The Flight of the Phoenix is a 1964 novel by Elleston Trevor. The plot involves the crash of a transport aircraft in the middle of a desert and the survivors' desperate attempt to save themselves. It was the basis for the 1965 film The Flight of the Phoenix and the 2004 remake entitled Flight of the Phoenix.
Elleston Trevor (born Trevor-Dudley Smith) (1920-1995) published more than 100 books during his prolific career of more than 50 years. His resume included thrillers, mysteries, plays, short stories and juvenile novels. The Flight of the Phoenix came at the mid-point of his career and led to a bidding war over its film rights. 
Pilot Frank Towns and navigator Lew Moran are ferrying a mixed bag of passengers out of the Jebel oil town of the Libyan desert, among them oil workers, a couple of British soldiers, and a German who was visiting his brother. An unexpected sandstorm forces the aircraft down, damaging the plane, killing two of the men, and severely injuring the German. In the book, the action takes place in the Libyan part of the Sahara.
The survivors wait for rescue but begin to worry, as the storm has blown them far off course, away from where searchers would look for them. After several days, Captain Harris marches toward a distant oasis together with another passenger. His aide Sergeant Watson feigns a sprained ankle and does not join Harris. A third man follows after them. Days later, Harris barely manages to return to the crash site. The others are lost.
As the water begins to run out Stringer, a precise, arrogant English aeronautical engineer, proposes a radical solution. He claims they can rebuild a new aircraft from the wreckage of the old twin-boom aircraft, using the undamaged boom and adding skids to take off. They set to work.
At one point they spot a party of nomadic tribesmen, possibly Arabs. Captain Harris decides to ask them for help, but Sergeant Watson refuses to accompany him. Instead another survivor, a Texan named Loomis, goes with him. The next day, Towns finds their looted bodies, throats cut, and the nomads gone.
Later, Towns finds out that Stringer's job is designing model aircraft, not real, full-scale ones. Afraid of the effect on morale, he and Moran keep their discovery secret, though they now believe Stringer's plan is doomed. However, they turn out to be wrong. The aircraft is reborn, like the mythical Phoenix. It flies the passengers, strapped to the outside of the fuselage, to an oasis and civilization.
The 1977 film Airport '77 (also starring James Stewart,) borrows somewhat from Flight of the Phoenix, although instead of crashing in a desert, the movie presents a crash-landing of a Boeing 747 into the Bermuda Triangle.