Radio Range Riders by Boyd Magers

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Sky King logo.
by Boyd Magers

“Sky King”, America’s favorite flying cowboy, thrilled us on radio for eight years! “Sky King” was initially produced in Chicago by ABC as a 15 minute per episode weekday serial from October 28, 1946, to August 29, 1947. It was briefly sponsored by Swift but was mostly sustained by public service messages. Beginning on September 2, 1947, Sky flew for ABC in 30 minute standalone episodes twice or three times a week sharing a 5:30 timeslot by alternating with “Jack Armstrong” (and “Sea Hound” in the summer of ‘48). Sponsored by Peter Pan Peanut Butter the show ran through June 2, 1950, before moving over to Mutual from September 12, 1950, to June 3, 1954. Again sponsored by Peter Pan, Sky was on twice a week at 5:30.

Roy Engel, Earl Nightingale, Jack Lester.
Artspot by Bobb Lynes.Schuyler (Sky) King was an ex-Navy pilot and modern day Grover, AZ, rancher, owner of the Flying Crown Ranch. His palomino horse was named Yellow Fury and he owned two airplanes, the Songbird and the Flying Arrow. On radio the Songbird was equipped with machine guns and many of Sky’s adventures included flights to other continents for overseas thrills.

Sky was originally played in ‘46-‘47 by Roy Engel (1913-1980) and by Jack Lester (1915-2004) from ‘47-‘49, Earl Nightingale (1921-1989) from ‘50-‘53 and finally by Carlton Kadell (1904-1975) in ‘54. Nightingale became a well known motivational speaker and author of THE STRANGEST SECRET, one of the great motivational books of all time. Roy Engel (right) also had a lengthy movie and TV career from ‘43-‘77, usually playing authority
Roy Engel. figures. Sky’s niece Penny was played primarily by Beryl Vaughn and his nephew Clipper was voiced by Jack Bivens and Johnny Coons (1916-1975) who later worked as a voice actor on TV cartoons such as “Space Angel”, “Mr. Magoo” among others. Sky’s foreman, Jim Bell, was played by Cliff Soubier (1891-1984). The announcers were Pierre Andre and Myron “Mike” Wallace.

The series offered numerous premiums, available for proof of purchase of Peter Pan Peanut Butter plus 10 or 25 cents. The 1946 glow in the dark Radar Signal Ring is highly collectible as are the Secret Signalscope (‘47), the Mystery Picture Ring (‘48),
"Safty Is No Accident" button radio premium. Magni-Glo Writing Ring (‘49), Electronic TV Picture Ring (‘49), Spy Detecto Writer (‘49), Tele-Blinker Ring (‘49), Navajo Treasure Ring (‘50), the rare Aztec Emerald Calendar Ring (‘51), the Detecto-Microscope (‘52) and the “Safety Is No Accident” litho button (‘50) (left). Sadly, only a scant 15 or so audio copies of “Sky King” are in existence today. (Art spot by Bobb Lynes.)

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