L-r: Red, Mugs and Cap.


Original Medium: TV animation
Produced by: Pantomime Pictures
First Appeared: 1969
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In the early 1960s, Saturday morning cartoons were mostly about funny stuff. By the end of the decade, they'd generally switched to adventure. The superheroes, like Birdman and Super President, are perhaps most vividly remembered, but other genres were there as well. Skyhawks was old-fashioned aviation …

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… adventure, like Clutch Cargo had been a decade or so earlier, and TaleSpin would be a couple of decades later, despite the fact that aviation adventure had had its heyday back in the days of Bruce Gentry and Barney Baxter.

The Skyhawks, whose show started September 6, 1969 on ABC, were a team of adventurers with family ties, like Power Pack, The Chan Clan and The Fantastic Four. That, plus the fact that what they did took a great deal of skill, made the theme song, which repeatedly urged viewers to "Be a Skyhawk!" and therefore sounded like a wide-open recruitment drive, seem to work at cross purposes to the character of the series.

The senior member of the "daredevil air transport rescue service", as publicity materials described it, was "Pappy" Wilson, who had earned his wings as a World War I ace. The team leader was his son Mike, called "Cap", whose piloting experience included the other World War, in which he'd achieved the rank of colonel. Then there were a bunch of kids — Cap's 17-year-old twins, Steve and Carolyn Wilson; and Pappy's foster kids, Baron "Red" and Cynthia "Mugs" Hughes (14 and 9 years old respectively).

The good guys were rounded out with Cap's girlfriend Maggie McNally (the twins' mom was conveniently dead before the series opened) and their mechanic, Joe Connally. They also had an unscrupulous competitor, Buck Devlin, whose crew was equally skilled. They all operated out of the same airport, San Marcos Field.

Skyhawks was produced by Pantomime Pictures, which had earlier had a hand in Roger Ramjet. Cap's voice was done by Michael Rye (also heard in Fluppy Dogs and Gummi Bears). Pappy was Dick Curtis (who lacks other voice credits, but did have live roles in filmed versions of Batman and Red Ryder). Buck was Bob Arbogast (whose credits include roles on Galtar & the Golden Lance and Monchhichis). Joe was Casey Kasem (Shaggy on Scooby Doo, Robin in Super Friends).

The show lasted a couple of years, which was about average for Saturday morning at the time, but it didn't generate a huge bonanza in merchandising. There were 17 half-hour shows, each of which had two Skyhawks adventures. The last episode was aired on September 4, 1971. There have been very occasional reruns, but no spin-offs.


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Text ©2008 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Pantomime Pictures.