The BAU is called in to investigate the crash of Transatlantic Flight 420, which killed 151 passengers.
Their only clues are as follows:
- The plane was off course by 150 miles
- Air traffic controllers had lost communication with the plane 13 minutes before the crash.
- 10 minutes after losing communication, the data system shut down or was turned off.
- Someone on the ground thought he saw a white streak of light go from the ground to the plane before it fell out of the sky.
- Reid found evidence that some of the passengers had thrown up prior to the crash.
- The black box shows that there was an argument between the pilot and co-pilot prior to the crash.
Hotch and Commander Reardon interview the supposed witness of the missile strike, only to discover that he's somewhat of a conspiracy nut. They can't rule out his contention that a rogue military type has been roaming the area, and may have sent up a surface to air missile.
The BAU investigates a dishonorably discharged Army missile operator, but quickly realize he doesn't have the intelligence or motivation to have shot down the plane.
After discovering that the only explanation for passengers throwing up would be because of turbulence, the team explores how that might happen. Turbulence usually only occurs during bad weather or because it's the plane is in a crosswind from another plane. The sky was clear the day of the crash, and there were no other flights in the vicinity.
Reid explains how having the wing slats activated would not only cause the up and down turbulence motion, but would impair the integrity of the plane's fuselage, eventually causing it to break apart.
The only problem with his theory is that someone would actively have to make the slats move - and that's usually only done by the pilot or co-pilot. Since neither did so, the only other explanation is that someone was controlling the plane remotely.
The BAU sets up a profile of an Unsub who would do such a thing: he would have a god complex, intent on causing multiple casualties.
Garcia discovers that someone had sent a weird text to one of the flight passengers three days prior to the crash. It read "I am become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds." She goes on to relate how the woman had suffered a horrific blind date with someone named Hayman Vasher eight years ago.
Garcia digs deeper into Vasher's history and realizes that he's somewhat of a genius aerospace engineer, a social outcast and an anarchist who is heavily obsessed with J. Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb.
The BAU realizes that Vasher likely crashed the plane as a test run before his real mission, which was to crash another plane into a crowded area. Because of that, they request that the President issue an order to ground all planes.
All of the planes heed the call except for one - Flight IA61 - whose communications are down.
The team realizes that the Unsub likely has control of the plane, and so the President orders two F16 to scramble and get ready to shoot it down before it crashes into any crowded areas.
They realize that the plane is heading toward a crowded football stadium.
Garcia is able to track the location of a phone which had called the lone survivor of the original plane crash. She sends the location to Morgan, Hotch and Kate
The three of them storms the Unsub's cabin, only to see him holding the remote control for the plane. He threatens to cause it to crash unless they call off the F16s. He promises to make the plane land safely once that's done.
Hotch has the F16s called off. When he sees that Vasher is going to crash the plane anyway, he shoots him in the head.
The plane makes a successful emergency landing.