After his parents die in an airplane crash, 8-year-old Eddie is forced to live with is uncle, Frank Haley, a reserved pilot who has also lost his wife in the crash. The pressure of caring for Eddie is too much and Haley takes a job in Guam, leaving the boy to be raised by his Mexican ranch foreman, Ernesto, and his Anglo wife, Margaret. Ten years later, the boy is a rebellious, aimless young man in his final year at a new high school. Eddie struggles with his feelings for a local Mexican girl, Francesca, who has her own share of family problems. Eddie is mired in inertia until his uncle returns to do the only thing he can do for the boy--teach him to fly. While Eddie accepts the offer, Ernesto and Margaret struggle with their own reactions to his new passion.