Less visceral than The Big X -- this still builds purely popular and mostly masculine entertainment on the still shaky business of keeping a plane up in the air and it is Searls' technical know-how which keeps the flight-time here convincing and urgent. Behind the throttle of a Navy jet is experienced Dale Heath, heading East to Jean whom he loves, leaving behind him his daughter, Anne, whom he also loves, and who is as much the victim as he is of Cheryl who had hooked him into marriage. On another commercial flight, Ed Benedict, a doctor, who has always believed his patients equal to the whole truth, is about to tell his wife that the operation she has just had revealed a fatal malignancy. At the Air Traffic Control board, the operative is anxious about his wife- about to have her first child. All these personal matters fill in the time which precedes the collision between the two planes due to circumstantial incalculables (Heath's radio isn't transmitting properly- his fuel is too low to maintain the altitude he should- etc.) -- And as Heath makes the deliberate, suicidal climb to save the other plane, the DC-7 gets down safely. . . . Not quite as smooth as Ernest Gann, but a younger touch, this is for that audience- and Literary Guild selection for April should help the take-off.