The Twilight Zone (1959–1964)
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Nightmare at 20,000 Feet 

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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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

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Richard Matheson originally wanted Patricia Breslin to play Bob Wilson's wife, because she had played the wife of another William Shatner character very well in The Twilight Zone: Nick of Time (1960), a story also written by Matheson. See more »


Bob Wilson is not wearing a wedding ring. Some married people prefer not to display such jewelry, for any number of reasons. See more »


Narrator: [opening Narration] Portrait of a frightened man: Mr. Robert Wilson, thirty-seven, husband, father, and salesman on sick leave. Mr. Wilson has just been discharged from a sanitarium where he spent the last six months recovering from a nervous breakdown, the onset of which took place on an evening not dissimilar to this one, on an airliner very much like the one in which Mr. Wilson is about to be flown home - the difference being that, on that evening half a year ago, Mr. Wilson's flight was ...
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Referenced in Chaos on the Bridge (2014) See more »

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User Reviews

A TV Classic. One of the best Twilight Zone episodes.
22 March 2007 | by (Petersburg, Virginia) – See all my reviews

"Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" directed by Richard Donner one of his first works, is just wonderful it features William Shattner as a panic stricken man on an airplane. This episode is wonderfully done, and well remembered for one of the Twilight Zone's best and is well known over the years in pop culture memory. The plot has the Shattner character as a man that's just recently gotten out of rehab, because he had suffered a mental and nervous breakdown, and getting on a plane will almost certain test his limits. In fact his last breakdown was due to a flight. And boy does his imagination take a turn for the worst when he sees outside on the wing of the plane a furry like creature! This creature stares him in the face! The big question is it really real, or just a test of imagination, because he's the only one to see it. Really a well done episode mostly remembered for Shattner and the terror on a plane with a creature on the wing, this episode just plays with your mind and imagination so well.

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