Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1930 -- two legendary French aviation pioneers Jean Mermoz (VAL KILMER) and Antoine de St. Exupery (TOM HULCE), head the Compagnie Générale Aéropostale, the first ever to fly mail between South American cities and France. Mermoz, a daredevil pilot, is a charismatic, astonishingly handsome, French cultural icon -- the future hero of the Atlantic South. St. Exupery, witty, eccentric, intellectual, is a famous writer who will later gain even greater fame as the author of the literary classic, Le Petit Prince. Having heard of Henri Guillaumet's (CRAIG SHEFFER) flying exploits and needing another young pilot to cover the Santiago de Chile/Buenos Aires route, the two famous airmen recruit Henri to fly for them. The night before Henri's first mail delivery, Mermoz tells him that the route he will be flying is a treacherous run across the Andes Cordillera range, where the mountains peak at 21,000 feet. Bashed by the storm, the plane plummets, and Henri is forced to crash-land on a frozen mountain lake, lost in the Andes, miles from civilization.