Fly the Unfriendly Skies
Bob and Emily on the plane
Season 1
Episode 1
Production No. 7251
Air date Sept. 16, 1972
Director(s) Jay Sandrich
Gallery • Quotes

Fly the Unfriendly Skies is the first episode of Season 1 of The Bob Newhart Show. This is the series premiere. It originally aired on the CBS network in the United States on September 16, 1972.


Bob's "fear of flying" workshop gets a new member when Emily accepts his invitation to travel with the group by airplane to New York. Emily admits that she too has a fear of flying. All goes well...until the plane gets moving.


Bob arrives at home telling Emily that his fear of flying group is taking a trip to New York and he's taking Emily along with them. Emily then proceeds to explain to Bob that she, too, has a fear of flying. With Howard's help, Bob tries to convince her that it's perfectly safe and there's nothing to worry about. But Emily still refuses.

Later, at Bob's office, Bob speaks to the airline on the phone to adjust the plane reservations. Minutes later, Emily calls and says she'll do it, so Bob has to undo what he just fixed with the airline.

Emily joins the last group meeting before the trip and speaks with the group about her fears. But when the time finally comes to board the plane, while Bob is doing everything he can to keep the group settled, Emily ends up being the one to force the plane to turn around only 50 feet down the runway.

The following day, Bob arrives back home to see Emily break down crying. Instead of being angry, Bob ends up laughing at her.


In this first episode of the series, the viewer learns of Emily's fear of flying. That fear is referenced a few times throughout the series. Let it be noted that Emily also cries in the first episode, as well as the series final episode.

Mrs. Bakerman's tagline "Isn't that nice" is used for the first time.

Bob Newhart's "one-sided phone conversation" routine is used twice in this episode. In the opening, Bob is speaking to his patient Mrs. Harold, and later he speaks to the airline reservations clerk.

This episode not only has the first appearances of the five main characters, but also features the first appearances of the recurring characters Mr. Carlin, Mrs. Bakerman, Mr. Gianelli, and Emily's friend Margaret.

Fly the Unfriendly Skies was not the pilot episode that was filmed for the pitch to CBS. P-I-L-O-T is the actual pilot episode, but it didn't air on television until a third of the way through the first season.


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Behind the scenesEdit

The episode's title is a play off of United Airlines' company slogan "fly the friendly skies".

Actress Penny Marshall played the role of The Stewardess in this episode, four years before starring in her hit TV series Laverne & Shirley. This marks the first time a famous actor/actress appeared in The Bob Newhart Show as a "one-episode" character before they became famous. Others include John Ritter, Henry Winkler and Fred Willard.