Twilight Zone: Season 5, Episode 3

Nightmare at 20,000 Feet (11 Oct. 1963)
"The Twilight Zone" Nightmare at 20,000 Feet (original title)

TV Episode  -   -  Fantasy | Horror | Mystery
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Ratings: 9.2/10 from 1,559 users  
Reviews: 17 user | 3 critic

A man, newly recovered from a nervous breakdown, becomes convinced that a monster only he sees is damaging the plane he's flying in.



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Title: Nightmare at 20,000 Feet (11 Oct 1963)

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Episode complete credited cast:
Christine White ...
Julia Wilson
Ed Kemmer ...
Flight Engineer (as Edward Kemmer)
Asa Maynor ...


Bob Wilson is on a flight when he sees a creature of some sort out on the wing of the aircraft. He's only recently recovered from a nervous breakdown and isn't sure that what he is seeing is real. Every time someone else looks out the window, the creature hides from view. When the creature begins to tamper with one of the engines he begs him wife to tell the pilots to keep an eye on the engines. If they see nothing, he agrees to commit himself to an asylum when they arrive at their destination. His paranoia drives him to a desperate act. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis





Release Date:

11 October 1963 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Richard Matheson originally wanted Patricia Breslin to play Bob Wilson's wife, because she had played a similar role very well in Twilight Zone: Nick of Time (1960). See more »


From the outside of the airplane, during a lightning flash, the cables that pull off the emergency escape door are visible. See more »


Bob Wilson: I realize what this sounds like. Do I look insane?
Julia Wilson: No, darling, no.
Bob Wilson: I know I had a mental breakdown. I know I had it in an airplane. I know it looks to you as if the same thing is happening again, but it isn't. I'm sure, it isn't.
See more »


Featured in Pioneers of Television: Science Fiction (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

Brilliant claustrophobic tale of paranoia!
5 March 2006 | by (Beverley Hills, England) – See all my reviews

I can't say I'm a big fan of The Twilight Zone; I used to watch it now and again as a kid but, to be honest, I've forgotten most of what I've seen. I've just seen this episode, however, and have just had a stark reminder of how good these twenty five minute episodes of terror can be! Nightmare at 20,000 feet is one of the most famous episodes of The Twilight Zone, partly because of the excellent Simpsons' parody of it. We follow an aeroplane passenger who has recently been the victim of a nervous breakdown. Upon peering out of the window, he spots a gremlin trying to take the plane apart - only problem is, it disappears whenever anyone else looks out; and nobody is willing to take his word for it! The reason why this little tale is so good is because of the way it draws us into the lead character's plight; this really is an impossible situation, and watching him get out of it is lots of fun, and often very funny! Almost the entire episode is set inside of an aeroplane, which gives the tale a very claustrophobic feel, which in turn helps it to be more frightening. This episode stars future Captain Kirk, William Shatner - who does a fine job as the paranoid lead, and an interesting little bit of trivia, is that it's directed by Lethal Weapon director Richard Donner. I cant say how this episode stands up to the best of the rest of The Twilight Zone - but in it's own right; it's damn good, and miles better than most of the rubbish they put on TV these days. Highly recommended viewing!

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