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Flying With Sky King

By Chuck Morrow, EAA 395699

  • Flying With Sky King
    Photo credit: Lee Ann Abrams

March 17, 2016 - In the 1950s the radio-turned-TV show Sky King, starring Kirby Grant in the title role, aired every Saturday morning. Title character King’s first airplane was a Cessna T-50, but in later episodes he flew the better-known Cessna 310. I watched it religiously for several years as a kid, and King was my hero. The beautiful twin-engine Cessna 310 would swoop down over his ranch runway, just making my day.

Later in life, I had the good fortune of working for Cessna Marketing in Kansas. One of my jobs was to help prepare photos of new models for presentation to Cessna dealers during the annual sales meetings. At one time, I was flying a new Cessna 310, tight behind the camera airplane, which was a Cessna 210. The photographer kept asking me to get closer. I was trying, but if that camera airplane slowed at all, I'd eat him for lunch. It was that tight.

My passenger was older and far more experienced, and was now producing commercials for Cessna. He asked me if I'd like him to take it on in tight for the photo. I agreed for sure, and gave him the airplane.

We gave the photographer what he wanted, backed off, and the airplane was mine again.

I didn’t find out until later just who my copilot was on that flight. As it turned out, he was the pilot that Cessna had loaned to Hollywood for flying the Sky King action moves. He, not the actor Kirby Grant, was the guy I had really worshiped every Saturday morning.

During that Cessna photo mission that day in Kansas, Sky King was right there with me. And, just as he had countless times on radio and television, he saved the day.

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