1 9 5 1 – 1 9 5 4 (USA)
72 x 30 minute episodes
This popular live-action series was set on the Flying Crown Ranch in Arizona, home of wealthy pilot/rancher Skylar J. ‘Sky’ King, and his niece and nephew, Penny and Clipper.
The trio used Sky’s twin-engine Cessna, the Songbird, to survey the large ranch.
Up in the sky, the Kings would inadvertently stumble on a trapped neighbour or an escaped fugitive and help the good guys – including Mitch the Sheriff (Ewing Mitchell) – while stopping the bad.
Sky King was essentially a modernised Western – an update of a genre that was quite popular at the time – with the hero flying a plane instead of riding the usual horse. While much of the action took place on the ground, approximately six minutes of each episode consisted of matched black and white aerial footage.
Sky King began as a popular radio show on the ABC network before finding success as a television programme, one of the few shows to air on NBC, ABC and CBS.
The only original network season was the first, on NBC’s Sunday evening schedule from 1951-52.
These episodes were rebroadcast on ABC’s Saturday morning line-up the following year, and new episodes were produced when the show went into syndication in 1955.
CBS returned the property to Saturday morning for a successful run from 1959-66, consisting entirely of repeats.
The aerial photography in the series was provided by Paul Mantz, an aviator, instructor and one-time advisor to the famous woman pilot Amelia Earhart.