Aboard a commercial airliner, U.S. Marshal Pete Nessip (Wesley Snipes) and his brother Terry (Malcolm Jamal-Warner), a fellow marshal, are escorting prison inmate Earl Leedy (Michael Jeter), who is a computer wizard, to a high-security prison.
When an apparent terrorist hijack attempt blows a hole in the airplane, Terry is sucked out to his death, and the terrorists parachute out of the same hole, taking Leedy with them. A devastated Pete is blamed for overreacting to the incident, and he is forced to turn in his badge.
Pete believes that the assault may have been an elaborate prison break meant to free Leedy. But the force refuses to listen saying that the chances of sneaking a parachute through airport security and parachuting at 30,000 are impossible. Renegade skydiver and former DEA agent Ty Moncrief (Gary Busey) is the mastermind behind the attack, which culminated in the first-ever parachute jump from a commercial jet at 30,000 feet. Ty plans to use Leedy to hack into the DEA mainframe computer in Washington DC so Ty can auction off the names of undercover agents to drug cartels worldwide.
Ty has scheduled this to be accomplished during an Independence Day parachute exhibition and fireworks display, which is the one day every year when security is loosened around the airspace above Washington DC. Because skydiving played a part in the airplane hijacking, Pete finds his way to Jessie Crossman (Yancy Butler), a world-class skydiver and ex-con, whose ex-husband Jagger, unknown to all, is part of Ty's crew. Jessie agrees to train Pete how to skydive, if he will sponsor her team for the parachute exhibition.
When Jessie's parachuting friend Selkirk (Corin Nemec) is severely injured after using a faulty parachute that Ty had intended for Jessie to use, Pete is appointed to take Selkirk's place. When Jagger is found dead, tangled in some high-voltage power lines, it is obvious that his death was a murder engineered by Ty, and with Pete's help, Jessie now is seeking revenge on Ty, when Pete discovers Ty's plan to hack into the DEA mainframe the rest of the paracuting team agrees to help with the situation . On the night of the Independence Day exhibition, she sneaks into Ty's parachuting plane, holding them at gunpoint in order to determine an explanation for Jagger's death. but Ty's men kick her outside and then parachute out, Jessie now managing to grab hold of the plane door bar lets go on a free fall just as Pete and the parachuting team arrive and rescues her, floating down safety to the roof of the DEA mainframe office where TY has already arrived.
Pete tries to find access to the DEA mainframe control room, eliminating Ty's men one by one. He breaks in and holds Leedy who has already starting the downloads, as hostage. But Ty appears who has kidnapped Jessie threatening to kill her unless Pete releases Leedy. A fight breaks out between Pete and Ty until both of them go falling out the office window. Luckily, Pete opens his emergency parachute as Ty tumbles to his death. Pete lands safely on the ground and is escorted away by paramedics, but spots Leedy wearing a DEA jacket leaving the scene, until one of the team members, Swoop, leaps from the building parachuting down onto Leedy. Pete tells Jessie that in a few years he will try jumping again.