Today, February 5, This Day in Twilight Zone History and The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia celebrate the 1960 premiere of "The Last Flight."
British actor Kenneth Haigh made his TZ debut as World War I flyer William Terrance Decker, who leaves an air battle over France in 1918 and inexplicably lands his plane on a U.S. Air Force Base in the year 1959. It's exceedingly odd to see him taxi his frail little French biplane and park it next to modern jet fighters and bombers.
Richard Matheson wrote the compelling script, which pits Decker's mystified flyer up against some equally mystified U.S. Air Force officers. Rod Serling loved aviation stories, so it's not a surprise that he flipped for this wonderful first-season episode. Rod would spend many hours assembling plastic airplane model kits in his home office out by the pool.
Matheson, of course, was also fascinated with time travel, and would go on to write the marvelous Christopher Reeve/Jane Seymour film Somewhere in Time, based on his novel Bid Time Return.
William F. Claxton directed this episode, which involved taking the crew for a rare journey off the MGM lot to Norton Air Force Base in San Bernardino, California, where local jet jockeys were as fascinated with Decker's plane as the characters in Matheson's script.
Haigh was one of the actors who came up missing during my quest to interview as many living TZ thespians as possible. If anyone has a clue on how to reach him, please let me know.
In the meantime, let's hoist a brew to Decker, the British Flying Corps, and the sometimes odd nature of Earth's atmosphere, which leads to some pretty strange detours into The Twilight Zone.