Kenneth Tobey and Craig Hill
in 1957 and continued until 1959 with a total of 111 episodes. The show
was conceived and produced by Desilu Studios and made a star out of the
Bell 47 helicopter, with its daring rescues in the half-hour
episodes. CBS syndicated 39 episodes of the series, but renamed it
Patrol. Whirlybirds was a highly successful series with an estimated audience of
25 million viewers, this was a phenomenal audience in the 1950s.
The two pilots Chuck Martin (Kenneth Tobey) and P.T. Moore
(Craig Hill) proved to be more than
able to deal with any crisis which they might face in each week's
story. The storylines usually consisted of the airborne duo
natural disaster, villiany or human ineptitude.
Kenneth Tobey and Craig Hill in the
For the first
four episodes of Whirlybirds, the helicopters were supplied by
Bell Helicopters to Desilu Studios free of charge. At this early
in the production, Desilu was uncertain if the show would be
successful. Once the show proved itself with viewers, Bell
told Desilu they could no longer offer their services free, as they
would be competing with their operators.
Helicopters, being the largest operator of Bell helicopters, and having
already worked for Desilu got the job. National Helicopters
the series throughout the next 107 episodes supplying the helicopters,
pilots, expertise and accessories for all the aerial portions of the
series. Listen to the theme tune for Whirlybirds.
Our thanks to Richard
Hart of The
National Helicopter Service for images and information.
Richard Hart 1925-2011
All images copyright
© National Helicopter Service