"Bugs in the flowers, Peeping Thomases at the window, pens that send messages. Oh, I need reviving."
— François Lemiare

"Alias Mr. Hackenbacker" is the third episode of Thunderbirds season 2, first broadcast on 16th October 1966.

On its maiden flight, a new airliner called Skythrust becomes the host of a fashion show for a world-renowned designer. Halfway through the trip, the plane is hijacked by rival designers who want to steal the revolutionary new fabric, so Brains reveals some unexpected features of the aircraft that bring the hijackers' plans to a halt.


At London Airport, several emergency vehicles are scrambled as a damaged plane comes in to land. The plane does not have any landing gear due to a malfunction, and crashes onto a runway.

The fire engines and ambulances arrive at the scene of the crash, but the plane explodes into a big fireball. It is revealed that this sequence was a film just shown, and Captain Saville says that it demonstrates the greatest danger of a plane crash: the fire hazard. However he thinks that they have found an answer to this problem in Skythrust, a new plane which they have done extensive tests on to make the safest jet around. He says they'll go up and meet the designer of Skythrust, Mr. Hiram K. Hackenbacker.

Mr. Hiram K. Hackenbacker is actually Brains. Brains is on his way to London airport, and arrives in time to meet with the others as the new Skythrust plane appears on a runway. Brains doesn't take all the credit for it though, as he says he only designed some of the features of the plane.

Controller Norman tells Captain Ashton that he can take off, and soon Skythrust is in the air. Everyone says that the plane looks great, and Norman says that it will most likely be in service in just a few days.

On Tracy Island, Scott reads an interview with Brains in a magazine, which is about the Skythrust, and how it has some revolutionary new features which Mr. Hackenbacker will not reveal to anyone yet. Jeff says that Skythrust must be going into operation soon, since Brains is staying in Europe for now. Scott says the first flight of the aircraft is meant to be from London to Paris. Speaking of Paris, Tin-Tin mentions a magazine she is reading, which has a story about how Penelope may be entering a charity fashion show in France, which will be presented by François Lemaire. Francois Lemaire is a famous fashion designer.

In Paris, Penelope has met with François, and says she will model for him at his fashion show. François is glad that she is and is about to reveal his big surprise he intends to tell everyone about at the fashion show, when Penelope stops him. She thinks the room is bugged, and pulls out a hairbrush which is also a scanner.

She uses the scanner to find the bug, which had been hidden in a flower pot. She then takes a look outside with François' telescope, and sees that a long range camera has been planted several buildings away. She shuts the door, but François says he will write down his secret and then pass her the piece of paper.

However, before he finishes his writing, Penelope asks to look at the pen. She opens it up and finds that it is bugged also -the pen has a special feature which lets it copy whatever the writer puts down on paper and send it to someone else. Penelope writes the rest of the message. François finds it to be too much, so he asks for Madeline, his secretary, to bring in some tea whilst also asking Deirdre, one of his other models, to stand by to model some of the new items that arrived this morning.

He then finally reveals his secret to Penelope, and opens up a small box. Out of this tiny box, he pulls out an entire dress -this is his secret. It is a new fibre called Penelon, which he named after Penelope herself. This fibre can duplicate other fabrics, and can fold up so compactly yet clothes made out of it won't crease when they do.

Later on, Madeline brings some tea in, but Penelope discovers yet another bug -this time in one of the sugar cubes. François is at wits end, and doesn't think the show can go on at his studio, but Penelope has an idea. At London airport, Captain Saville is discussing with Norman and Brains that the final tests are complete, but then a call comes in for Mr. Hackenbacker. Brains just about remembers that him, and leaves the room to take it.

Brains answers the phone, and finds out that Penelope is the one calling him, who says she has an idea. Later on, Penelope has a meeting with Captain Ashton, one of the Skythrust pilots, in a restaurant. She wants to have the fashion show on Skythrust itself, but Ashton isn't so sure that is a good idea. A waiter then brings some tea over, but before either of them can pour it, Parker contacts Penelope and says that his scanner is telling him the teapot is bugged.

Penelope finds the bug and Ashton realises just how serious this fashion show is. He thinks they ought to move the location of it after all. Sometime later, Skythrust is out on a runway at a French airport. Ashton and the co-pilot received some good luck telegrams, including one from Mr. Hackenbacker. They wish he could be here for the first commercial flight of the plane, but he's in London already.

François arrives with Madeline and Deirdre in a car, which heads into Skythrust. Penelope is also on the way, but Parker is not going with her. He drops her off inside the plane, and she meets with François. He tells her that everything is ready.

Skythrust takes off. Back in London, Brains and Tin-Tin are at London airport to wait for Skythrust to arrive, but Brains just wants to check in at the control tower first. Back on the plane, the show has begun.

Everything runs smoothly, as Penelope, Deirdre and Madeline show off the news outfits. The audience is wowed by the designs, but also wowed with the Penelon fabric, seeing it as a revolution in the fashion world. In the cockpit, the pilots report to London airport that they are around 15 minutes away. Brains and Tin-Tin are in the airport's control tower, and one of the staff there states that they have Skythrust on their radar.

In Skythrust, everyone says how great the show was. Penelope says she had better go and get changed before they land, and as they go, Deirdre asks where Madeline got to. François says he hasn't seen her since the show ended. Madeline has actually gone to the cockpit, and has pulled out a gun! She tells Ashton and the co-pilot that their destination has changed, as they are now going to the Sahara desert -a place where they won't be disturbed. Madeline isn't alone, as Mason, one of the stewards, has also pulled out a gun and keeps the passengers at bay. He wants the outfits all boxed up again, as he and Madeline intend to take the entire collection. They'll make a lot of money if they sell it.

Skythrust changes course, and with Madeline not letting the pilots use the radio, things seem hopeless. But Penelope has a plan, and activates a hidden feature on her ring, which sends an emergency signal to Tracy Island.

The Tracy family receive the signal, and Jeff has Scott take off in Thunderbird 1 whilst Virgil and Alan blast off in Thunderbird 2. He then tells his sons that he'll try and contact Brains in London to find out what's up. Penelope's ring also acts as a transmitter, meaning that they can find out her location. Jeff tells them to let him know this as soon as they can.

Scott and Virgil figure out Penelope's position, and Jeff works out that it looks like she is on the way to the Sahara. He wonders why she'd be heading out there, but what he doesn't know is that at a small airport, some of Madeline and Mason's goons await with a van. Scott says he is 18 minutes away from Skythrust.

As they are nearing their destination, Madeline has the radio turned on so she can talk to her men on the ground. But who she actually gets is Scott. Scott requests they returned to London, but Madeline says no. Scott warns that they will have to take action to force the plane to return. Madeline says that International Rescue's job is to save lives, not put them at risk, and that he should go away. Meanwhile, at London airport, Brains contacts Virgil and informs him of a plan. He needs to take a shot at the undercarriage with a non-explosive missile. Virgil thinks it is risky, but Brains says he just needs to trust him.

Virgil makes a few passes, but Madeline isn't scared and threatens to shoot Ashton if the Thunderbirds don't go away. Virgil holds back, but gets under the plane's blind spot and then moves in closer. He gets the rockets ready, and Alan takes the shot. He hits the undercarriage, causing a malfunction.

The co-pilot checks it over and sees that they now have a fault. Ashton tells Madeline that the wheels on the plane will not activate, meaning they cannot land at such a small airport like the one they are going to. Madeline gets Mason to check it over, and Ashton goes over the situation with him. Ashton argues that they have a much better chance at a crash landing at London airport than in the Sahara. This plane is carrying a lot of fuel, if it explodes, there will be nothing left of them. At least there are the emergency services at London. Mason reluctantly agrees with his views, and soon Skythrust is heading back to London airport. What he isn't aware of is the Hackenbacker device -something Ashton and the co-pilot keep quiet about. The plane turns around.

Virgil and Alan let their father know that Skythrust is heading back to London. He has found out from Interpol that Mason and Madeline were heading to meet up with two other crooks called Ross and Collins, who are both wanted for murder, among other things. He suggests they go pay them a visit. Meanwhile Skythrust is 17 miles away from London airport. Ashton convinces Mason and Madeline to go and wait with the other passengers in the back of the plane, as it is the safest place to be. With them out of the way, he and the co-pilot are free to use the Hackenbacker device.

The plane reaches the runway, and does a crash landing. As it slides across the ground, the Hackenbacker device is activated, and part of the plane shoots off and goes up into the air. This is where all of the vehicle's fuel is stored.

Norman watches from the control tower and once the fuel pod reaches a safe distance, he has it destroyed. The pod explodes, but since it is so far up in the air, it causes no damage. Meanwhile Skythrust comes to a stop on the runway, and is clearly not in any danger of explode. Norman says that this ejectable fuel pod will revolutionize air safety.

Inside the plane, Penelope pulls out a gun and tells the cowering hijackers to just stay there and wait for the police. François asks about the hijacker's accomplices, but Penelope assures that they will be doubt with. In the desert, Ross and Collins are waiting around, when they see a plane heading their way.

The plane is Thunderbird 2, but as Virgil makes another pass, Alan shoots a rocket at the crook's van and destroys it, leaving the two guys stranded in the desert. Alan lets his father know that their mission has been accomplished.

In the control tower, Norman says this won't be a day they'll forget about in a hurry, and asks if Hackenbacker has anything else he'd like to say. Hackenbacker says he wants to go out to get something to eat! The rest of the crew and passengers agree, and Brains escorts Tin-Tin out of the tower.

Regular Voice CastEdit

Guest Voice CastEdit

Guest Cameo AppearancesEdit

International Rescue Equipment UsedEdit

Non-International Rescue Equipment UsedEdit


  • For subsequent half-hour 'cliffhanger' broadcasts, part one concluded with the white car boarding Skythrust's loading bay.
  • This episode features the biggest number of characters (in speaking roles) in any of the episodes and feature films.
  • Brains's security pass was signed by prop-maker Tony Dunsterville.
  • One of François's fashions is named "Alligator Attack", possibly named after the episode of a similar name.
  • The 1st reporter previously appeared as Frank Hooper in Atlantic Inferno.


Main article: Alias Mr. Hackenbacker/Transcript


  • When discussing champagne, Lady Penelope states how 1993 was the best year for the bubbly drink. However, given the passage of time on our side, it wasn't necessarily a good year at all.
    • That being said, 1993 was a very good year for the Thunderbirds franchise, as it (and other Anderson-related programs) underwent a vigorous resurgence in popularity around the world.
  • When the 1st reporter asks Saville "Have you found anything out with Skythrust?", he is voiced by Jeremy Wilkin. But when he says "Yeah, captain, make a statement." he is voiced by Paul Maxwell.

Foreign TitlesEdit

  • French: Un drôle de nom
  • German: Ein gewisser Mr. Hackenbacker
  • Spanish: Alias Sr. Hackenbacker
  • Italian: La sfilata di moda
  • Dutch: Alias Mr. Hackenbacker
  • Japanese: 恐怖の空中ファッションショー

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