Sky King – a surprising role model

I wrote an earlier post, Meanwhile, back at the ranch,  about the Sky King radio show and its secret decoder rings.

I recently discovered that there is much more to the Sky King saga. Many baby boomers became pilots because of the lasting influence of Sky King and his Cessna named Songbird.

It probably isn’t so surprising because the flying rancher and his team fought crime in high-tech style. He flew a twin-engine plane and used two-way radio equipment to outwit and overcome the bad guys. He was a western hero of the future in many respects and this captured the imagination of his youthful audience.

There were four radio Sky Kings including Jack Lester and the announcer was a fellow named Mike Wallace, who went on to become famous in his own right.

The TV version of Sky King starred Kirby Grant as Sky with Gloria Winters as Penny.

There is a treasure trove of Sky King material on Kent Volgamore’s Kay Vee’s place including DVDs and pictures. The pictures shown here are just a preview of those on Kent’s site.

Be sure and check out the testimonials from the men and women who became military, commercial, and private pilots as result of listening to Sky King and Penny on the radio or watching them on TV.

This poem by Jim Dilly captures the spirit of what Sky King meant to these people.

by Jim Dilly

My heroes have always been cowboys and they all carried guns-
and they all rode horses-that is all but one.

When he went to the rescue he flew a Cessna plane.
His ranch was called the "Flying Crown" and "Sky King" was his name.

Like all cowboys of his time he always fought for right,
and watching him there on TV lead many of us to flight.

Every Saturday morning our hero would arrive with a pair of roaring engines
out of the clear blue western skies.
Many lives were touched by this TV man
and many of the pilots today are pilots because of him.

We need a hero like him more now than we did then,
but unfortunately they quit making heroes like him.

What a splendid legacy! I am sure there are more examples like this. Can any of you readers recall being inspired to embark on a career because of a radio or TV series?


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0 Responses to Sky King – a surprising role model

  1. It’s been a long time since I’ve even heard the name Sky King, although I use to watch him every Saturday morning, ah, a few years ago.

    But it made me think of the old series, “Lost in Space” that made me want to travel the universe, with the robot of course. I better go, things are getting a little nostalgic here.

  2. Clarence says:

    Mr. Wizard was one of my favorites. His program inspired me to always look a little deeper at everything. Science was always interesting to me but he made it fun to learn about the world around me.

  3. Dave:

    I met Kirby Grant in 1984 in Washington. He worked a lot with NASA to promote flying and the space program although he could no longer fly a plane himself because of his health. His love of flying was infectious.

    He often attended launches of the space shuttle. He died in 1985 in a car crash while on his way to Cape Canaveral as an invited guest to watch the launch of the Challenger, the day seven astronauts died when the spacecraft exploded. In retrospect, he probably would have preferred to miss that launch.

  4. GBGames says:

    Clarence, I also loved Mr Wizard. I watched it when I was a child, and it was always fun to experiment and find out that part of science was making educated guesses and being proven wrong. B-)

  5. Ray Roberts says:

    I remember Sky King and his Cessna twin
    flying all over the sky. I was moved to
    become a twin pilot in the late seventies.
    I have since flown for 30 years with five
    advanced jet ratings and one around the
    world trip in a Learjet. I have landed in
    most countries and flown over the ocean
    more than a hundred times. I have flown
    accross the Pacific and landed on American
    Samoa and Guam and New Guinee and Austrailia. I have flown over hurricanes
    and crossed the US in 5 hours coast to coast. I have taken off in California and landed in New Orleans for lunch and Atlantic City for dinner on the same day.
    I have flown over North Vietnam where my
    father flew fighters and have landed in
    Hong Kong harbor and Taiwan. I have flown
    presidents and rock bands and movie stars.
    I have carried relief medicines to the Amazon basin and the mountains of Peru.
    I have built airports in Alaska and landed
    in Tokyo and Hawaii. Yes Sky King had it
    right. I encourage all little girls and boys to watch his classic shows and dream
    about flying.

  6. Sky King? Geeeze I’m an old fart. SK is why I wore Wellington Boots for a while.

  7. I always watched the Mister Wizard thing. was that somehow tied into Rocky and Bullwinkle?

  8. Joey says:

    :)Sky king it is. Man, it takes me back to good old time when I was a kid and it also makes me feel like an old fart. :):)

  9. Sky Starbird says:

    Sky King was a favorite of my mother. That’s how I ended up with the first name. I was born in 1960, and I always wanted to be a pilot or even more, an astronaut. But it wasn’t to be. However, I did become Army Airborne, and I’m proud of that.

  10. Business Coach says:

    You may believe these four proverbs:
    He who has never hoped can never despair.
    Life is measured by thought and action, not by time.
    No man is useless in this world who lightens the burden of someone else.
    The value of life lies not in the length of days, but in the use we make of them.

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