The Twilight Zone (1959–1964)
21 user 5 critic

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.


Richard Donner


Richard Matheson, Rod Serling (created by)

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


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

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Release Date:

11 October 1963 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


William Shatner who plays Bob Wilson in this episode played Captain James T. Kirk of the Federation of Planets Starship Enterprise on Star Trek six years after this episode. Ed (Edward) Kemmer) who played the pilot of the plane Bob Wilson is flying on, played Commander-in-Chief Buzz Corey of the United Planets Spaceship Terra on Space Patrol 13 years before this episode. See more »


The plane from the outside appeared to be a twin-engined Convair 240/340/440, but from the inside was a four-engined DC-6 or DC-7. See more »


[last lines]
Narrator: [Closing Narration] The flight of Mr. Robert Wilson has ended now, a flight not only from point A to point B, but also from the fear of recurring mental breakdown. Mr. Wilson has that fear no longer, though, for the moment, he is, as he has said, alone in this assurance. Happily, his conviction will not remain isolated too much longer, for happily, tangible manifestation is very often left as evidence of trespass, even from so intangible a quarter as The Twilight Zone.
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Spoofed in God, the Devil and Bob: Bob's Father (2000) See more »

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User Reviews

In the unlikely event of a gremlin fasten your seat belts.
8 December 2013 | by darrenpearce111See all my reviews

Very iconic, engrossing, and mostly good episode. Bob Wilson (William Shatner) is the passenger with a fear of flying who comes face to face with tragedy and madness in the form of a gremlin. The big drawback here is the gremlin looks quite ridiculous. Despite that, Shatner is excellent as the man who hopes he's recovered from a mental breakdown. The wife is played by Christine White (from 'The Prime Mover', season two) and her expressions say it all- that he must have finally flipped. Enjoyable, and in some ways memorable as Shatner fearfully looks out of through the rain soaked window. Oddly for the era, the man is seemingly hysterical while the wife and air hostess (Asa Maynor) are calm and protective. Great piece of television.

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