Dedicated to the brave firefighters around the world who risk their lives to save those of others. Wings Around the Globe champion Dusty Crophopper is seen winning races across the world, giving autographs to fans, and wowing audiences around the world by showing off his flawless flying. Back in Dusty's hometown of Propwash Junction, the entire town is getting ready for the annual Corn Fest, which Dusty will be racing in. While talking to other vehicles about the upcoming festival, including his faithful fuel truck friend Chug, and the towns only fire engine Mayday, Dusty's friend and flying coach Skipper invites Dusty to go fly, which he happily agrees. The two depart the runway and begin flying over the town and following country side. Dusty practices aerobatic maneuvers and high speed passes over the ground. While in a steep climb, Dusty begins to experience an engine failure. As he panics and stalls, Skipper rushes in to help.
Dusty recovers, but continues to struggle with a damaged engine. The two make an uneventful landing and proceed to Dusty's mechanic, Dottie. While in the hanger, Dusty denies doing anything to possibly damage himself. Dottie expresses her frustration with Dusty's racing habits, and begins to lecture him, even though he appears to be ignoring her. Dottie's expression suddenly turns to a look of horror as she discovers that a critical component of his engine is failing. She explains to Dusty that he needs a gearbox replacement, which has been out of production for sometime and she is unable to fabricate a new one.
Dottie explains that Dusty cannot use more than 80% of his engines power, which leaves him unable to race ever again. Later that night at the local bar, Dusty and Skipper cope with the bad news over a can of oil. Chug arrives and offers good news. They contacted a several repair shops in the area and are going to look for any replacement gearbox in storage. They all celebrate the news as Dusty's old boss Leadbottom arrives. After hearing the news of Dusty not racing again, he offers his old job back.
Dusty's friends stand by Dusty's dreams and say that he isn't a crop duster anymore, but when they look they realize he slipped out quietly. Dusty is seen flying over the town at high speeds, pushing his engine to the limits. As he approaches red line, he gets a warning light (recently installed by Dottie to warn if his engine is over 80%) and backs off the throttle. Distracted, he clips a power wire and spins wildly. He attempts to recover and careens down the runway crashing into a hanger. As the local residents wake up to the commotion, a small fire has started with leaking fuel. Mayday, who is a rather dilapidated fire engine, awakes to the alarm and races to the scene.
As Mayday begins to attack the fire, his decaying hose begins to leak and he runs out of water. As the fire rages, Mayday, Dusty, Chug and Skipper pull down the water tower, causing it to spill water and extinguish the flames. The next day Transportation Management Safety Team or TMST specialist Ryker (a spin off of the real world National Transportation Safety Board or NTSB) interviews Mayday. Expressing extreme disdain to the airports emergency capabilities and outdated firefighting equipment, Propwash Junction is shut down until they find another firefighter to staff the airport and Mayday is upgraded.
The residents are outraged, as the towns Corn Fest is coming up quickly. Dusty meets Mayday at the fire house and while looking at his ego wall of awards, notices a photo of him alongside an aerial firefighting plane, which peaks Dusty's interest. Duty agrees to become a firefighter to help reopen Propwash Junction. The next day Chug, Mayday, Dottie and Skipper meet outside of town (with the airport shut down) as Dusty prepares to depart to Piston Peak National Park, home of the Air Attack team. Mayday gives instructions to meet up with Chief Blade Ranger, who Mayday has arranged to train and certify Dusty. He departs on section of highway and makes his way to the park, passing motorist and other aircraft on the way to the park, which just happens to be having a grand re-opening of a new park lodge (cleverly named The Fuselage).
Dusty finally makes his way to the air attack base station. Upon landing, he finds several aircraft and vehicles at the base, including a few all terrain vehicles jumping off a dirt ramp, narrowly avoiding hitting Dusty. Leading the group is Dynamite, who welcomes Dusty to the base, introducing her team of Smoke Jumpers to him. Dusty introduces himself, catching the attention of Dipper, an outgoing Bombardier CL-415 SuperScooper, who is an avid air racing fan with a crush on Dusty. She races over and introduces herself and begins flirting with Dusty, who is obviously uncomfortable.
Windlifter, a Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane (heavy duty helicopter) shows off his Native American spirit with tales of folklore, even hinting to detecting forest fires before they are detected, foreshadows a fire. Almost immediately, the alarm sounds for a wildfire. The Smoke Jumpers get ready, as Maru, an old tug who's the local mechanic, begins to fill the planes w/ water. The Smoke Jumpers put on their parachutes and load up into Cabbie (shown as a Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar). As the team departs, Dusty becomes curious and follows the team to the reported fire. The team arrives the forest fire, while Dusty stays a bit further back to stay out of the way. Dusty spots Blade Ranger fly through the smoke (shown as a Agusta Westland AW139). Blade Ranger drops his load of fire retardant and issues orders to his team on where to place the retardant.
The Smoke Jumpers deploy out of Cabbie, into a field not too far away from the fire. While the aircraft continue to drop the retardant, the Smoke Jumpers use their powerful tools and begin to clear trees and debris to prevent the fire from spreading. From above, Blade Ranger see's a tractor stuck and surrounded by flames. Using his winch and hook, he safely rescues the tractor and moves him to safety. Dusty, amazed by what's happening, accidentally cuts off Blade Ranger. As Dusty attempts to fly away, he accidentally flies into the fire retardant, staining him bright red.
Back at the air attack base, Maru washes down Dusty and returns to work, preparing a new batch of retardant for the next fire. Blade Ranger scorns Dusty for flying too close, and orders him back to the lodge. Dusty protests, saying he's the new recruit (Single Engine Air Tanker, or SEAT). Blade appears annoyed, and unimpressed with Dusty's world championship. Blade orders Maru to replace Dusty's landing gear with pontoons. Dusty is impressed with the new look, and after struggling on land, he realizes to deploy the wheels, which make it much easier to move around. As Dusty gets used to his new set of wheels, he notices a wall of fame, and asks how to get on the wall. Maru explains it's a memorial wall, dedicated to all of the fallen firefighters who crashed.
Dusty looks at the lost planes while Maru explains how firefighting is dangerous and how it takes a special plane to do what Dusty is doing. Dusty and Blade Ranger begin training by flying low in a canyon, which Dusty accepts in a cocky manor. Blade makes a remark that overconfidence is behavior that can kill, as Dusty begins the course set by Blade. Dusty navigates the canyon walls with ease, and approaches a bridge with a steep climb to clear a waterfall. As Dusty begins to approach the bridge, he begins to push his throttle, and his throttle alarm begins to sound.
Realizing he's going too slow and can't add power, he aborts the maneuver, much to Blade's disappointment. They move to the lake to practice filling up the water tank from the lake (using the pontoon floats to scoop water), which Dusty bounces down the lake, narrowly avoiding hitting trees. The two continue training in the classroom, which Blade explains that aircraft are prohibited flying 30 minutes after sunset, in fear of crashing while flying low. Blade sets a few barrels on fire on the runway, while Dusty makes a few passes in attempt to extinguish the flames, failing all passes. The next day, the two are back at the canyon, approaching the bridge.
Blade orders Dusty to go to maximum power to clear the steep climb. Dusty's alarm sounds and he aborts the maneuver again. Blade, annoyed, explains that he won't certify Dusty until he can clear the bridge. As they are flying back, Dusty spots a small fire straight ahead. He eagerly flies and drops the fire retardant, only to realize he accidentally dropped his load on a couple of RV's enjoying a campfire. Blade sarcastically congratulates him from "saving them from a nice vacation". Back at the base, Skipper radios Dusty with good news, explaining that they found a replacement gearbox from an old friend, and it's on the way to Propwash Junction.
Dusty becomes elated with joy and can't wait to return home. Mayday and Dottie are also on the line, explaining that they are upgrading Mayday to current firefighting standards. The park Superintendent Cad Spinner arrives at the base, which Dusty signs off the radio and proceeds outside to meet with him. Cad (portrayed as a Cadillac) is a self centered individual focused on profits, and clearly not a fan of the firefighters (per Dipper, he cut the budget so much they can't afford new parts, leaving Maru makes them from scratch). Cad arrives and begins to argue with Blade. Cad begins to lecture Blade about soaking the campers from Dusty's mishap from earlier, but blows him off when he spots Dusty.
He rushes over and greets him. Focused on the party at the lodge, he invites him to come to the party and preform a high speed fly by. Blade and Cad begin to argue again, saying that the park is at capacity and the risk of fire is too great with all of the campers. As Cad leaves, he says that Dusty is more famous than Blazzin' Blade. Dusty asks who Blazzin' Blade is, Windlifter explains to come to the main hanger tonight and they will explain.
Later that night, Dusty arrives at the hanger, and finds everybody inside (minus Blade). As they greet Dusty and gather around, Dipper pulls Dusty aside and explains how she is excited about her 'first date' with Dusty. The team gathers around as Maru pulls out a VCR and they begin to watch California Helicopter Patrol or CHoPs (spin off of the real world CHiPs, the tale of two California Highway Patrol motorcycle officers). Dusty realizes that Blade is one of the actors, along with Nick Loopin' Lopez, Blades partner. Blade's catchphrase is 'Good Move, Partner!' During the episode the two officers arrest crooks, rescue trapped vehicles from a fire, and even score a double date with two cars.
After the episode is over, Dusty asks the burning question of why Blade left the show and came to Piston Peak, which nobody gives a solid answer because nobody knows, and nobody want's to know. Dusty looks out the window and sees Blade sitting on the ledge, looking out to the forest as a lightning storm comes through. The next morning, the team is dispatched to several small fires, after lightning strikes from the prior night. However, the winds pickup in the morning, merging all of the fires into one large one. As the team is preparing, Blade orders Dusty to stay behind. Dipper and Dusty protest, however it's after Windlifter states they 'need every plane they got', Blade orders Maru to load Dusty.
As Dusty is being filled w/ retardant, Maru snaps a photo. Dusty asks why he took the photo, which he casually explains it's for 'The Wall. ' The Smoke Jumpers are on the ground, working hard to clear a path to stop the spread of fire. From above Blade is assigning orders to the team, while Dusty improperly deploys his load, making it useless for the fire. Back on the ground, Dynamite notices the winds have shifted again and the fire has blown past the fire line. She orders her team to evacuate as they make their way to a safe area. A large tree on fire has fallen across their trail, blocking their path.
As they radio Blade for help, Dusty moves in and deploys the rest of his retardant on the tree, stopping the flames. The Smoke Jumpers are able to move the tree and escape safely. The team eventually stops the spread of fire, and return to base. Dipper congratulates Dusty for his first fire, while Blade explains what he did was dangerous and violated a direct order. A jet passes low over the air base, heading towards the lodge. Dusty remembers the party at the lodge and suggest the entire crew goes, much to Dippers disappointment who wanted to go on a second date with Dusty alone. Dusty, Maru, Dipper and Windlifter arrive at The Fuselage.
With beautiful decorations and several guests milling about, the team make their way inside. A train has just arrived at the lodge, on board is the US. Secretary of the Interior, who Cad greets and begins to schmooze. The Secretary immediately asks about a possible forest fire, which Cad stalls and pretends he doesn't know anything about it. Engine Pulaski, the only structural fire engine hired to protect the lodge to make Blade happy, arrives and explains everything is under control, which Cad suddenly agrees and shoos away Pulaski. The Secretary and Cad continue talking, asking about the parks wildlife, to which Cad deflects with a joke referencing the campers as 'party animals'. A park ranger known as Ol' Jammer arrives and begins to talk about the park to the Secretary. Cad calls Ol' Jammer a bumper kisser as the two begin to talk about the park.
Meanwhile Dusty and Dipper are enjoying the party when fans rushes up to Dusty and snaps photos, one even including to do his voice mail. Cad rushes by and steals Dusty to meet the Secretary, but is distracted by another famous actor Boat Reynolds (spin off of Burt Reynolds) Dusty begins to help two RVs, Harvey and Winnie, on their 50th wedding anniversary. Dusty names the canyon where Harvey and Winnie had their first kiss, and agrees to share a can of oil with them in honor of their anniversary. Outside around the camp fire, Harvey, Winnie, Dusty, Maru, Dipper and Windlifter share stories. Dipper explains that firefighting is a second career for the entire team. Windlifter was a lumberjack (it's also noted when Dusty first arrived to the air attack base, he was working out lifting a dozen tree logs), Cabbie was a military transport plane, and Dipper was a cargo plane in Alaska. Windlifter shares a story, with Native American tradition, about a rather cryptic story of a car eating his own tires, to which the team drink to his toast. The next morning Skipper radios Dusty at the air base.
Dusty eagerly asks about the gearbox. Much to everybody's disappointment, the box was accidentally mislabeled, containing the wrong part. The team at home is unable to find a spare gearbox and have abandoned their search. As Dusty signs off, the alarm sounds for another fire.
Maru opens his hanger and explains that a jet flew too low last night and threw embers around and restarted the fire. The team departs and heads towards the fires (which has split into two groups). Dusty and Blade break off and head to one fire. Blade realized that the fire is getting close to the lodge, and estimates they have 4 hours to evacuate the lodge. Maru radios Cad, who absolutely refuses to perform the evacuation, saying he's worked too hard on the lodge just for 'safety sake'. Maru, becoming frustrated when Cad asks to speak with Blade, saying that Blade is working at the fire he's warning him about. Back in the air, Blade begins issuing orders while Dusty, still in shock about never having a working gearbox again, begins to zone out. Blade yells at Dusty when he doesn't listen and improperly dumps his load.
With orders to return to the base, Dusty refuses and proceeds to the lake, which has a crosswind making it too dangerous to reload with water. Dusty hits the water and crashes. Still afloat thanks to the pontoons, he has water in his engine, and struggles to restart. Dusty approaches white water rapids and begins to float downstream, unable to take off. Blade begins to deploy his winch to pull Dusty to shore, but misses the first time. With too many trees to safely reach Dusty, Blade moves further downstream to rescue him. As Dusty arrives in the clearing, Blades winch get's snagged on a tree branch. Stuck, Blade orders Dusty to start his engine and fly off before he makes it to the waterfall.
As his engine struggles back to life, Dusty begins to apply power with Blade ordering maximum power. With not enough power, Dusty begins to fall off the face of the waterfall. Blade's winch suddenly catches Dusty and prevents him from falling to the rocks below. Blade drops him off in a small clearing and hovers next to him. After asking what happened, Blade notices the fire is growing closer. He orders Dusty to head down a path and follow him to an abandoned mine shift. Dusty protests, saying they will be killed with the smoke and lack of oxygen. He begins to leave as Blade stops him, saying he can't outrun the fire.
They begin to argue, with Dusty saying he didn't want to push his engine. Blade begins to ridicule Dusty, saying he doesn't have what it takes to be a firefighter. In a rage of fury, Dusty states he never wanted to become a firefighter. Blade mocks Dusty, saying he should go back to racing and win another trophy. Dusty states he can't because of his damaged gearbox, which is why he pulled power.
Blade offers advise about how life never goes the way expected, but Dusty's job is to become a firefighter, and if he gives up today, he'll never saves lives tomorrow. With the flames approaching and Dusty's new found courage, the two retreat to the cave, just in time as the inferno rages across where they just were seconds ago. As debris falls down, fire rages inside the mine shaft towards the two, but Blase places himself in front of Dusty, taking the heat and melting the paint on his skin. The fire rages on as smoke fills the cave. Back at the lodge, Cad is about to unveil a statue, with Pulaski arguing with the concierge in the background ordering the need to evacuate.
Cad quickly rushes over and hushes Pulaski before he scares any more tourists. As soon as Cad unveils the statue, the crowd screams. in horror, as the fire is over the ridge and making its way towards the lodge. Immediately the tourists begin to evacuate, as Cad tries to convince people to stay. Pulaski is at the runway issuing orders to departing planes, while the Secretary and Ol' Jammer are helping cars. The train is also full of tourists and begins to depart the station. Back in the mine shaft, Blade and Dusty exit the cave to a scorched earth.
As Blade gives orders to depart, Dusty looks and sees that Blade has serious burns from protecting him. Dusty departs with ease, while Blades engine begins to fail and he crashes back to the ground. Dusty radios to base that Blase has crashed. Windlifter brings Blade back to base, while Maru frantically begins to save Blade. Later that night Maru states he's done all he can to Blade, and that he needs to rest to fly again, but he's not sure when.
Maru states that Blade has never left anybody behind, not since Nick. The two go into the main hanger while he clears some boxes from the wall, revealing a photo of Nick Loopin' Lopez. Maru explained that while filming, Nick accidentally crashed, with Blade being the first on scene. Blade, being only an actor at the time, didn't know what to do. Lost without his best friend, Blade got trained and certified 'to save lives for real. ' Back at the lodge, the fire is growing closer to the lodge.
Cad orders the concierge to reroute the water supply to the lodge roof sprinklers The concierge explains that the firefighters need the water, however Cad clearly doesn't care and switches the valve himself, protecting the lodge with the built in sprinkler system. At the evacuation route, the Secretary and Ol' Jammer are assisting the motorist evacuation, with Engine Pulaski spraying water to keep the flames back. A sudden wind shift blows the fire across the road and train tracks, blocking the exit. Pulaski moves forward and begins spraying water. A tree on fire suddenly falls towards the cars, with Pulaski moving between it and the Secretary.
However, he takes heavy damage and can no longer pump water on the fire. The same time, the train arrives and slams on the brakes, just before the flaming logs on the rail tracks. With no other way out of the park, the crew is trapped. Back at the air base, dispatch receives the call of the trapped tourists. With Blade still recovering from his injuries, Windlifter is in command.
Even though it's well after sunset, Dusty convinces that they 'need every plane they got. ' They get the go ahead and hook up to the water hoses. Maru discovered that there is no water pressure, blaming that the line probably burst again. Latest weather report shows that the lake is covered with smoke, making it unsafe to reload water with. With only what they have in their tanks, the team makes their way out to the raging fire. Due to the extended time it would take to fly around the fire, the team decided to fly through the smoke to get to the road. After a few tense moments, the entire crew emerges from the smoke unscathed. The Smoke Jumpers deploy as the aircraft drop whats left of their retardant, successfully extinguishing all flames.
The Smoke Jumpers begin to clear a path as both cars and the train are able to safely escape. Windlifter receives another frantic call, that two RVs are trapped on a wooden bridge. Dusty realizes that the trapped RVs are Harvey and Winnie. Windlifter says they don't have enough time to make it there, but Dusty can fly faster than him, and offers to go and resupply on water from the river. After a long pause Windlifter agrees and tells him to 'be safe. ' Dusty speeds away and gives his engine all he can without tripping the alarm. He approaches the canyon, only to be found it completely engulfed in flames.
Harvey and Winnie are both trapped in the middle of the bridge, calling for help. Dusty attempts to fly along the river to collect water, but logs and debris make it difficult to get low enough. Parts of the bridge begins to fail as Winnie slides close to the ledge. Dusty continues to struggle to get low enough to collect water, as flaming logs and debris continue to rain from the sky.
Suddenly Blade appears from the smoke, deploys his winch and grabs Winnie as she barely hangs on the ledge. Dusty increases his power, flies under the bridge and goes into a vertical climb parallel to the waterfall, starting to collect water. He pushes the engine to maximum power, with the warning alarm blaring. He approaches the end of the waterfall with the engine gauges deep in the red. As he clears the waterfall, Dusty begins a slow loop and sprays down the entire bridge, cooling it to hold the flames back. With a final tug from Blade, Harvey and Winnie are pulled back onto the bridge and race off to safety, just as the rest of the bridge collapses. Dusty circles around when Blade says his catchphrase 'Good move, partner. ' Dusty's engine immediately seizes and fails, as he begins to drop out of the sky.
Warning lights and alarms are blaring as he crashes into the trees and blacks out. Blade and Windlifter are seen racing back to the air base, with a crashed Dusty in tow. The entire team is watching as he is gently lowered on the ground and placed in Maru's garage. A time lapse shows him working non stop for 5 days, with Dipper by Dusty's side the entire time. He finally awakens as Maru calls the crew over.
The 'Mud dropper' crew greets him, along with Engine Pulaski and the new Superintendent Ol' Jammer, with Cad being fired by the Secretary after stealing water to save the lodge. Maru tells Dusty that he repaired and replaced everything he could. When he got to the gearbox, Dusty cut him off, saying he already knows, and thanks him for trying. Maru grows a grin and explains that he fixed it, saying it was the hardest thing he's ever done. Dusty, shocked with the fact that he got a new gearbox, Maru frowns and says his usual catchphrase that it's 'Better than new!' Blade agrees to certify Dusty and congratulates him on becoming a firefighter.
Back at Propwash Junction, Ryker officially reopens the airport, just in time for the Corn Fest. The entire town cheers and prepares for the festival. Mayday pulls Dusty aside and offers a sincere thank you for what Dusty did, saying it takes a special plane to do what he did for the town and Mayday. At the Corn Fest, the Smoke Jumpers preform an aerobatic dive, as the new Piston Peak Air Attack Firefighters preform a flyby, dropping water. The Smoke Jumpers land on half pipes and ramps, preforming tricks alongside each other. Dusty is seen coming around, pushing his engine deep into the red with his 'better than new engine'. The entire air attack flies by one more time, with Dusty dropping water as the camera cuts to black..