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While making a stop in Jakarta on their way to a scientific conference in Sydney; Tintin, Haddock and Calculus happen to run into the former two's friend Piotr Skut, the Estonian pilot from The Red Sea Sharks. He is currently the personal pilot of eccentric aircraft tycoon Lazlo Carreidas, the "the man who never laughs", whom he introduces to the rest. After Calculus inadvertently makes Carreidas laugh, the latter insists on giving them a lift to Sydney on his private jet, which they accept.
Unfortunately for all involved, the plane ends up being hijacked by the jet's crew (all of whom were substitutes for the regular crew who were all involved in "accidents") and Carreidas' assistant Spalding. They land on an abandoned volcanic island in the South Pacific and are held at gunpoint by armed gunmen who, to Tintin's horror, apparently kill Snowy. They are greeted by none other than Tintin's nemesis Rastapopoulos and his Dragon Allan. Having lost most of his fortune in his previous scheme, Rastapopoulos plans on stealing the money in Carreidas' Swiss Bank Account. To do this he hired the services of Dr. Krollspell, who has developed an experimental Truth Serum. Rastapopoulos and Krollspell take Carreidas away while the rest are held prisoner in a bunker. Eventually they escape with the help of Snowy, who turns out to be alive.
Alas, Krollspell's serum doesn't work as advertised. Instead of answering Rastapopoulos questions about the bank account, Carreidas instead starts rattling off every misdeed he did in his life. Rastapopoulos tries to hit Krollspell only to jab himself with the needle, causing him and Carreidas to bicker about who is the most evil. Rastapopoulos, Krollspell and the uncooperative Carreidas are found, Bound and Gagged by Tintin and the others who attempt to leave. However, they are intercepted by Allan, after which Rastapopoulos escapes and orders Allan and his Mooks to find them while Krollspell, knowing that Rastapopoulos planned on double crossing him thanks to the serum follows Tintin's group. Then things get weird...
Tintin suddenly starts hearing a "voice" directing them to a secret entrance ancient temple to evade their captors. There, they find a strange man named Mik Kanrokitoff, a writer for a space magazine. Apparently the island was visited in the past by Ancient Astronauts worshipped as gods by the natives. Mik himself possesses a device that allows him to communicate telepathically and mantains contact with the aforementioned race. While discussing this, Rastapopoulos' men set off explosives hoping to breach the temple which causes the volcano to awaken. Tintin and his friends are rescued by an honest-to-god Flying Saucer. They are then hypnotized into forgetting everything that happened. Meanwhile Rastapopoulos and his men try their luck by leaving the island via dinghy. However, they are also picked up by the Saucer with their fate unknown.
Tintin's group (apart from Krollspell who was found in Cairo equally amnesic) then gives an interview claiming they don't remember a thing (apart from Snowy who, of course, cannot talk). Calculus however, shows a mysterious item he found in his pocket (which he had picked up inside the volcano) and claims that according to material analysis is made of a material not found on Earth.
The story ends with Tintin, Haddock, and Calculus boarding a flight to the Sydney conference.
- Ancient Astronauts
- Fashion Victim Villain: Rastapopoulos spends the entire book inexplicably wearing a ridiculous pink shirted cowboy outfit.
- Non-Indicative Name: The book is named after a flight which the protagonists didn't take.
- That Poor Plant: Haddock dumps Carreidas' "chlorophyll fortified" soft drink in a plant pot. The plant dies instantly.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Due to this being the penultimate book, we never find out what became of Rastapopoulos and his men after they were taken away by the saucer.
- Villain Decay: Infamously done to Rastapopoulos who spends the entire book in the aforementioned ridiculous clothes and on the receiving end of slapstick comedy. Hergé claims the latter naturally followed the former: he just couldn't take him seriously after putting him in that outfit.