In 1971, Bill Mann, a pilot who sought to make aerial combat his guiding star, is already lost whether he knows it or not. Although he's at the top of his Air Force class and married to a beautiful woman, his life is centered on drinking and partying--perhaps a way to escape a haunting memory. As a ten-year-old, Bill killed the two white men who beat his black mother to death.
In 1972, Mann is in Vietnam, flying his aircraft, The Cool Woman, in combat environs that have been called the most hazardous in air warfare history. He remains confident and considers himself "the envied of the envied" until the moment his beautiful wife says she wants a divorce, and the downward spiral of Mann's life and his survival odds begins.