Season 1 Episode 1

Trapped in the Sky

Aired Thursday 8:00 PM Sep 30, 1965 on ITV
out of 10
User Rating
21 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

The Hood sabotages the new Fireflash atomic airliner to draw out International Rescue so he can learn their secrets.

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  • Fantastic start to the series

    We start off with a shady character, the Hood, who wants to learn the secrets of International Rescue and sell blueprints to the highest bidder. He manages to find out through telepathic torture between him and his half-brother Kyrano, that International Rescue is set to start operations.

    The Hood plants a bomb on the Air Terrainean's new hypersonic, atomic powered airliner in London in order to draw out International Rescue. He proceeds to inform London Air Traffic Control and informs them that the bomb will auto-detonate upon impact of landing. Commander Norman orders Captain Hansen and his co-pilot to return to the airspace over London airport.

    An X-Ray shot taken shows that there is indeed a bomb aboard Fireflash. All seems hopeless, and to make matters worse; the shielding around the nuclear reactor in Fireflash needs servicing within two hours or else passengers will succumb to radiation exposure.

    Kyrano's daughter, Tin-Tin, is just one of the crew and passengers now in mortal danger. John Tracy, who has been listening in to radio transmissions from the Thunderbird 5 space station, contacts Tracy Island with details of the threat. Jeff proceeds to dispatch Scott in Thunderbird 1 and Virgil in Thunderbird 2 with Pod 3.

    Meanwhile Lieutenant Bob Meddings is able to convince Commander Norman to allow him to take a TX-204 Target carrying aircraft out to Fireflash to attempt to dislodge the bomb. Upon requisitioning a nearby TX-204, Meddings goes out to the Fireflash and is sent out on a target to attempt to board a hatch when opened, risking a 300ft fall. While Meddings successfully manages to enter the hatch, he cannot disarm the bomb. He falls from the Fireflash, where it seems his parachute has failed, though it thankfully opens a mere 20 something feet from the ground.

    The last option that can be taken is for the Fireflash to land as normal and hope that the bomb fails to detonate. However, a craft going at 1.5,000mph is detected, which is Scott in Thunderbird 1. Scott introduces himself as part of International Rescue and is equipted to help them out. Scott lands at London airport and requests Police to protect TB1. Despite suspicsion, Scott is able to persuade Norman to permit International Rescue's assistance. Police cars are dispatched as protection, one of these officers is the Hood in disguise in order to take photos of the Thunderbird craft.

    There is 30 minutes before Fireflash's Radiation Safety Factor expires and 20 minutes before Thunderbird 2 arrives, thus giving IR 10 minutes to initiate the rescue. Meanwhile the Hood takes photographs of the IR craft. The Automatic Camera Detector unit alerts Scott and police cars set off along the M1 in pursuit of the absconding Hood whilst Thunderbird 2 arrives and unloads three Elevator Cars, two of which will be remote-controlled from his master vehicle.

    The police lose the Hood, so Scott alerts their London agent, Lady Penelope to track down the Hood. Meanwhile Fireflash only has 5 minutes left when the Elevator Cars are ready. Fireflash will be guided to land on top of the cars to reduce the likelihood of a detonation. Virgil notices a fault on #3 Elevator Car, which inexplicably clears itself.

    The cars speed to intercept the approaching Fireflash along Runway 29, but when the 3rd Car crashes due to its fault, Virgil is forced to abort the first rescue attempt and bring out a reserve car. Fireflash begins a second approach and manages to make contact with the cars. When he applies the brakes, Virgil loses control of his vehicle and flips into a trench, but survives unhurt. Meanwhile, Fireflash grinds to a halt before it reaches the end of the tarmac, saving the crew and passengers from the radiation and avoiding a detonation.

    After all is safe, the attention is turned to the the intruder on board Thunderbird 1 again. Lady Penelope and her butler, Parker, pursue the Hood in FAB1 and blast their opponent off the M1 with the Rolls-Royce's built-in machine gun. Although the Hood survives, his photographs are ruined. On Tracy Island, Jeff has a doctor confirm that Kyrano is still in good health. The topic of the conversation soon shifts to the Fireflash incident and the doctor mentions how he would be honoured to shake International Rescue's hand. With a parting handshake, Jeff grants the oblivious doctor his wish, before announcing to his sons, "Boys, I think we're in business."

    All in all a wonderful episode and a first episode that couldn't be a better one that a series could ask for. Granted the episode is slow moving thanks to the pedded areas from the original 30 minute piece, even those pieces are real fantastic and flow well into the episode.

    The voice acting in this episode alone is fantastic and the effects are quite ahead of its time (somewhat as ahead times go with fake movie making a.k.a CGI). This episode was fantastic in plotline and it introduces a lot, thus I give this episode a 10/10 rating.moreless
  • International Rescue face their first mission when a new airliner is sabotaged by the sinister Hood. The plane has been fitted with a bomb that will detonate on landing, and Kyrano's daughter is aboard.moreless

    The opening episode of the series is arguably the best. The writers take their time to introduce the premise. As opposed to rushing into action as soon as possible, a great deal of time is taken before we meet International Rescue. The disaster is set up in the first half, and the second half sees the Thunderbirds blast into action. A perfect balance.

    The launches of Thunderbirds 1 and 2 are also excellent. The awe-inspiring grandeur of these scenes are perfectly emphasised here, with the stirring versions of the Thunderbirds theme accompanying the sequences.

    The rescue itself is one of the most daring. The tension is built to breaking point when the Fireflash airliner lands on the elevatior cars. The viewer knows at the back of their mind that International Rescue will save the day. Nevertheless, we still cannot help gasping quietly to ourselves as the plane screeches along the runway. Barry Gray's excellent music has a part to play in this, while direction is the key to building this suspense.

    Ultimately, Trapped In The Sky is a perfectly crafted 50 minutes of television. If you only see one Thunderbirds episode, make it this one.moreless
  • This episode was really great and I felt like it had blown me away

    This episode was the best episode of the show I ever saw but since I like the 2004 movie better, I still think Scott was kinda cute in both the movie and TV versions of this show and Thunderibrd 1 really took off for the very very first time here
David Holliday

David Holliday

Virgil Tracy

David Graham

David Graham

Aloysius Parker/Brains/Kyrano/Gordon Tracy

Peter Dyneley

Peter Dyneley

Jeff Tracy

Ray Barrett

Ray Barrett

John Tracy

Shane Rimmer

Shane Rimmer

Scott Tracy

Sylvia Anderson

Sylvia Anderson

Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward

David Graham

David Graham

Captain Hansen / Lt. Bob Meddings / Doctor / Fireflash Passenger

Recurring Role

Peter Dyneley

Peter Dyneley

Commander Norman / Interceptor One

Recurring Role

Ray Barrett

Ray Barrett

Fireflash Co-Pilot / Control Tower Lt. / Harris / TX204 Pilot (Target One)

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (12)

    • Thunderbird 5 has "International Rescue" written over the windows but it is written so it is readable only from the inside (ie backwards from the outside) so the only ones who could ever read it would be John and Alan.

    • The Hood's policeman diguise is almost identical to his ground crew disguise except it has a hat.

    • Apparently, Fireflash's inspection hatches are opened with a switch in the cockpit. This would be quite awkward for the ground crews if they had to go up to the cockpit everytime to open or close the hatches.

    • At one point, Scott says into his radio "International Rescue space station from Thunderbird 1." Surely calling it by it's name, Thunderbird 5, would be quicker and easier.

    • As Thunderbird 2 comes to a stop on it's launch ramp, a silver rod can be seen to appear in a slight jump in the film just in front of the red engines. This rod can clearly be seen as the blast flap is raised and as TB2 leaves the ramp. (The rod is presumably to stop the TB2 model from sliding backwards off the ramp when it is raised).

    • During Thunderbird 2's pod selection process, the pods are always shown to be too close together to allow TB2 to descend onto the chosen pod without hitting the ones on either side. When the shot changes to show TB2 descending, the pods are spaced out wider.

    • As Fireflash makes it first landing attempt onto the elevator cars, the radio control elavator car on the left can be seen to bear the number 4, even before car 3 had crashed and car 4 had left the pod.

    • As The Hood is taking photographs of the inside of Thundrbird 1, we can see a window behind the pilot seat. Although there is a window/hatch present in TB1 (as we would see in later episodes), this one is on the wrong side (Scott usually looks to his right when looking out the window) and its orientation is wrong for when TB1 is horizontal.

    • When the Hood warns the control tower about the bomb, he places a "sound only" call. Yet despite their inability to see him, he waits until after the call is complete before removing his Mission: Impossible-style face mask.

    • In this episode, it is revealed that Jeff Tracy is one of the first astronauts to land on the moon. Yet this episode takes place in 2065, and the first moon landing took place in 1969, so Jeff would have to be over a hundred years old for this to be true.

    • Several shots from beneath Thunderbird 1 show the 'T' of 'Thunderbird' painted on the nose cone, yet the nose cone is free of markings in all other shots of the craft.

    • - When the Doctor arrives on the Island, Jeff activates operation-cover-up. Yet in scenes featuring Jeff, Scott and Gordon, the portraits on the wall clearly show the boys in their International Rescue uniforms.

  • QUOTES (0)

  • NOTES (13)

    • Strangely, there is no one on the M1 during the car chase, despite if being an important motorway in it's own right and a major route into the capital of England.

    • The crash of Elevator Car 3 was inspired by the real-life crash of the model during filming. The model crashed off the runway set due to radio control failure (the same problem it would suffer in the episode). The production crew liked the effect of the crash so much, that they built a plane model for the elevator car to explode against.

    • Featured equipment:
      Thunderbird 1, Thunderbird 2 with pod 3, Thunderbird 5, Fireflash, TX 204, Master and Radio-controlled Elevator Cars

    • Captain Hansen returns in Operation Crash-Dive, The Impostors, The Duchess Assignment and Security Hazard (Trapped flashback).

    • Commander Norman returns in Operation Crash-Dive, Edge of Impact, Security Hazard (Trapped flashback) and Alias Mr. Hackenbacker.

    • The Fireflash is the only non International Rescue vehicle to appear in the end credits. The airliner is later seen in Operation Crash-Dive, The Impostors, The Man From MI.5, The Duchess Assignment and Security Hazard (Trapped flashback).

    • Grandma does not appear in this episode.

    • Ray Barrett performs Alan's single line of dialogue as Matt Zimmerman had yet to be cast.

    • This episode features no on-screen episode caption but in 2000, Carlton added one on the video release.

    • The TX 204 aircraft later appears in The Mighty Atom (evacuating the people at the Melbourne Power Plant) and Edge of Impact.

    • In the 1980's, this episode and Operation Crash-Dive were edited together to form the ninety-minute compilation film entitled Thunderbirds to the Rescue.

    • The opening sequence uses sound effects such as Kyrano's screams. Also, the Mole is missing from the end credits.

    • Originally filmed as a 25-minute episode, it soon had to be brought up to 50 minutes. Some of the notable new material included Bob Meddings' failed attempt at removing the bomb from the Fireflash.


    • Lieutenant Meddings is named after Derek Meddings, who was visual and special effects supervisor for this as well as all other Gerry Anderson shows until moving to feature film work after UFO.