The Twilight Zone (1959–1964)
26 user 7 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)




Episode complete credited cast:
William Shatner ... Bob Wilson
Christine White ... Julia Wilson
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 his 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


TV-PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

11 October 1963 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Nightmare at 20,000 Feet 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?


One of six TZ episodes directed by Richard Donner. According to Donner, due to scheduling constraints and technical issues with the simulated weather, airplane engines, and a multitude of other special effect challenges, it was also one the show's most difficult shoots. Filming crammed three days of work into two and demanded extraordinarily long hours from the cast and crew. See more »


In one of the earlier shots, the furry creature is wearing a jacket and turtleneck. 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 ...
See more »


Spoofed in Muppets Tonight: Whoopi Goldberg (1996) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery...
3 October 2009 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

This is one of the most famous episodes of "The Twilight Zone" and has been parodied several times--most notably on "The Simpsons". In addition, when they made the TWILIGHT ZONE MOVIE, this episode was remade with John Lithgow reprising the same role originally done by William Shatner on TV. Needless to say, it's an important part of our culture.

The episode is very simple. There's a nervous guy on a plane (Shatner) and he keeps seeing a horrible monster running about outside the plane as it's flying! The monster is tearing apart the wing and will bring down the plane. However, nobody will believe him, so he decides to take action. The film ends with an excellent twist.

Overall, a great episode. The only serious problem is that the creature is pretty silly--sort of like a guy dressed up in a teddy bear costume! Still, it's enjoyable from start to finish and did will with Shatner's ability to extremely emote!

25 of 31 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 26 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series

Recently Viewed