Unable to find steady work after WWI, three former flying aces -- Gibson (Richard Dix), Woody (Robert Armstrong) and Red (Joel McCrea) -- hire themselves out as stunt flyers for the movies. They find themselves employed by tyrannical director Von Furst (Erich Von Stroheim, playing what amounts to a self-caricature), who has no qualms about sending men to their deaths for the sake of "realism." Developing an esprit de corps with their fellow stunt pilots, our heroes regularly converge at the local watering hole to honor the latest casualties, wiping their names from a blackboard just as they'd done back in the Great War. When Von Furst, driven to insane jealousy by his much-abused wife Follette (Mary Astor), murders one of the pilots in cold blood, the others take a grim but thoroughly justifiable revenge. Boasting several first-rate aviation sequences, The Lost Squadron was scripted by real-life Hollywood stunt flyer Dick Grace (who also appears in the film); it was also the first RKO Radio production to carry the screen credit "executive producer, David O. Selznick."
by Hal Erickson synopsis