Whirlybirds (TV Series 1957–1960) Poster


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Whirlybirds Was The Best!
oniowa126 January 2005
"The Whirlybirds" TV show got more guys interested in flying helicopters than any other show! The Bell 47 was used in the first episodes, to be followed by the Bell 47J later. Kenneth Tobey and Craig Hill were excellent in the roles of Chuck Martin and P.T. Moore. They would always use a copter to save lives, solve crimes, or take care of business. This is one series I would LOVE to see on DVD! An awful lot of pilots would buy them as fast as they could make them, if they were of good quality! It was so much fun to watch the boys get in and out of one scrape after another. You knew they weren't the real pilots, but it was fun and games anyway!
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The helicopter was the star of this adventure series.
yenlo11 August 1999
A great show that was syndicated. Two guys run a Helicopter company (and of course have a good looking secretary) and help out the police, firefighters, Army etc, whenever they can. Which of course was every episode. They were either tracking escaped criminals or rescuing some bonehead who had gotten themselves stranded out in the middle of nowhere. Each episode managed to let the viewer know that the Helicopter was really the shows star. When this show was being run every helicopter pilot around must have thought "How come I never have any adventures like those Whirlybird guys" Blue Thunder and Airwolf came years later and featured helos but never seemed to match the magic of this late 50's gem.
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Saturday Morning Action
This late 50's series was repeated in the 70's over here in the U.K and my Brother and I were addicted to it (as addicted to Champion The Wonder Horse!).

Many an hour was spent "being the Whirlybirds" and wishing that we had a Helicopter and got up to the same "daring do's" that the two leads in the series did.

I remember the series well and would love to see at least just one episode again to see if it was a fun as I remember. But it may be best that I dont, endless shots of the copter and some chump stuck up to his waist in mud may not have the same "exciting" look as they did when I was 6, but you never know
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Memorable 'chopper' reminiscent of M*A*S*H
John (opsbooks)8 April 2003
Okay, it wasn't the exact same 'chopper' that appeared in M*A*S*H but that's what started me watching the latter classic. Good theme which I would like to hear again, almost as good as 'Cannonball'. Two likeable actors but I can't really remember much else. Ah, those were the days; take me back to 1959. TV evenings in Sydney would bring you some classic Westerns plus 'Whirlybirds' and of course 'Sea Hunt'.
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The Old and New Whirlybirds and trivia on the show
NewWhirlybirds18 January 2006
On behalf of The New Whirlybirds I thank you for your loyalty to this premium action series. Introducing the star of the show, the Bell 47, and creating diverse plots were the reasons why many like Danny and I chose to become helicopter pilots. As one of our friends said to Ken Tobey when he graciously appeared (Craig Hill moved to Spain and does not care to be involved in any recollection of the series he is actively involved in TV there) at our 2001 Bell 47 Fly and took his ride in The New Whirlybirds' helicopter N9FK, "Although the actors were not pilots, they were pilots to their fans." I encourage all fans to support this show through the mission that The New Whirlybirds have taken to pay tribute to their efforts. Trivia: Original Whirlybirds Director Bruce Bilson introduced The New Whirlybirds in 2003 at L.A. Bell Helicopter sponsors their appearances to remind people of The Bell 47 - The helicopter that saved so many lives. Trivia: Helicopters used were a Bell 47 G - G2 - Ranger J model. Trivia: Everything was done with hand signals - no radios. Trivia: Director Robert Altman got his start on the show and is one of the reasons why it was so well organized. Trivia. The main pilot of the show was Bob Gilbreath who tragically died in an helicopter accident shortly after the show.
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How many ways can a helicopter come to the rescue?
Geoff3 June 2006
I remember sitting on my father's lap while watching Whirleybirds in the late '50s. I suspect that I saw every episode, however, as I was so young at the time, the details have long since faded from my memory. What I do recall is my total fascination with the Bell helicopters that were used to accomplish such daring do and my father's lament that Hiller helicopters never seemed to appear in the series. (He had worked for Stanley Hiller as a project engineer in San Carlos, CA.) I'm sure the plots were naive and the characterizations were shallow, but for a 1950's geeky kid who also watched Mr. Wizard, it was heaven for the imagination.
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Like Emergency! in a helicopter
calvinnme11 December 2010
Of course, my high score may be distorted through the lens of childhood nostalgia since I haven't seen this series since I used to watch it after school back in the 60's, but it seems like it could have been at least part of the inspiration for "Emergency!" which ran in the 1970's. Of course, Emergency! was a TV series about two paramedics, friends as well as colleagues, that respond to all sorts of emergencies back when the paramedic program was in its infancy. Whirlybirds was about two helicopter pilots, friends as well as colleagues, who respond to all kinds of emergencies when the helicopter was first being used for difficult rescues and the tracking and pursuit of criminals.

If this ever came out on DVD I'd buy the entire series in a moment. From what I remember it was not repetitive at all with all kinds of people in distress in all types of situations being rescued by these guys. Plus they were very effective at chasing the bad guys with their "birds' eye view". Highly recommended and fondly remembered.
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The Whirlybirds
misterbill9300118 January 2006
I am totally a loyal fan of this particular TV series. Like one other person expressed on this website, I wish there was a DVD collection of every episode ever produced. As an aviation buff, I can appreciate the use of the two Bell helicopters used in the series. Any other series that followed including Chopper One and Airwolf came in second and third as far as I am concerned. One contributor noted that Craig Hill had moved to Spain to pursue his acting career. I had not known that and makes a lot of sense considering his roles he has undertaken since the demise of the Whirlybirds. Kenneth Tobey was a gifted actor and could play anything from drama to comedies. He is truly missed. I hope one to find a complete collection of this memorable series.
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A Favorite Childhood Memory
rusher-323 September 2007
Having just read all the previous comments on this show, there is not a whole lot I can add, except to say that I remember vividly the day that WPIX TV in New York (Channel 11) debuted this show, complete with a contest (hosted by "Officer Joe Bolton" -- I never quite got how a police officer figure into the equation, but then, I was just a kid) where the winner would receive a remote-controlled model helicopter. During the commercial breaks, "Officer Joe" would conduct demonstrations of the prize. Some kid would come on stage and operate a tethered remote control helicopter, and you would hear the sound of the real Bell helicopter in the background. I remember thinking how cool that was, and I remember my mom telling me how fake the sound was. Fifties TV at its very best (smile).
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Are they ever going to release 'Whirleybirds' on video?
tocahema27 June 2001
I watched every episode every Friday night when it aired back in the mid 50's and loved every episode. I wonder why this series has never been released on video. I for one would buy every episode, that is how much I loved the 'Whirlybirds'. I've been hoping they would show them on Nick at Night. No such luck though. There has never been a TV series as great as the 'Whirlybirds'.
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Anyone else remember?
brascioli10 September 2009
The episode that I remember best involved a gorilla that was loose. I don't remember if it was a runaway from a traveling circus or zoo or carnival or what but as a child watching re-runs, I guess on Saturday morning at a friend's house, I remember that it really seemed real to me then! When the big net captured the gorilla and the chopper took off with it, I thought that was the coolest thing ever! I wish I could remember more of the episodes, but that was a lot of years ago. That little chopper sure seemed high-tech and interesting back then! I also would buy a copy of the TV series if it was available on DVD! TV Land... if you are listening, here is a show for you to promote!
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Whirleybirds Made Me Fall in Love-- With Helicopters
drflyingfox13 June 2008
N975B and N238B. Mere meaningless numbers to most people, but forever burned in to my brain as the "N" FAA registration numbers painted on the sides of the two helicopters that starred in the Whirleybirds TV series of the late 50's. The Bell 47G with the bubble canopy and the Bell Ranger with the front-sitting pilot and three pax behind him became the quintissential vertical flying machines of the day. This show is such a classic black and white icon of its time, it's hard to understand why he haven't seen it since. Where are Sky King, Sea Hunt and My Favorite Martian (where Mrs. Brown baked brownies)? Yet we have been inundated with re-runs of I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners and the Dick Van Dyke Show. I grew up with Whirleybirds, salivated over every episode while eating mac-n-cheese and orange pop, and wanted to cry when it was over. I took one helicopter flying lesson and then learned how expensive these machines are to operate. If somebody would bring back a high-quality DVD series of this show, here is my credit card number...
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'Whirlybirds' - a tightly written series, & even today - the best helicopter flying ever filmed!
Corfman15 July 2007
As a savvy producer, I am grateful to Lucile Ball (Desilu) for two television production's she risked on, notably the original 'Star Trek', and 'Whirlybirds' among others.

'Whirlybirds' as a concept resulted originally from an 'I Love Lucy' (episode-140 "Bon Voyage") aired on CBS January 16, 1956, in which Lucy misses the sailing of her transatlantic ocean liner and commandeers a friendly Bell 47 helicopter to fly her out to the ship. Desilu Studios, duly intrigued by the Model 47 and its makers, began discussions with Bell Helicopters about how the entertainment potential of the Bell Model 47 might be further developed for a television audience.

'Whirlybirds' propelled the Bell 47's look and sound to popular attention in the late 1950s. Kenneth Tobey and Craig Hill starred as 47 pilots Chuck Martin and P.T. Moore, who flew off into diverse adventures from their base at Whirlybirds Inc., in mythical Longwood Field, California.

Tight scripting, pioneering location camera work at the old San Bernardino Airport and Republic Studio's Iverson Ranch supported the flying skills of National Helicopter pilots Bob Gilbreath, Harry Hauss, and Ed Fuderich. Together these airmen showcased the ability and utility of the 47G & 47 J models over 111 half-hour episodes. Some 39 episodes of the series were re-syndicated by CBS during 1958 under the name Copter Patrol. The Museum of Television and Radio in New York City houses a selection of Whirlybirds reference material, and a comprehensive set of episodes is on hand at the Library of Congress in Washington (16mm film). Excellent location and action visuals from the Whirlybirds set are now available for viewing at the National Helicopter WEB Site. I purchased from National Helicopter several of the actual television shows on VHS video tape. They brought back fond memories and are very exciting still to watch today. Entertaining Kenneth Tobey as no nonsense character Chuck Martin in those cool aviator shades!

I selected episodes that highlighted the flying skills of the National Helicopter pilots. The helicopter flying skills shown are simply the very best stunt flying by helicopter ever done before or since! In 'Cycle of Terror' - Episode 29) flying in tight ravines more remembered for the countless western chases on horseback filmed there (Iverson Ranch) - the rotors between rock outcrops and trees while chasing the villain on motorcycle is still outstanding & truly incredible. The landing skids of the copter used to knock the cyclist off his bike! Stunts likely prohibited by any studio insurance today.

Overlooked perhaps then by both dazzled kids and adults when seen today are the little charming slight of hands in production - as in 'Infrared' Episode 53, a Bell 47 J lands in a field before the camera, the National helicopter pilot climbs out of his front seat and slips down to the cockpit floor behind, and then it is actor Craig Hill seen exiting. A hint of the charming production values of those times.

Among many of the best episodes were some directed by an up & coming Robert Altman, who would later use the Bell 47's again in his film he is most remembered for among many others - M.A.S.H.. Not surprising perhaps, in 1984, a Bell 47 was put on display (as an art form) at none other than New York's Museum of Modern Art.

God I love this show. Sleeping Viacom could make a lot of money re-releasing these entertaining programs. I would purchase video disks of the entire series in a heartbeat! A baby boomer's fondest memories of his childhood in front of the television screen.

Release 'Whirlybirds' on DVD damnit!

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Highly underrated series
loneagle-130 December 2006
When we were kids, Whirlybirds was an "appointment watching" show. We had to drop everything to watch Craig Stevens and the rest of the cast tackle the day's events. I dreamed of being a helicopter pilot, my cousin eventually went to work for the Bell Helicopter plant outside of Amarillo in the 1970s. And, like others on the IMDb site, I'm amazed this series, and others like "Cannonball, "Highway Patrol," "Surfside 77,"The Real McCoys," and such haven't found a home on some cable channel. Vintage programming like these have some superb casts, adequate writing, good photography and great entertainment. I miss the days of black and white TV. "Whirlybirds" was a part of my childhood, as it was for my husband. He's in the industry, too, and misses working with B/W TV. Perhaps the folks who own the copyrights to the shows will bend a little and release the seasons on DVD. They make great learning tools for aspiring screenwriters, filmmakers, cinematographers and directors/producers.
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TV addicts.TV.com
louiejay51 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Because of Whirlybirds TV show I dreamed of being a helicopter pilot just like Chuck & PT.Well that dream came true and I did become a commercial helicopter pilot.I have always wanted to watch Whirlybirds again on TV and had to go to the Radio & TV Broadcast Museum in NYC to view a couple of episodes.Well my wish again came true when I found a web site that had for sale all 111 episodes of Whirlybirds.They also had many other classic TV show DVD's for sale.Well for $79.95 plus $20.00 shipping I ordered Whirlybirds and gave my credit card info.For 3 weeks kept getting e-mails about how Whirlybirdes is out of stock and should be shipping soon.Well the day finally comes and the pack with 5 DVD's arrives.Of course I do not check the complete package but figured the 5 DVD's had all 111 episodes compressed on them.So occasionally I would watch an episode and I get to the 3rd DVD and it has 5 episodes of the TV show China Beach on it.Then I decided to check the rest of the discs.Out of the 5 which 1 had China Beach there was 7 episodes of Whirlybirds each on 4 discs.I called the customer service number and negotiated a return of $60.00 and I keep the DVD's.I have not received my refund and the customer service number is disconnected.So this is to warn my fellow Whirlybird lovers not to get burned like I did.
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Loved the sound!
shalomx7029 June 2006
I loved the sound of the helicopter! From watching the show, one of my dreams was to fly in a helicopter. Finally, last year I flew in one over the Grand Canyon! It was fantastic!!!!! grew up in the States and am now living in Australia. I wonder how many of my favorite shows when I was a child are on Cable TV? Other shows I watched? Cannonball, Champion the Wonder Horse, Fury, Annie Oakley, Sky King, Rin Tin Tin, Mickey Mouse Club, Howdey Dowdey, My Friend Flicka (but it wasn't as good as Champion and Fury)Sea Hunt, (for awhile we didn't have a TV and I'd listen to shows from my bedroom window. Try figuring out what was happening while listening to Sea Hunt!!!!) Wagon Train and later on Bonanza. (Ah, Little Joe!!!)
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Terrific children's show
kzberge23 September 1999
I enjoyed the show as a child. My parents and siblings sat around everyday looking forward to watching the show. I think this is something we miss out on today. I would very much like to see reruns of this program. I have wondered why it has not made it back to the reruns or TV Land or something. Sure would like to watch it again. I believe there are enough shows that reruns could be new again. This is one I would like to see again. I would like to know what happened to Craig Hill that played P. T. Morgan. I thought he was so handsome.
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ed-ryba26 August 2016
There's no way I can top Corfman's review above, so I'm not even going to try. That review already says absolutely everything I wanted to say. So instead, I WILL use this space to ask one simple question: WHAT ON EARTH IS THE MATTER WITH THE IDIOTS AT VIACOM? Aren't you Bozos a BUSINESS? And don't BUSINESSES exist to MAKE MONEY??

Viacom OWNS Paramount, the successor to Desilu Productions, and just happens to OWN CBS, the TV network where "Whirlybirds" made its debut. So I shall ask as loudly as I can: WHICH OF YOU JERK-MEATS IN THE HOME-VIDEO DIVISION IS ASLEEP AT THE SWITCH? Why isn't there a DVD or Blu-Ray box set of ALL 111 "Whirlybirds" shows? If you BONEHEADS would just bother to read everything on this page and the previous one, YOU (or someone who can read them to you) SHOULD be able to figure out that the first run of copies would sell out almost INSTANTLY!!!!!!!

Get the picture? Just go back to the original 35mm negatives, strike new prints, digitally restore them, make up a spiffy-looking package, and then get ready to make money hand over fist!
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