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The Doomsday Flight

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Doomsday Flight
Domesday Flight.jpg
Directed byWilliam Graham (as William Graham)
Produced byFrank Price
Screenplay byRod Serling
Music byLalo Schifrin
CinematographyWilliam Margulies
Edited byRobert F. Shugrue
Distributed byNational Broadcasting Company (NBC)
Release date
  • December 13, 1966 (1966-12-13)
Running time
93 minutes
CountryUnited States

The Doomsday Flight is a 1966 television-thriller film written by Rod Serling and directed by William Graham.[1] The cast includes Jack Lord, Edmond O'Brien, Van Johnson, Katherine Crawford, John Saxon, Richard Carlson and Ed Asner.[2][3]


At Los Angeles International Airport, when a Douglas DC-8 airliner takes off for New York, shortly after takeoff, the airline receives a bomb threat. The stranger (Edmond O'Brien) on the telephone asks for a sum of $100,000 in small denominations. He also states that the bomb is hidden in the cabin. The stranger is actually a former engineer who worked in the aviation industry.

The company Chief Pilot Bob Shea (Richard Carlson) decides to warn the flight crew. He orders pilot Capt. Anderson (Van Johnson), to circle around Las Vegas. He also asks the flight crew to search for the bomb on board. It is revealed that the bomb has an aneroid, altitude-sensitive switch and will detonate if the aircraft lands.

Meanwhile, the search to find the bomb on board the flight, involves the opening of passenger hand luggage and tearing open several areas in the cabin and cockpit. All efforts are unsuccessful. The passengers are alerted to the emergency and start to panic.

The bomb threat caller telephones again to tell the police how to pay the ransom. A delivery man will simply come to the airport, take the money. The police follow the van closely, but the van has a serious accident on a ring road and catches fire. The terrorist has trouble believing the police who confirm that they are preparing a second payment. He seeks refuge at a bar, where he drinks a lot and starts talking to the bartender (Malachi Throne) who is suspicious of the caller.

When the caller has a heart attack, the bartender calls the police who come running, but the man is dead. The FBI Special Agent Frank Thompson (Jack Lord) then interrogates the bartender asking him to report the exact words of the terrorist. The police discover that the bomb will explode if the airliner drops below 4,000 feet.

The chief pilot then decides to tell the flight crew to land the aircraft at Stapleton International Airport in Denver, Colorado, whose altitude is higher, and landing there will not trigger the bomb. After the airliner is safely on the ground, the flight crew meet in the airline operations room of his company.

In the end, by chance, the bomb is discovered where it was least expected — in the pilot's chart case.



It was the first TV movie for John Saxon.[4]


The Doomsday Flight premiered on NBC in the United States on December 13, 1966 and was the most watched made-for-TV movie to that time, with a Nielsen rating of 27.5 and an audience share of 48% until it was surpassed by Heidi in 1968.

The Doomsday Flight was released theatrically in cinemas in other countries around the world,[5] and distributed by the Rank Organisation in the UK.[6]


In a contemporary review by J. Gould in The New York Times decried the "exploitation of bomb scares on passenger airplanes" engendered by The Doomsday Flight.[7] [N 1]

Copycats and FAA concerns

The Doomsday Flight led to copycats who would call airlines and claim to have a similar bomb aboard a flight. A notable attempt was aboard a Qantas Airways flight in 1971, when a caller claimed to have placed such a bomb. The man actually placed a bomb at the Sydney Airport, leading officials to take the threat seriously and pay out $560,000 to the person.[9] In 1971 the Federal Aviation Administration urged television stations in the United States not to air the film on the basis that the film could inspire other emotionally unstable individuals to commit the same or similar acts as the villain in the film.[10]

See also



  1. ^ The story of The Doomsday Flight was one that Rod Serling admitted that he regretted writing.[8]


  1. ^ Paris 1995, p. 203.
  2. ^ The Doomsday Flight
  3. ^ The Doomsday Flight (1966) on YouTube
  4. ^ Vagg, Stephen (29 July 2020). "The Top Twelve Stages of Saxon". Filmink.
  5. ^ "Release Information: 'The Doomsday Flight' (1966)."IMDb, 2019. Retrieved: August 16, 2019.
  6. ^ "Distribution: 'The Doomsday Flight' (1966)." IMDb, 2019. Retrieved: August 16, 2019.
  7. ^ Gould, J. "Movie Reviews: 'The Doomsday Flight'.", December 16, 1966. Retrieved: August 16, 2019.
  8. ^ Pendo 1985, p. 288.
  9. ^ Trumbull, Robert. "Australian Airline pays $560,000 in bomb hoax." The New York Times, May 27, 1971.
  10. ^ Buckhorn,. Robert F. "TV stations asked to ban 'Domesday Flight'." The Bryan Times, (Google News Archive Search,, August 11, 1971. Retrieved: August 16, 2019.


  • Paris, Michael. From the Wright Brothers to Top Gun: Aviation, Nationalism, and Popular Cinema. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 1995. ISBN 978-0-7190-4074-0.
  • Pendo, Stephen. Aviation in the Cinema. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1985. ISBN 0-8-1081-746-2.

External links

This page was last edited on 29 July 2020, at 08:27
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