The fledgling (n. a young bird just acquiring the feathers for flight; hence, an immature person) is seventeen-year-old Rich Newman whose flight training is a literal metaphor for acquiring self-confidence. Bugged by an overprotective mother who's backed up by her overconcerned husband, Rich is first forbidden to take flying lessons, then forbidden to solo--until Air Show impresario and psychodelicate mentor Tommy Tomkins makes Dad an unwitting witness. Rich gets his license and parental approval; he's even asked Tommy's daughter Debby for a date when he flubs a landing in a new stunt plane and almost injures Tommy. The incident reminds him of the auto accident in which his older brother was killed, and he vows to stop flying. But Tommy has a heart attack on a cross-country flight and--according to pattern--Rich makes an unpracticed instrument landing like a veteran. From first to last the time in the air is well spent, the fictional groundwork wobbly--Rich's mother comes on as neurotic or worse so her sudden reversal seems rigged; he is a bundle of nerves without any ballast. The propellant: plane instruction with some fancy stunting and a contagious enthusiasm for flying.