September 16, 1951 - March 8, 1959
Many of the storylines would parallel those used in such dramatic potboilers as Adventures of Superman with the supporting cast repeatedly finding themselves in near death situations and the hero rescuing them with seconds to spare. Penny was particularly adroit at falling into the hands of spies, bank robbers (the best place to hide stolen loot was apparently in the Arizona desert) and other n'er-do-wells. After taunting the doomed Penny and mocking her uncle, they would invariably leave her tied up at the bottom of an abandoned mine with (take your pick) a ticking timebomb, rapidly rising water, collapsing ceilings, or crackling flames licking at her chair. Inexplicably, the bad guys would leave Penny in easy reach of a radio transmitter that would not only be turned on but switched to the frequency used by Uncle Sky who at that very moment would be circling above in the Songbird with an anxious Clipper at his side. Working the device with her shoulders and tongue, Penny would shout out "Help, Uncle Sky, Help Help!" Sky would shoot a quizzical look to Clipper and proclaim, "That's Penny!! And it sounds like she's in trouble!" Uncle Sky would make a steep bank and fly over the bad guys who would be instantly thrown into a state of complete confusion. All looking upward in complete anguish and fear, they would fire up at the Songbird in vain before losing control of their escape vehicle and plowing into a culvert where, through another set of incredible circumstances, Sheriff Mitch would be waiting for them after being alerted by Uncle Sky. The action would then cut back to the ranch where the happy throng is reunited without any explanation about how they found Penny and got down the mine without all of them getting killed. It was never explained why anyone would have an FAA spec radio transmitter at the bottom of an abandoned mine or how it would work 300 feet underground but such was the glory of imagination in the mid fifties!
Like most TV cowboy heroes of the time, Sky never killed the bad guys, even though one episode had him shooting a machinegun into his own stolen plane.
Largely a show for kids, although it sometimes aired in primetime, Sky King became an icon in the aviation community. Many pilots (including American astronauts) who grew up watching Sky King name him as an influence.