Returning from a routine flight, Buck and Wilma find a small group of Earth fighters in trouble, and help to wipe out the pirate fighter pursuing them. It turns out they’ve stumbled into a live-fire exercise, and the cadets being trained aren’t just ill-equipped for combat – they’re actually ill. Dr. Huer reveals that contamination of Earth’s supply of food discs has been detected, and deliberate poisoning is now considered the most likely explanation. Cadets and experienced pilots alike are grounded as an antidote is researched, leaving Earth wide open to attack. And an attack is indeed being planned by Kaleel, the charismatic slave of a planet on which Earth depends for its food supplies. He keeps his workers loyal through the fear of death by his merest touch, and plans to use that fear to turn them into a fighting force. Now Earth’s only line of defense is a handful of pilots, one of whom is already shaping up to be Buck’s rival for everything from the other pilots’ admiration to Wilma’s affection.
Guest Cast: Buster Crabbe (Brigadier Gordon), Jack Palance (Kaleel), David Groh (Major Duke Danton), Roddy McDowell (Governor Saroyan), Brianne Leary (Ryma), Macdonald Carey (Dr. Mallory), Karen Carlson (Stella Warden), Michael Mullins (Regis Saroyan), Robert Dowdell (Galen), Sheila DeWindt (Major Fields), Don Marshall (Julio), Diane Markoff (Female Pilot), June Whitley Taylor (Woman), Borah Silver (Husband), Michael Masters (Worker), Don Maxwell (Guard), Nathanial Brian Wine (Technician)
Notes: Special guest star Larry “Buster” Crabbe was one of Hollywood’s first science fiction heroes, portraying the first film incarnation of Flash Gordon in an ongoing serial from 1936 to 1940 – and the first filmed version of Buck Rogers in 1939, which also featured Constance Moore as “Lt.” Wilma Deering, C. Montague Shaw as “Scientist General Professor Huer,” and Anthony Warde as “Killer” Kane. (That early version of Buck Rogers can be found at the DVD link above.)
LogBook entry by Earl Green