to be picked up by a helijet.

Jeff resolves to rescue the crew. He orders Scott to fly out in Thunderbird 1 to conduct an electromagnetic search of the area. Virgil, Gordon and Brains blast off in Thunderbird 2 with Pod 4. Brains theorizes that the crew may still be alive and that the craft is lying intact on the seabed. Although this is exactly what has happened, the air supply onboard is fast diminishing and the pilots cannot contact the outside world. Virgil deploys the pod so that Gordon can launch Thunderbird 4 and locate the Fireflash based on Scott’s rough position.

Thunderbird 4 is spotted by the pilots who attract Gordon’s attention by flashing warning lights. Acting on Brains’s instructions, he cuts off the craft’s heavy engines using Thunderbird 4’s laser beam to make it float to the surface. However, the Fireflash’s controls burst into flames, the smoke choking the pilots until Gordon is able to mount the craft’s exterior and manually cut a hole through the window. Virgil lowers a lift from Thunderbird 2 and hauls the men to safety. Gordon returns to Thunderbird 4 just in time before the Fireflash is destroyed in a huge explosion.

With air chiefs agreeing that the source of the trouble has been in the starboard wing’s hydraulics system, Jeff contacts Commander Norman, offering to resolve the crisis once and for all by sending Thunderbird 2 to fly alongside a Fireflash to respond to any problems. Norman insists that Captain Hansen, who was saved by International Rescue when the Fireflash’s maiden flight was jeopardized, should be onboard.

As Thunderbird 2 lands at London Control carrying Scott, Virgil and Gordon, Jeff commands Alan in Thunderbird 5 to closely monitor the flight. The Fireflash takes off with Scott and Hanson at the controls, flanked by Thunderbird 2. As they cross the coast, Scott gives Alan a false position. As he corrects the aircraft’s course, it is deduced that the locator must be malfunctioning, but once again radio contact is cut off and the Fireflash starts to lose altitude. Ignoring London Control’s advice that Scott and Hansen abort the mission and bail out, Virgil asks Hanson to open the undercarriage hatch. With 15 minutes remaining before impact on the ocean surface, Virgil passes beneath the Fireflash so that Gordon, kitted out with breathing equipment, can fire a clamp through the hatch to climb onboard and fix the fault. Preparing to ascend, Gordon is startled by what appears to be a man inside the undercarriage, but thinks that it is just his imagination. Arriving inside and with only three minutes to go, Gordon makes his way to the EPU to find that the wires have been deliberately cut and that this is the reason behind all the flights’ loss of altitude. Before Gordon can radio Scott, the saboteur responsible for the previous crash, who has been stowed away the whole time, shoots at him. After a brief gunfight, the assailant jumps through the hatch despite Gordon’s assurances that his parachute would fail to open in time. Seconds before impact, Gordon brings the sheared wires together. Fireflash pulls out of its dive, gains height and avoids crashing into the ocean.

Back on Tracy Island a few days later, the team are watching a TV newsreader announce the forthcoming revival of Fireflash flights, and that the criminal gang behind the crashes has been exposed, when the set suddenly turns off. When Grandma apologises and says that a fuse has blown, Scott suggests that the electronics expert, Gordon, should fix it.



  • This is the first Thunderbirds compilation film, though was erroneously released as Volume 3 of Thunderbirds in the UK on VHS.
  • The spilt between the two episodes features a subtitle stating "London Airport - 6 months later"
  • The movie was released on DVD in Italy with both the Italian and English dub. Both tracks lack any of the additional music present in the original compilation film, the audio coming from the original episodes themselves.
  • Many scenes are cut for time purposes more notably the scene from ‘’Trapped In The Sky’’ showing the TX-204 during Target practice and when Scott sets up mobile control at the farm in ‘’Operation Crash-Dive’’. Also cut is when Captain Hansen brings out Fireflash.
  • Since Ray Barrett was the voice of Alan in Trapped In The Sky and Matt Zimmerman every other episode, he is noticeably voiced by two voice actors in the movie.
  • The additional music choices added to the episodes are the most repetitive of any other Thunderbirds compilation film. The music was mostly sourced from the two episodes in this film along with music used in the ‘’UFO’’ episode Reflections In The Water
  • When the helijet comes to pick up the Saboteur, the music edited is cut badly as the beginning music played during the scene in the original episode can be heard briefly before cutting off. Sound Effects from the ship are also absent thanks to the cut.


  • This is the only compilation film to feature the Hood. Until the series was released properly to the US, the Hood is not heard from again like he proclaims at the middle of the movie.
  • Due to cut in film, the viewer is left to assume that the TX-204 was always at London Airport

See AlsoEdit