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"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!
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'.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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'.
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).
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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