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Terror in the Air


When the whole flight crew of a commercial airline falls ill due to food poisoning, a doctor must find a way to land the plane safely as well as attend to a woman in the throes of labor.



Air Dates

  • First Run - August 22, 1975
  • Repeat - January 13, 1976





115     14

21 Responses to Episode 0331

An airliner is flying from Miami to Seattle with a single stop in Kansas City. All is well on the first leg of the flight and a group of convention-goers depart the plane in Kansas City. A single passenger gets on. After departure on the second part of the flight the unthinkable happens. Assume nothing until the very end of the program.

Christian B.

A doctor is forced to land a plane and deliver a baby when the flight crew succumbs to food poisoning (AND DON'T CALL ME SHIRLEY!!).

Justine B.

I hope it's not a spoiler but the villain of the piece is the chiffon pumpkin pie. A good old fashioned airliner in distress story with the pilot and co-pilot incapacitated and a burnt out professional placed under stress to save the day... In this case the burnt out professional is a doctor who must treat the sick men as well as deliver a baby - not a traumatized pilot who's still not "over Macho Grande". Good performances and generally believable technical dialog improve matters. Pretty good if you can forgive the overly familiar plot.

Rudolph Giovanni

Food poisoning strikes the pilots of a passenger plane. The stewardess seeks medical help from the only doctor on board, but the situation is critical and the pilots are out for the flight. The doctor is rather despondent over the loss of his own son, a pilot, who was killed in an air accident, and whose body is on this very flight. The doctor was a hobby pilot in the past and must take control of the plane. He is talked down by a friendly military pilot who knew his son.

Adrian T.

This is one of the better episodes of Mystery Theater. A doctor delivers a baby and lands a plane with the help of air traffic control. But who *is* air traffic control?


This is a very riveting episode about the suspense of landing a plane when the pilots have fallen into a coma from food Arnold Bowen
This is one of the more entertaining episodes I've heard. The doctor gives an especially good performance. Exciting with just the right amount of silliness. I just wish there had been a scene with the doctor actually delivering the baby. I also enjoyed the commercials...a goofy squirt jingle and and a metric system psa.

Phillip M.

I discovered something interesting while listening to Ian Martin’s dramatic and well-written ”Terror in the Air.” Radio dramas are known as Theatre of the Mind because as we listen we fill in the details of the story in our “mind’s eye.” Our brains work to determine things like what the characters look like, the story’s ‘scenery,’ where the players are positioned in relationship to the scenery and each other, and other important elements. For every listener each one of these things is unique. Terror in the Air takes place entirely within in the cramped confines of a commercial airliner – a place we all have been – which places significant constraints on the usually limitless possibilities for these elements. The result is a highly suspenseful and claustrophobic trip on jetliner in crisis. Perennial Robert Dryden, who seems play the role of a doctor quite often (for example Dr. Wyndham in the fantastic “Fall of the House of Usher”) plays Dr. Sam McCall. Reminiscent of Hitchcock’s classic ‘Wrong Man’ character, “Doc” finds himself reluctantly called on to save a planeload of souls while traveling to recover the body of his son, killed in an Air Force accident. The mixture of dialogues between various people on the plane, a very due pregnant woman, the broken radio, a sudden storm, and the chilling reveal at the end make for a spectacular episode, and embodies the highest quality of Radio Mystery Theatre. I give “Terror in the Air” 5 stars out of 5 - Juror #4.


Wow, this was a terrific and even astounding episode. Thrilling! I think of it from time to time, for some reason.


Very fun episode, and although I guessed at the ending early on, the story drew me in enough that I'd forgotten about my guess by the end. One of the best lines is almost lost toward the end, revealing all, just after landing--in fact, the pilot didn't catch it himself. After having come to a complete stop, he exclaimed, "I made it!" And the colonel replies, "That's aaaallll your son asked for!"


The perfect storm of tragedies in this episode are way too reminiscent of the movie "Airplane!". In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the movie was a riff on this very episode! Seriously!


Surely you can't be serious!

Joe Mama

@ Mike - Another fun reveal is when the Doc pulls back on the yoke and the colonel warns "not so hard."


I laughed when I read the plot synopsis for this episode, because I immediately thought of "Airplane!" I just wanted to tell you both good luck. We're all counting on you.

Joe Mama

I thought this was a very good episode and I didn't immediately think of "Airplane!", especially since the auto-pilot wasn't inflatable. Definitely did not see the twist coming.


This CBSRMT episode was inspired by the 1957 Dana Andrews movie,"Zero Hour" which was the movie spoofed by the 1980 film "Airplane" which was basically a comedy version of the previous 1957 film. That makes this CBSRMT episode the first time that the 1957 move "Zero Hour", in which Andrews plays reluctant hero Ted Stryker, inspired a copy - five years before the release of "Airplane". It's likely that writer Ian Martin had been a big fan of the 1957 movie and saw its dramatic potential for radio just as Abrahams and the Zucker brothers would later mine the original films comedic potential for a comedy version remake.


I rate this episode ★★★★★ for EXCELLENT. This is one of the best episodes written by Ian Martin! So much character development, so many conflicts, one joyful climax, and a great shocking surprise in the very last scene. This would’ve been great for a TWILIGHT ZONE episode. Even the tile of this CBSRMT episode is great. Another way to title it would be “The Million-To-One Chance” or simply call it “Mayday.” The sound effects of the cockpit door, passengers chattering, airplane engines on, thunder roaring during turbulence, stewardess call button buzzing, intercom buzzer, and tires squeaking on the runway were highly supportive in this mystery tale. And the music was intensifying all the way. 2 of the best music tracks were at the 23-minute mark (where the characters have to be calm during a drastic situation) and at the 49-minute mark where we ponder on the shocking conclusion. In our Host’s Prologue, E.G. Marshall brings up the topic of Airplanes a.k.a. the great silver bird. In ACT-1, he brings us into the story where it all takes place in one spot: Flight 113 Transways Airlines traveling from Miami to Kansas City to Seattle. He jumps back into the story explaining what a “Milk Run” is. In ACT-2, he states that man may conquer the elements, but never holy subdue them. He jumps into the story again knowing that the control room is in serious trouble. In ACT-3, after knowing that a voice on the headphones can help the doctor to help the passengers, our Host jumps in the middle again to inform the listeners that the plane has safely landed and the doctor became a hero. But more importantly, E.G. Marshall asks what REALLY helped the doctor to land? Radio Silence? Or some other force beyond that? In his Epilogue, after listening to what type of Mystery we heard, he & CBSRMT series ask for is the suspension of disbelief. And I’d give props to our great cast: Robert Dryden (as Dr. Sam McCall & Doug Fletcher), Jennifer Harmon (as Fran Carwell), Earl Hammond (as Captain Thomas & Fred Pierce), Richard Seth (as Colonel Jackson Blake & Airport Director), and Hetty Galen (as Jackie Pierce & Enez). Both actress were superb with their delicate voices. Earl Hammond is excellent. Richard Seth was amazing and it’s a shame that this episode and #0313-THE POISONED PEN were the only ones he performed in. But big props go to Robert Dryden. He did more than 300 episodes for the CBSRMT series and this is one of his most memorable roles. I highly recommend this mystery story to all. And if you’re Nostalgic on Old Time Radio commercials, this particular episode has commercials for Sonic Drive-In, Squirt Fruit soft drink, information on the Metric System from the National Bureau Standards, Himan Brown announcing the winner’s name for Disneyworld tickets, “Summer Madness” by the KOOL & THE GANG playing for the Foundation Church, the Keep America Beautiful Organization, the Catholic Communications Foundation, the Saturday Dallas Morning News on WFAA, and the opening theme music for CBS Radio News. Until next time…pleasant dreams. =^D


What great episode! Just from the title I was anxious to listen to it! I envisioned the Classic Twilight Zone episode with William Shatner Nightmare at 20000 feet and even though I am not a fan of remakes , was remade with John Lithgow in that same role in the Twilight Zone Movie in 1983 and he did an excellent job. But I digress. This episode as Russel has covered was just excellent all around. Sound effects acting storyline and a wonderful twist to it all. Check it out and let us know what you like or don't like about it!


Couple of goofs: 1. The DC-9 is not a 4 engine aircraft. It's a smaller aircraft with twin engines near the tail. 2. Jet aircraft fly at altitudes way above thunderstorms. The still have to dodge supercells, but it's not like air travel in propeller planes like in old movies.

Joe Mama

I loved this episode! The baby was breach, so expected more than a quick delivery. Maybe a C-section?

Mike Feaster

I loved this episode! Enjoyable characters, fast paced, and surprise ending.

Barbara Leonard

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