One Sunday afternoon in August 1966 in the rural countryside of Western New York, Alan and Jamie Saggett, ages 14 and 10, are playing catch in the open field next to their home when a small airplane skims over the treetops and crash lands nearly on top of them. The pilot, 16-yr-old Jeannie Mays, is on a mission to fly the experimental home built plane from her home in Oswego, NY, where she lives with her mother, to her father in Wisconsin, without her mother's knowledge or consent.
The brothers enthusiastically agree to help Jeannie repair the plane, much to the dismay of their mother, Louise Saggett, who nonetheless takes Jeannie in as a houseguest. Over the next week, the boys are swept into her adventure, enlisting the aid of an eccentric hermit blacksmith, Old Man Marzel.
The boys soon find themselves helping Jeannie evade the authorities, elude her mother, and confront a gang of local bullies. Along the way they discover it's smarter not to use a hornets' nest for target practice, and they learn that girls can not only be interested in the same things as boys, but can be more knowledgeable about them.
When the town bully, who carries a grudge against Alan, learns about Jeannie's plane, he and his gang set out to sabotage her plans by stealing a key component. The boys and Jeannie track down and confront the bullies in a tense showdown by their hideout in the woods, saving the precious item from destruction in a blazing bonfire.
By Friday the airplane is repaired and Jeannie's mother is on her way, but a summer rainstorm moves in, and it's a race against time to see whether her mother will arrive to stop her before the rainstorm clears or Jeannie will get away to complete her journey.
Maiden Flight is a summer adventure in which the young heroes experience something outside their everyday lives, learn that actions have consequences, and gain appreciation for their own families.