Twilight Zone Tuesday – The Odyssey of Flight 33

The Odyssey of Flight 33

Capt. ‘Skipper’ Farver – John Anderson
1st Officer John Craig – Paul Comi
2nd Officer Wyatt – Wayne Heffley
Navigator Hatch – Sandy Kenyon
Flight Engineer Purcell – Harp McGuire
Janie – Beverly Brown
Paula – Nancy Rennick

We’re on a jumbo jet that appears to be making an average flight. The pilot’s chill and smoking. Everyone looks pretty relaxed. Captain Skipper says that thank to the aircraft, the fine weather and his awesome piloting they’ll hit Idlewild on schedule. The radio guy calls ahead to say they’ll be arriving on schedule at 18:30. That’s actually pretty funny. Let’s hope mine is. They also report their fuel and other plane stuff.

Janie the Stewardess pops in for a minute. the passengers are doing well but the stewardesses have a request: That they get to New York as fast as possible. One’s going to the opera, two have hot and heavy dates and the fourth is available to any good-looking, honorable, single male crew member. Not sure if that’s her or not. Skipper asks his co-pilot if he felt anything. His co says no, why? Skipper says he’s not sure but he felt something. Like they suddenly sped up. He dismisses it as getting old. His co checks the speed and it seems normal. He suggests that maybe they picked up a tailwind. Everything looks normal but Skipper can’t shake the feeling. He asks the navigator to check the ground-speed. The ground-speed says they’re going at 900 which is impossible. He’s checking with Loran. Whoever that is. He says that Loran reads the ground speed as 830.

The navigator keeps reading it as it keeps climbing, so fast that he can’t even keep up with it but the last readable number was 1,500 knots. Skipper wants to know what Charlie says. Radio Guy says that he can’t raise Charlie on the radio. Their ground speed is up to 2,100 now. Which doesn’t seem possible. I would think that if the plane wasn’t built to go that speed it would break. Skipper, trying to calm his co down, says that ground speed doesn’t really matter, it’s air speed and that they must have hit one heck of a jet stream. The Skipper keeps calling the Navigator Magellan. I don’t know if that’s a nickname or what because the credits say his name is Hatch. So, I’ll call him Magellan.

Skipper says that his needle just “reversed past Gander V.O.R.”. Whatever the hell that means. I’m guessing it’s impossible because the Skipper is asking how is that possible. He asks Magellan to give him a fast position check but Magellan says that they’re past Gander. Ok, what is Gander? Magellan is freaking out, saying that they must be going at least 3,000 knots. Skipper tells the Radio Guy to try raising different airports. He tries all three but receives no response from any of them. They all look very worried.

You’re riding on a jet airliner from London to New York. You’re at 35,000 feet atop an overcast and roughly 55 minutes from Idlewild Airport. But what you’ve seen occur inside the cockpit of this plane is no reflection on the aircraft or the crew. It’s a safe, well-engineered, perfectly-designed machine. And the men you’ve just met are a trained, cool, highly efficient team. The problem is that, simply, the plane is going too fast. and there is nothing within the realm of knowledge or at least logic to explain it. Unbeknownst to passenger and crew this airplane is heading to an uncharted region, well off the beaten track of commercial travelers, it’s moving into the Twilight Zone. What we’re about to see we call “The Odyssey of Flight 33”.

An exterior shot of the plane moves inside and we see Janie looking worried and befudddled. A stewardess is in the galley. She jokes with Janie that she hopes Janie’s proud of the flyboys, she’s going to see The Valkyrie tonight. So this must be the opera stewardess. Opera stewardess says she’s always had a thing for Valhalla, she hopes Janie will say that they’ll make the airport in time. Janie doesn’t know what to say except that she hopes that the Valhalla she’s talking about is at The Met. The other stewardess asks, “Instead of?” to which Janie replies “Instead of a conducted tour through the real thing.” Opera Stewardess is understandably confused. Janie says that they’re in trouble. Opera Stewardess wants to know how bad and Janie tells her that they don’t know yet. Then she tells Opera Stewardess to go ahead and serve the coffee. Janie reminds her that it’s “Coffee, tea or milk, with a smile” and nothing else. Paula (Opera Stewardess) says she’s got a deal. Paula heads out of the galley with a very troubled face.

Janie walks through the airplane, getting the eyeball from a passenger who’s chatting with an old lady. Well, she’s chatting. He looks like he wants to escape her aunt’s health problems. The soldier is just nodding and smiling. Ah, he’s not a soldier, he’s a Group Captain and military attache. Bet you were wondering about that, weren’t you? The lady goes on to tell him about her nephew in World War II. I might be wrong but she looks like Flora from ‘The fever’. He feels something and asks his seatmate if she felt it, too. She says no and goes on chatting. Down the aisle Paula almost drops a cup on a passenger. He asks if she’s ok and she says that she’s got a hot date and is a little shook up. Paula is not holding up her end of the bargain vry ell. She might as well have “Something’s Wrong” tattooed on her forehead.

Back in the cockpit Radio Guy is still trying to get into contact with anyone on the ground. There’s still no answer. Everyone shakes as a loud noise happens and something shakes the cabin. They all do some admirable Shatner shaking. Weirdly, the first thing the co-pilot (I think his name is Craig) asks is if they hit something. Skipper says he doesn’t know but check for damage just in case. Everyone checks the engines and they all seem to be ok. He tells Purcell to go aft and check for damage and calm down anyone who’s freaking out. Skipper says that they’re in trouble but he doesn’t know what kind. Magellan asks what the crazy light was. Skipper says it’ll be something they’d better find out about and quick. Craig the co-pilot wants to know if the shaking was turbulence. Skipper says no, it felt like a sonic boom. As though they went past the speed of sound. Craig says that they didn’t get a mach warning. Skipper replies that since their true air speed is only 470 they probably wouldn’t get a warning. Ok, I know jack about planes. Is it possible to have a ground speed that is different from air speed? Obviously not that drastic of a difference but is it normal for them to be different?

Skipper says that with their last ground speed check put them at over 3,000 knots then they could have gone through some kind of sound barrier, just not one that he’d ever heard of. Skipper asks for another ground speed check. Magellan fiddles with his equipment a bit while they all look concerned. He says that the bump must have knocked the equipment out of whack. Radio Guy tries the radio again but still no go. Co-Pilot Craig says that everything looks in working order, the altimeter and climb rate. Shouldn’t they be cruising, not climbing?Skipper says if they can’t figure their location or raise anybody then he’s going to go below the cloud cover to make visual contact. Craig freaks out, saying they’ll run smack into a dozen other flights. Skipper says they’ll have to take that chance.

Purcell returns to say that there’s no damage aft but the passengers are scared and shook up. Skipper says he is too. Then he (reluctantly) picks up the cockpit phone to talk to the passengers. He lays out what’s going out nd stresses that they’re in no danger. He also says that they should be landing at Idlewild if all goes according to plan. The passengers look more annoyed than scared. He asks where their fuel is. Skipper comments that he doesn’t feel that weird sensation of speed anymore. Skipper asks what their heading is but without anything to go by Magellan is just guessing at 262. Skipper lays it out that they’re going to have to chance going under the cloud cover. Craig turns on the ‘No Smoking and Fasten Your Seat belts” sign. Skipper eases the plane down into the clouds.

Magellan says that if his calculations are correct they should be by Manhattan Island. Purcell says that there’s no skyline, no city. Skipper says that he recognizes the area but it seems to be minus the city and people. Craig, looking out of the window, looks shocked and asks Skipper to verify something for him. They all look out of the window and Purcell wants to know what in holy hell is going on…because there’s dinosaurs. A brontosaurus to be exact, munching on a tree. He’s cute! And now they know something’s screwed up. Royally.

Janie goes through the cabin, smiling at people. Paula wants to know what’s up, they’ve been circling for half an hour. Paula doesn’t get to see the dinos? That”s mean. And wouldn’t the passengers be able to see things are a bit…off? There’s some looking out of the window. Janie says that they don’t know but they’ll keep in touch. Back in the cockpit the guys are flying quietly. Craig wants Skipper to tell him what’s going on. Skipper says he’ll give them a guess but they might think he’s crazy. Um, dude? Dinosaurs! I think that I would be pretty open to just about any suggestions after seeing a brontosaurus munching shrubbery.

Basically his theory is that the thing they went through sent them back in time. They all want to know what they do about it. Doom & Gloom reminds Skipper that their fuel is dropping. Skipper’s plan is to climb back up into the clouds, go as fast as they can and try to hit that jet stream again. The rest of the crew doesn’t look too thrilled about it but they realize that they don’t have much of a choice. They do the things and everyone looks tense while Magellan counts off the knots. They hit the thing again and the cabin shakes. Right after, Janie pops into the cabin and tells them that she knows they’re busy but please get on the phone and calm the passengers down.

They now realize that they’ve landed in 1939. They decide to try to climb and give it another go. Skipper speaks to the passengers, telling them what they’re going to try to do. He says he doesn’t know but it’s the only thing they can try. He starts off by saying that what’s going on, evn he can’t explain. That the crew is as much in the dark as they are. Very comforting, dude. It ends on their hope that this time it will work.

A global jet airliner en route from London to New York on an uneventful afternoon in the year 1961. But now reported overdue and missing. And by now searched for on land, sea and air by anguished human beings fearful of what they’ll find. But you and I know where she is. You and I know what’s happened. So if some moment, any moment you hear the sound of jet engines flying atop the overcast, engines that sound searching and lost, engines that sound desperate…shoot up a flare or do something. That would be Global 33 trying to get home from the Twilight Zone.

This is a weird one, even for the Twilight Zone. It has a touch of whimsy with the dinosaurs and all but such a depressing ending. They’re basically flying off into the unknown, trying the jet stream again and again until they run out of fuel and crash. Quite the depressing and nihilistic ending for Twilight Zone.

The ‘Skipper’ is on quite a few other episodes of Twilight Zone.Two I haven’t gotten to yet but one that he’s in that I have done is ‘Passage for Trumpet‘ as Gabe.

Co-Pilot Craig is also on other episodes as well. One that I have done is ‘People are Alike All Over‘ as the optimistic Marcusson.

I was wrong about the chatty passenger. She is not Flora from ‘The Fever‘ but she is on an (awesome) later episode of Twilight Zone that I can’t wait to cover.

Paula (Opera Stewardess) is also on ‘The After Hours‘ as Mrs. Keever

So far the Military Attache passenger has been in the most. ‘Twenty Two‘ (PA Announcer, uncredited), ‘A Thing About Machines‘ (Intern), ‘One for the Angels‘ (Doctor), and ‘Where is Everybody‘ (Reporter #2) plus a few that I haven’t gotten to. One of which is my all-time favorites.

Join us again for next week’s episode of Twilight Zone Tuesday – I was considering skipping the next episode: Mr. Dingle the Strong and moving ahead to the episode after: Static. I will leave it up to you, dear readers. Would you prefer I skip Mr. Dingle the Strong and move onto Static? Or should I keep going in episode order. Let me know down below which you would rather have next week: Mr. Dingle the Strong or Static?

4 thoughts on “Twilight Zone Tuesday – The Odyssey of Flight 33

  1. Gander is an airport and town on Newfoundland which would be the first major airport in North America a trans-Atlantic flight would encounter. Navigators are sometimes nicknamed Magellan, after the commander of the first expedition to circumnavigate the world. (Considering Magellan died on the trip, not a good omen for this airplane.) And Idlewild is what we now call JFK Airport in NYC.

    Planes do pick up or have to fight tailwinds, which is why west-east flights in the Northern Hemisphere are usually a bit faster than the flight in the other direction. But hundreds of miles an hour? That’s . . . that’s . . . impossible, which is why the crew reacts as they do. However, they do make a sensible analysis about a sonic boom. The boom occurs when an object exceeds the speed of sound relative to the air mass in which it is traveling. If the plane is traveling with this impossible tail wind, then even if it is traveling at supersonic speed relative to the ground, it might still be traveling at subsonic speed relative to the air mass it is within, hence there should be no sonic boom.

    1. Ah, ok. That clears up quite a bit, thanks! I thought that Gander might have been a nickname or call name for something. I had no clue it was an actual airport, lol. I did know Idlewild was but to show how little I travel (or know about airports in general) I thought it was a current name.

      I was wondering about the difference between their ground speed and air speed and how he could tell it wasn’t a regular sonic boom. Sounds like they put some research into the story or one of the writers knew what they were talking about at any rate.

      I wondered if this episode could have been one of the influences for Stephen King’s ‘The Langoliers’.

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