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 byJustus Addiss
Written byRod Serling
Featured musicStock
Production code173-3651
Original air dateFebruary 24, 1961
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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The Twilight Zone (1959 TV series) (season 2)
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"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]


The episode takes place on Global Airlines Flight 33, en route from London to New York City. About 50 minutes from Idlewild (now Kennedy) Airport, Captain Farver and his crew notice that the ground speed of their Boeing 707 is rapidly increasing beyond all reason. Their true air speed remains constant, so there is no risk of the plane breaking up. They can no longer contact anyone by radio. Even one of the passengers seems to sense the increase in speed.

A flash of light is seen, accompanied by severe turbulence, although the captain thinks it might be something else. There is no apparent damage to the aircraft. Still unable to contact anyone on the ground, and at the risk of potential collision with other aircraft, Farver finally decides to descend below the clouds: the crew is able to identify the coastline of Manhattan Island and other geographic landmarks, but there is no city. The crew realizes that they have traveled far back in time when they look out the window and see grazing dinosaurs.

With dwindling fuel supply, their only hope of returning to the present day is to repeat the previous maneuver. The plane increases altitude in an attempt to catch the same "freak jet stream" and to return to 1961. At first, it appears to work; after another flash of light and violent shaking, New York City is once again visible, and although they still cannot contact Idlewild, they are able to reach LaGuardia Airport. However, the air traffic controller on the radio does not understand references to Idlewild or to current aircraft technology such as VOR, ILS and jet aircraft. The controller eventually clears the aircraft to land at La Guardia, but orders the captain to report to the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) office afterward; the captain remarks that they haven't called the Federal Aviation Administration by that name in years. The copilot 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 Boeing 707, the captain decides not to attempt the landing, and instead to make another attempt to return "home" to 1961 before the plane runs out of fuel altogether. He addresses the passengers, indicating that they have traveled back in time. "All I ask is that you remain calm", he tells the passengers over the P.A. system, "...and pray".

Closing narration[edit]


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

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).[2]

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 Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia until 1947; up to that point, its official name was New York Municipal Airport. (However, the nickname "LaGuardia Field" was in common use two weeks after the airport opened.)[3]

Scientific inaccuracies[edit]

The flight crew is able to identify Manhattan Island and the Hudson River. However, these landmarks could have not have existed at the time of the flight's odyssey. They only emerged with the plate tectonics that followed the Late Jurassic period, during which the brontosaurus thrived. Moreover, the brontosaurus was restricted to the Morrison Formation in the western half of the United States.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Listing of graphic novel The Odyssey of Flight 33 on
  2. ^ a b Stanyard, Stewart T. Dimensions Behind The Twilight Zone: A Backstage Tribute to Television's Groundbreaking Series. ECW Press, Toronto, 2007, p. 143.
  3. ^ Derner, Phil Jr. "La Guardia Turns 75: An In-Depth Look at the Airport's Distinguished History.", October 15, 2014. Retrieved October 17, 2016.
  • 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]