Heather Graham is playing Dennis Quaid’s better half in a family vacation gone wrong, Deadline reports on Thursday. On a Wing and a Prayer is a riveting tale of faith, hope, and courage in the face of insurmountable odds — a picture of the human spirit at its finest. It tells the inspiring true story of Doug White (Quaid), a family man forced to land a plane when the pilot unexpectedly dies. White is a small-time pilot unfamiliar with the mechanics of a commercial jetliner and is in a race against time to save everyone on board, including his wife (Graham) and children.
MGM is collaborating with Roma Downey and Autumn Bailey-Ford of Lightworkers Media on the real-life family drama, with Mark Burnett executive producing. Lesser-known television director Sean McNamara is spearheading the project based on a screenplay written by Brian Egeston. Heather Graham is the most recent addition to the cast. The movie was announced in January courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter.
Aside from the occasional press release, little is known about the true story behind On a Wing and a Prayer: a hero passenger who stepped up during an emergency and saved over a hundred lives, including his family’s. More so for the character, Heather Graham is portraying. Those news-savvy folks during the late 2000s, however, will remember the harrowing details of that 2009 King Air flight, where a man who had only flown four-place Cessna 172s was suddenly tasked with the overwhelming burden of landing a “gorilla” of a twin-turboprop engine King Air 200 without harming a single soul on board.
Then-56-year-old private pilot Doug White had just attended his brother’s funeral in Marco Island, Florida when tragedy struck on a chartered flight back to Monroe, Louisiana. Joe Cabuk, the designated pilot of the King Air 200, had suffered a catastrophic personal emergency: for reasons unknown, he died at the controls after engaging the autopilot. The plane was climbing to its preset altitude, but White noticed it kept ascending. If the aircraft didn’t level off soon, it would most certainly go into a stall and spiral rapidly to the ground. The stakes are certainly loftier, as White’s wife (Heather Graham) and two teenage daughters were also in the plane.
White immediately sprung into action. He contacted the air traffic controllers over at Miami Center and Ft. Myers Approach and declared an emergency. An experienced King Air pilot guided him every step of the way, but even the problems only kept mounting. At one point, White’s wife Terry — to be played in the movie by Heather Graham — went into the cockpit to assist. As White carefully descended, alarms started sounding around them. Husband and wife said a heartfelt prayer — and eventually landed the plane safely with seconds to spare. Nobody on board was injured and Doug White became a national hero.
MGM Motion Picture Group chairman Michael de Luca and president Pamela Abdy described the adaptation of White’s heroic miracle to The Hollywood Reporter as truly arresting. The statement reads: “On a Wing and a Prayer is a gripping take on a very real survivor story and illuminates the remarkable power of the human spirit. Doug White is the definition of a hero. We are thrilled to partner with Mark, Roma, and Autumn, and couldn’t have asked for a better star in Dennis to bring this unbelievable true story to life.”
On a Wing and a Prayer stars Dennis Quaid as Doug White and Heather Graham as, presumably, Terry White. It starts shooting this fall. The film hits theaters on August 31, 2022.