After returning to the States, a Berlin Airlift crew crashes in an unexplored area of Brazil---there are two survivors. Only the president and a select few know the cause of the crash. On national security grounds, the information is classified and sealed for fifty years.
Synopsis:South of Cayenne begins in 1949 when Captain Robert 'Doc' Cairns, his copilot and navigator leave Base Operations and walk across a dark, deserted ramp toward a four-engine C-54 parked nearby. At the airplane, they are met by the engineer and radio operator that round out the five-man crew. This is the crew’s first mission since returning from the Berlin Airlift. Cairns is assigned to fly war surplus test stands from Kelly Air Force Base to Rio de Janeiro for delivery to the Brazilian Air Force.
The flight is routine until, off the coast of Brazil, an explosion rocks the aircraft. Cairns loses all power on the right side. Fuel and flames pour out of a large gash on top of the right wing---the fire spreads to the passenger cabin. In the black of night Cairns is forced to ditch. Burning fuel spreads over the sea and prevents the life raft from being deployed. Cairns is the last to leave and manages to toss the raft clear of the flames. Badly burned he climbs into the raft. By the light of burning fuel, he helps a crewmember into the raft. Together they pull the three remaining crewmembers into the raft only to discover they are dead. The life raft drifts aimlessly until they hear the sounds of breaking surf. They drag the raft ashore and encounter Stone Age aborigine tribesman who have never been exposed to civilization.
Air force search and rescue planes comb the area but no trace of the airplane or crew is found. Meanwhile, at the White House, Harry Truman learns that days before the Berlin Airlift ended, an East German agent placed a bomb in the C-54's fuel tank. Although the agent set the timer for sixty minutes the bomb failed to explode. The air force suspects the bomb detonated weeks later and brought down Cairns’ C-54. To keep the Russians from learning they downed one of our aircraft, President Truman classifies the information and seals the records for fifty years.
After spending a year in the jungle with aborigines, the pilot and engineer reach Cayenne, French Guiana. Neither crewmember is privy to the classified information and has no idea what caused the explosion. Through the years, the engineer blames the death of his crewmembers on something he did or didn’t do that he should have. After living with guilt for forty-five years, he finally sets out to uncover the truth.