The Odyssey of Flight 33

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"The Odyssey of Flight 33"
The Twilight Zone episode
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 18
Directed by Justus Addiss
Written by Rod Serling
Featured music Stock
Production code 173-3651
Original air date February 24, 1961
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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List of season 2 episodes
List of Twilight Zone episodes

"The Odyssey of Flight 33" is episode 54 of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone. An unlikely break of the time barrier finds a commercial airliner sent back into the prehistoric age and then to New York City of 1939. The tale is a modern telling of the Flying Dutchman myth. It originally aired on February 24, 1961 on CBS.

Opening narration[edit]

You're riding on a jet airliner en route from London to New York. You're at 35,000 feet atop an overcast and roughly fifty-five minutes from Idlewild Airport. But what you've seen occur inside the cockpit of this plane is no reflection on the aircraft or the crew. It's a safe, well-engineered, perfectly designed machine. And the men you've just met are a trained, cool, highly efficient team. The problem is simply that the plane is going too fast, and there is nothing within the realm of knowledge or at least logic to explain it. Unbeknownst to passenger and crew, this airplane is heading into an uncharted region well off the beaten track of commercial travelers—it's moving into The Twilight Zone. What you're about to see we call "The Odyssey of Flight 33."


The episode takes place on Global Airlines Flight 33, en route from London to New York City. About 50 minutes from Idlewild Airport (now called JFK), Captain Farver and his crew notice that the speed of their Boeing 707 is increasing rapidly. A flash of light is seen, accompanied by severe turbulence. The crew is able to identify the coastline of Manhattan Island, the East River, Hudson River, Staten Island and other geographic landmarks, but see no signs of civilization. Unable to contact anyone on radio, the crew realizes that they have traveled far back in time when they look out the window and see no signs of civilization, only grazing dinosaurs.

Determining that their only hope of returning to the present day is to repeat the previous maneuver, and with dwindling fuel supply, the plane increases altitude in an attempt to catch the same freak jet stream and to return to 1961. At first, the maneuver appears to work; New York City is once again visible, and although they still cannot contact Idlewild, they are able to reach LaGuardia Airport, which the crew initially plans to use to refuel. However, the air traffic controller on the radio does not understand references to current aircraft technology such as VOR, ILS and jet aircraft. The controller eventually allows the aircraft to land but orders the captain to report to the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) office afterward; one of the officers remarks that they haven't called the Federal Aviation Agency by that name in years.

Soon, a crew member spots the buildings and structures from the 1939 New York World's Fair below — they have come forward in time, just not far enough. Because LaGuardia's runway is too short to handle a jet of Flight 33's size, the captain decides not to attempt a landing there and instead to make another attempt to return "home" to 1961, despite the fact that the plane is running critically low on fuel. "All I ask is that you remain calm", he informs the passengers over the P.A. system, "...and pray".

Closing narration[edit]

A Global jet airliner, en route from London to New York on an uneventful afternoon in the year 1961, but now reported overdue and missing, and by now, searched for on land, sea, and air by anguished human beings, fearful of what they'll find. But you and I know where she is. You and I know what's happened. So if some moment, any moment, you hear the sound of jet engines flying atop the overcast—engines that sound searching and lost—engines that sound desperate—shoot up a flare or do something. That would be Global 33 trying to get home—from The Twilight Zone.


Actor John Anderson starred as Captain Farver
  • John Anderson as Captain "Skipper" Farver
  • Paul Comi as First Officer Craig
  • Sandy Kenyon as Navigator "Magellan" Hatch
  • Harp McGuire as Flight Engineer Purcell
  • Beverly Brown as Janie
  • Wayne Heffley as 2nd Officer Wyatt
  • Betty Garde as Passenger
  • Jay Overholts as Passenger
  • Nancy Rennick as Paula
  • Lester Fletcher as RAF Man
  • Robert McCord as Passenger (uncredited)

Production notes[edit]

The Brontosaurus model and miniature jungle set from the 1960 film Dinosaurus! were used for the stop motion animation.

Graphic novel[edit]

This episode was one of several Twilight Zone stories adapted as a graphic novel. The adaptation expands upon the television episode, including a subplot involving several passengers and flight crew, as well as updating the story to occurring in 1973. It also adds a time jump to the future.[1]

Original idea[edit]

Serling originally developed the idea for the show when he learned that American Airlines had a mockup of a 707 interior, previously used for flight attendant training, that they would make available to TV or film production companies.[2]

Cockpit dialogue[edit]

Serling’s brother, aviation writer Robert J. Serling, helped Serling with the cockpit dialogue for the show by discussing the show’s premise with a Trans World Airlines captain; after the show aired, several pilots later wrote to say that they thought the cockpit dialogue was among the most authentic ever in a television show (albeit the situation described was impossible).[3]

There was one anachronism: LaGuardia Airport, although it had opened in October 1939 (and thus was open during the second half of the 1939–40 World's Fair held in New York), was not officially named after LaGuardia until 1947 and was officially named New York Municipal Airport prior to that point.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Dimensions Behind The Twilight Zone: A Backstage Tribute to Television's Groundbreaking Series by Stewart T. Stanyard, ECW Press, Toronto, 2007, p. 143
  3. ^ Dimensions Behind The Twilight Zone: A Backstage Tribute to Television's Groundbreaking Series by Stewart T. Stanyard, ECW Press, Toronto, 2007, p. 143
  • DeVoe, Bill. (2008). Trivia from The Twilight Zone. Albany, GA: Bear Manor Media. ISBN 978-1-59393-136-0
  • Grams, Martin. (2008). The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic. Churchville, MD: OTR Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9703310-9-0

External links[edit]