arts

Out Of the Clear Blue Of The Western Sky...

Comes Sky King!

Sky King and PennyIn the 1940's and 1950's Sky King was a radio and television adventure series. Schuyler (Skyler) King was an Arizona rancher and aircraft pilot living on the Flying Crown Ranch in the town of Grover, Arizona.

The show had strong cowboy elements and Sky always captured criminals, spies and also helped lost hikers in his plane.

Songbird was the name of his aircraft. In the beginning of the series, Sky flew a Cessna T-50, owned by the star who was a pilot in real life. The plane was made out of wood and became unsafe to fly and was replaced.

Sky King's niece Penny and sometimes his nephew Clipper also lived on the ranch. Penny and Clipper were pilots too, but somewhat inexperienced. Penny raced planes and Sky trusted her to fly Songbird. Now, I find that highly unfair. As you read in my Camero post, being the aspiring racer I was, my dad would not let me use his car and I am positive a plane would have been out of the question.

In the show, Kirby Grant played Sky King, Gloria Winters as Penny and Ron Hagerty was Clipper. Like most cowboy hero's, Sky never killed the bad guys. It was largely a show for kids, but became an icon for the aviator community. Many pilots, growing up were influenced by the show.

Sky King and SherrifOne memorable feature of the series was Penny's radio calls from the ranch. She always said, "Flying Crown to Songbird, Flying Crown to Songbird, Come in Uncle Sky."

A unique introduction to the show featured the triangular Nabisco logo flying across the screen. Nabisco put plastic characters of the series in packages of Wheat and Rice Honey's.

The series was filmed in the high desert of California. It was expensive for a kids show because most of the budget went into the aircraft shots and vehicles. The show features low level flying, a way to show the speed of the plane as the desert flashed by.

In my search for Sky King, I came across the very cool American Flyers web site where you can watch all the episodes of this series. Check it out and relive the sense of wonder you had for flying cowboys.

Joyce Welling believes that once a hippie, always a hippie. She continues to be on a magical mystery tour and writes the blog I Am A Boomer, where she frequently dips into the pool of our collective nostalgia.

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