"Pilot" is the first episode from Season 1 of Timeless. It premiered on October 3, 2016.



When a time machine is stolen by a criminal mercenary named Garcia Flynn, a team is quickly assembled to stop him. Consisting of Lucy Preston, a history professor, Wyatt Logan, a soldier, and Rufus Carlin, a technician, this team is sent after Flynn using an earlier prototype of the time machine. The trio's first trip sends them back to May 6, 1937, the date of the Hindenburg disaster.


The pilot begins in 1937, on the day of the Hindenburg disaster. The scene opens as the dirigible prepares to land. However, a stray spark ignites a fire within the ship's infrastructure, causing it to crash.

Cut to Lucy Preston in the present, doing a lecture on Lyndon B. Johnson. A man takes Lucy outside after the lecture and informs her that her tenure was denied. Lucy gets angry, as she is keen to follow in the footsteps of her mother, a famous historian, and goes home.

Once there, Lucy calls for her sister Amy, who is looking after their sick mother. Noting that her mother is unresponsive, Lucy puts a Snickers bar onto the nightstand beside the bed, before asking how she is doing. Amy starts a conversation with Lucy, telling her that she shouldn't worry about disappointing her mother, and that she should make her own future.

The Mission

Flynn's Agenda

  • Flynn's plan is to prevent the original Hindenburg disaster from happening, then to plant a time bomb aboard the vessel and detonate it on its trip back to Europe, killing several dignitaries including as John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Omar Bradley, and Igor Sikorsky. Without them, the United Nations might not be formed, the course of the D-Day invasion might have been different under Gen. George Patton, and the helicopter might not be invented.

Changes to the Timeline

  • All passengers of the Hindenburg survive a different disaster, which is reported to have been caused by terrorists known as the Anarchist Black Cross.
  • Only two deaths occur: Kate Drummond and one of Flynn's henchmen, Stiv (who is unidentified because his remains are too badly burned).
  • Among the surviving passengers is Irene Doehner (1923-1997), whose granddaughter would marry Henry Wallace. Because of this, Wallace would never meet Carolyn Preston; furthermore, Carolyn would not develop lung cancer, as her breakup with Wallace in the original timeline caused her to go on a smoking binge. Consequently, Amy Preston would not be born; this also suggests that Wallace was not Lucy's biological father.
  • Lucy discovers that she is engaged to a man named Noah, with whom she has apparently had a relationship for several years.

Guest Cast

Historical Events and Figures

The episode features the crash of the German airship Hindenburg, which was arriving at NAS Lakehurst, Manchester Township, New Jersey after its first cross-Atlantic flight. Thirteen passengers and 22 crew members, along with one person on the ground were killed in the crash. A number of theories as to why it caught fire and crashed have been put forward, although none have been established as the cause.

Included in the episode is the famous eyewitness commentary from radio station WLS reporter Herbert Morrison :

Oh it's... [unintelligible] its flames... Crashing, oh! Four- or five-hundred feet into the sky and it... it's a terrific crash, ladies and gentlemen. It's smoke, and it's in flames now; and the frame is crashing to the ground, not quite to the mooring mast. Oh, the humanity!

The crash of the Hindenburg brought an end to the airship era, and contributed to the growth of the aviation industry.



  • Two young boys on the Hindenburg, possibly Walter and Werner Doehner, are shown to have long hair, a length that would have been unacceptable in 1937.
  • The Hindenburg was indeed equipped with a lightweight aluminum piano that was manufactured by Julius Blüthner Pianofortefabrik, but only for the 1936 season as it was removed the following year to save weight, thus the piano in reality survived the crash. Two earlier motion picture depictions about the disaster; a 1975 box office blockbuster distributed by Universal Pictures and a two-part miniseries released in 2011 by the German television network RTL; also repeat this mistake.

Episode Notes

  • The episode uses the static spark theory as the cause of the Hindenburg explosion. Other theories to the cause of the explosion include sabotage, lightning, and engine failure. Until now, the real cause is unknown.
  • Kate Drummond is a fictional character.
  • Roosevelt is a famous New York family, which includes Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt, as well as Brigadier General Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt, Jr., who saw distinguished service at Utah Beach on D-Day in 1944, and was Governor General of the Philippines.


  • A running joke throughout this episode is a security camera photo of Flynn wearing a jumpsuit. When shown the photo, people in 1937 ask why he is wearing pajamas.
  • When Lucy and Wyatt approach Commander Rosendahl, they introduce themselves as "Nurse Jackie" and "Dr. Dre" from "General Hospital". Nurse Jackie is a medical comedy-drama series on Showtime that ran from 2009 to 2015. General Hospital is an ongoing ABC soap opera that has been on the air since 1963.


  • "Mess Around" by Cage the Elephant (2015)
  • "Eeny Meeny Miney Mo" by Teddy Wilson and His Orchestra featuring Billie Holiday (1935)
  • "Wish You Were Here" by Audrey Assad (2012)
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.