Bronson, McLean, and Taeger are test pilots in California preparing the X-15 rocket plane for a scheduled launch. During the test run Bronson is killed, but in the process saves the lives of his copilots. The tensions of the fliers are paralleled with their home lives, while special
attention, in an almost documentary style, is paid to technological and aeronautic explanations. Jimmy Stewart narrates X-15, the directorial movie debut of Richard Donner. Donner, who began his career in television, took to the skies again in his comic-book adventure SUPERMAN.