Part way through the flight, dinner is served, with a choice between meat or fish. Both Baird and Spencer opt for the meat, a detail which proves important when, some time later, the stewardess asks if there's a doctor on board because one of the passengers is sick. Alarmingly, soon more people are falling ill, including the copilot. The only common factor seems to be that all of the sick had the fish for supper. When Baird reports his diagnosis of food poisoning to the pilot and stewardess, the captain reveals that he, too, ate the fish, but half an hour after his copilot. Baird gives him a purgative, hoping to head off the poison, but it's too late. He, too, is soon violently ill, lapsing into unconsciousness after putting the plane on autopilot.
Baird and the stewardess- Janet- desperately discuss what to do. They need to find out if anyone on board is a trained pilot, but don't want to panic the passengers. They decide to tell everyone that, since the first officer is ill, the pilot wants someone with flying experience to help with the radio. Baird recalls that while chatting with Spencer, his seatmate mentioned that he had flown fighter planes during the war. He tells Janet to ask Spencer first. Spencer comes forward, and is shocked to find that both pilots are incapacitated and that he's being asked to fly the plane. He tells Baird that he can't possibly; he hasn't piloted anything since the war ended ten years before. Even then, he only flew single engine fighters, while this plane has four engines, requiring a completely different skill set.
Janet returns from questioning all of the passengers still conscious, and none of them have any flying experience. Resigned, Spencer sits down at the controls and places a call to the Vancouver airport. The pilot had alerted Vancouver to the medical emergency, so they are standing by with ambulances and a medical team. They are aghast, however, to learn that both pilots are now out of commission. The controller- Burdick- asks if there's any way that at least one of them can be revived, but Dr Baird says he's not even sure he can keep them alive until they reach Vancouver.
Treleaven introduces himself to Spencer, and starts out by trying to reassure him. Spencer tells him not to bother: he knows the odds and doesn't want platitudes. He would rather just get down to business. Treleaven is fine with that, and gets Spencer to switch off the autopilot and take over the controls so that he can get a feel for the plane and its maneuverability. Spencer practices, getting Janet to assist him and man-or rather, woman- the radio. Dr Baird returns to the passengers to care for the sick and try to keep everyone else calm- mostly by lying to them about what's going on up front.