Small Flyers by Jim Boston | Script Revolution

Small Flyers

In 1946 Albuquerque, two preteen girls decide to take up flying...surprising their father, a World War 2 Army Air Corps pilot struggling to readjust to civilian life, where female aviators still aren't respected.



Page Count: 



Age Rating:


It’s Tuesday, January 1, 1946...and the United States has lots to celebrate after triumphing in the most destructive armed conflict ever waged.

The Liberty Cafe in Albuquerque, New Mexico is one of the nation’s many party spots in this hope-filled new year. That’s where ROMAN EVANS, his wife TRUDY, and their daughters SHIRLEY and FRANNY revel with friends and neighbors.

When it comes time to drink toasts and make wishes, rambunctious, gung-ho 10-year-old Franny decides: “I’d like to fly a plane...just like Daddy did.” Sweet, gentle, kindhearted 11-year-old Shirley adds: “Me, too.”

The preteens’ pledge is a major shock to the otherwise quiet-and-humble Roman...who, after flying forty combat missions over Europe in the Army Air Corps the previous three-and-a-half years, is back driving a forklift truck for Albuquerque’s Superior Lumber Company.

Still, Roman advises Shirley and Franny to learn everything the twosome can about airplanes...and, for that matter, about cars. The two youngest Evanses take their father’s advice to heart...whether it’s figuring out how to make paper airplanes, reading Al Avery’s books for inspiration, or, in Shirley’s case, developing her own sense of that old aviation staple of tunnel vision to help her become a better pianist.

But the former pilot can use some of that advice himself: As a forklift operator, Roman struggles to get his prewar chops back...a concern to coworker CLIFF RHINER, the philosophical mechanic who got his job back from perky Trudy once the Allies and Axis Powers laid their weapons down.

At Eugene Field School, Franny and Shirley find two strong faculty allies in clever, innovative KATHRYN PSALTIS, a music teacher who prefers playing guitar to tickling the ivories; and jovial ROY PLASMAN, a science teacher who left his native Louisiana because he got tired of playing the racism game. Trudy’s and Roman’s progeny also encounter a nemesis: Skeptical JEANNINE EARLE, who teaches English...and teaches that flying a plane isn’t a worthy ambition for little girls.

Never mind about Amelia Earhart, Bessie Coleman, or all those Women’s Army Service Pilots.

Shirley and Franny work to get smarter about cars and planes at a time when Trudy shocks Roman by repairing the family’s kitchen radio herself...and, in celebration, the Evanses take a Groundhog Day ride in their 1935 Ford sedan. Shirley’s first time behind the wheel is slightly successful...but Franny’s debut as a driver results in a collision involving a rival clan: Dad BUDDY, mom HAPPY, and 12-year-old SONNY KREITLING.

Nobody dies or suffers physical injuries...but Franny finds her pride wounded.

Trudy, Shirley, and Roman work to console the youngest Evans, even to where the foursome fix the Ford...but nothing takes hold better than Shirley encouraging her sis to play the drums. Eventually, the talk turns to the two little girls deciding to form a band, one “kinda like the Benny Goodman Quartet.”

While Shirley talks best friend and classmate RACHEL PETERS into bringing her trombone skills into the act, Franny invites classmate VIRGINIA BRECHLER to become the group’s bass player. And when driven Rachel and otherwise-bashful Virginia team up with Franny and Shirley and call themselves the Albuquerque Four, they land a gig at the Eugene Field School PTA meeting that May.

It’s all set...until, at the meeting itself, and at the last possible moment, PTA chief MARY ELLEN MARGENTHALER won’t let the band perform due to the presence of a Black member in Rachel: “Some of the parents have a problem with a mixed-race band.”

Kathryn saves the night by inviting those PTA participants who want to see the jazz band play to “a place where they can perform without people getting upset about the band being integrated.”

The place: The cocktail lounge section of the Liberty Cafe...the last spot you’d expect to find children.

But Franny, Rachel, Shirley, and Virginia earn a standing ovation for their jazz playing...and Shirley and Franny lose their first flight instructor, prickly EDDIE PITLOCK, the former Army Air Corps pilot credited with about three-and-a-half times as many bombing missions as Roman.

Eddie’s got a problem with mixed-race get-togethers. Period.

The Evanses find a replacement in fun-loving ERNIE MENDOZA, who encourages Franny’s and Shirley’s two-ply career path...and who enables the youngsters to get further along in their flight training than Eddie did.

Things begin to look up for the family: The daughters’ paper airplanes improve greatly...Trudy becomes a part-time auto mechanic...Roman gets his lumber-yard groove back...and Mary Ellen not only apologizes for cheating the Albuquerque Four out of that PTA opportunity, but gets to hear the band play.

A phoned-in death threat against Roman puts a crimp in things...yet doesn’t prevent him, Trudy, Shirley, and Franny from seeking to make every minute count, thanks to a Mary Ellen-masterminded outing at the famous Alvarado Hotel, with the Albuquerque Four providing the music.

Plus: Not even the death threat can derail Shirley’s and Franny’s big day of June 29, where each girl takes a turn in control of the West Mesa Airport’s training plane, a 1946 Stinson 108 four-seater. On this date, Ernie, Roman, and Trudy are strictly passengers.

Shirley takes the plane around Albuquerque and lands it...despite a wing starting to loosen. In Franny’s turn, smoke emerges from the engine...and forces the young drummer to make an emergency landing; she and her passengers make it to safety just before the plane explodes.

At the Liberty Cafe on July 4, the mood is festive again...with an assist from Jeannine, who salutes the two youngest Evanses and apologizes to them for doubting their grit and determination.

And she comes to realize that children should be anything they want, regardless of gender.

Submitted: March 28, 2022
Last Updated: July 28, 2022

Want to read this script? You must join the revolution first. Don't worry, it's free, easy, everyone's welcome, and you can start reading right away.

This Script Is Loved By 1 Readers

D.C. Copeland's picture
Jim Boston's picture

The Writer: Jim Boston

I first got interested in screenwriting as a college student in 1979 (Iowa State University); an additional impetus was the paperback version of the "American Graffiti" screenplay. From 1980 to 1994, I pursued screenwriting with a vengeance...but other things happened in my life. Since 2016, I've been back chasing the dream...and it's only because I inherited a Power Mac from one of the codirectors (Nick Holle) of a documentary I was in: "The Entertainers," about the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest and Festival. (Nick received the computer from the husband-and-wife couple who helped produce the film, Brent and Jackie Watkins.) The Power Mac has a copy of Final Draft 6... Go to bio

More Scripts From Jim

Got Any More Bullets, Sister?
Two siblings struggling as vendors in 1930 Cleveland seek to better their lives...but while one woman decides to enter music, her sister chooses a life of crime.
Feature Action, Comedy, Crime For sale 95pp
7 readers love this script
Kitten on the Keys
In 1876, the death of her husband on a train trip out West forces a college-educated woman to strike out on her own at the next stop: Dodge City, KS.
Feature Comedy, Western For sale 106pp
4 readers love this script
Pixie Dust
Two modern-day University of Minnesota-Twin Cities students start their own sorority in order to reach out to other female UMN-Twin Cities students tired of being marginalized.
Feature Comedy For sale 120pp
4 readers love this script
Tin Mine
Looking to get their musical careers out of a rut in 1939 New York City, a song plugger and a radio organist become composers.
Feature Comedy, Music For sale 104pp
4 readers love this script
Bleeding Gums
A math teacher at an all-girls' high school in present-day Omaha, NE seeks to fill a void in her school's activities by forming its first jazz band.
Feature Comedy, Music For sale 128pp
2 readers love this script
Fine Tooth Comb
Inspired by a videotape, a teenager in 1994 Davenport, IA forms her own band with the hopes of playing at the local Dixieland jamboree, the Bix Beiderbecke Jazz Festival.
Feature Comedy, Family, Music For sale 112pp
2 readers love this script
Shorthose and Flaxbeard
An inept comic magician playing Seattle in 1917 seeks to turn her career around by landing herself a partner...a beloved theater organist-piano teacher who's fascinated with vaudeville.
Feature Comedy For sale 117pp
2 readers love this script
Jingle Belles
Seeking to usher in the new breed of rock-and-roll hitmakers, a songwriter-manager-record producer and a record-store clerk unite to start their own music-publishing company in 1959 New York City.
Feature Comedy, Music For sale 114pp
2 readers love this script
Gayle Strawberry and Her Soda Pop Music Makers
It's the summer of 1942, and a Los Angeles teenager starts her own swing band in the hopes of entering it in the first annual National Swing Contest.
Feature Comedy, Drama, Family, Music For sale 130pp
2 readers love this script
The Nutcrackers
Pondering life after ballet and ex-dancer Vanessa Carlton's Grammy-nominated success, two star ballerinas in present-day Kansas City, MO seek to become blues musicians at a famous local bar and grill.
Feature Comedy, Music For sale 128pp
1 reader loves this script
Golden Oldies
Thanks to a phone call from a fellow former Iowa State University student, a librarian in modern-day Ames, IA looks to put her old rock band back together...and conquer a legendary local venue.
Feature Comedy, Drama, Music For sale 123pp
1 reader loves this script
Pipe Up!
An Arizona Cardinals cheerleader, a frustrated musician following in her late granddad's famous footsteps, seeks to save a landmark restaurant in contemporary Mesa, AZ from becoming the area's new Department of Homeland Security headquarters.
Feature Comedy, Sport For sale 127pp
1 reader loves this script
Yes, Indeed!
Tired of being out of showbiz, two child TV stars of the 1970s ride the late-1980s swing revival by forming their own big band in hopes of playing a respected Los Angeles jazz club.
Feature Comedy, Music For sale 119pp
1 reader loves this script
Rivertown Rock!
It's Sunday, February 9, 1964...when the Beatles' appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" inspires a Sioux City, IA teenager to start her own rock group and show that girls can play the music, too.
Feature Comedy, Family, Music For sale 120pp
1 reader loves this script
Rapunzel and Lady Godiva
Determined to strengthen their bond in present-day Chicago, a theater student and her ultrafeminist younger sister become a duo-piano lounge act...that Big Sister's singing ex-boyfriend schemes to horn in on.
Feature Comedy, Music, Romance For sale 120pp
Pushing the Envelope
A psychology major and a film buff put their University of Oklahoma sorority on the line in an effort to determine if "Animal House" antics fly in today's campus climate.
Feature Comedy For sale 115pp
Edna's Garage (S1E1)
Swamped with more vehicles than time to fix them, the three mechanics at an auto-repair firm in modern-day New Orleans cajole their boss into hiring an extra coworker to lighten the load.
TV Pilot Comedy For sale 31pp
Angry over years of racist slights, four neighboring families in present-day San Diego entice the perpetrators into a sensitivity-training weekend...and hope to teach them about the value of unity.
Feature Comedy, Drama, Family For sale 104pp
Cynthia Harmon
A talented, inventive collegian in search of a vaudeville career in 1924 Detroit squares off against her adopting aunt...a jealous, cutthroat theatrical agent grooming her own three showbiz-minded daughters.
Feature Comedy, Family For sale 119pp
Seeking to break away from the mainstream, three teenage ragtime musicians in 1984 Sioux Falls, SD strive to establish their band's sound...and work to build an appreciative following.
Feature Comedy, Family, Music For sale 128pp