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Skyward (1980)

An aging Bette Davis is a flight instructor at an old Texas airport. When a young girl in a wheelchair finds the airport by watching gliders fly, she decides she wants to learn how to fly. ... See full summary »


Ron Howard


Nancy Sackett, Anson Williams (story)




Cast overview, first billed only:
Bette Davis ... Billie Dupree
Howard Hesseman ... Koup Trenton
Marion Ross ... Natalie Ward
Clu Gulager ... Steve Ward
Ben Marley ... Scott Billings
Lisa Whelchel ... Lisa Ward
Suzy Barbieri Suzy Barbieri ... Julie Ward (as Suzy Gilstrap)
Irma P. Hall ... Mrs. Sinclair (as Jana Hall)
Mark Wheeler ... Mr. Olsen
Jessie Lee Fulton ... Secretary
Bill Thurman ... Pilot #1
Rance Howard ... Pilot #2
Rhonda Minton Rhonda Minton ... Stephanie
Gene Pietragallo ... Jason
Greta Blackburn ... Miss Russell
Learn more

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An aging Bette Davis is a flight instructor at an old Texas airport. When a young girl in a wheelchair finds the airport by watching gliders fly, she decides she wants to learn how to fly. Davis teaches her to fly with some special controls compensating for her handicap. Howard Hessman is a aircraft repair service trying desperately to get an old airplane back in the air. The three, together, put the young girl and the old plane up in the air. Written by Kenneth Close <kdc0001@jove.unt.edu>

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Did You Know?


Bryce Dallas Howard may have been conceived while Ron Howard was shooting this film. See more »


Billie Dupree: Why do you want to fly so badly?
Julie Ward: Because I'm tired of looking up!
See more »


Followed by Skyward Christmas (1981) See more »

User Reviews

Skyward - One to Remember!
18 July 2016 | by JLRMovieReviewsSee all my reviews

A young girl bound in a wheelchair has dreams of flying. With her daily feelings of depression, helplessness, and loneliness, she longs to break free from her doldrums and dare to do what others tell her she can't. She recently moved to a new neighborhood with her father and mother (played by Happy Days' Marion Ross) and sister (played by The Facts of Life's Lisa Whelchel.) Feeling out of place and not wanting to be in a class with other people in her situation, she drifts over to a local airport, where Howard Hesseman (WKRP in Cincinnati) is a plane mechanic. With his encouragement and the little extra nudge, she immerses herself into the wonderland above her. Her flying instructor is none other than Bette Davis, who is one tough cookie. But, she knows that her parents would be dead set against all this. Also, a "babe," as she describes him, befriends her, and their relationship is very sweet. He could have any girl in the school. But he really wanted to be with her. The film's authenticity and love of the subject matter and its characters come through to the viewer. This feel-good TV movie was directed by Ron Howard and is a very special film, and one of the few that will stay with you long afterwards.

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Release Date:

20 November 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ron Howard's 'Skyward' See more »

Filming Locations:

Dallas, Texas, USA See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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