Whirlybirds Section



Whirlybirds is the show that made the Bell 47 helicopter into a television star and a national icon of vertical flight. It was conceived and produced by Desilu Studios, which was the home studio of the TV sitcom I Love Lucy. Whirlybirds introduced the Bell 47 helicopter to the public mainstream arena during the mid-1950s, to the joy of kids and adults alike. Whirlybirds was televised from 1957 to 1959. A total of 111 half-hour episodes were produced but only 106 eventually aired. CBS re-syndicated 39 episodes and televised them with the name Copter Patrol. For post WWII and baby boomers, the Bell 47 is still THE helicopter.

The Whirlybirds was one of the top rated shows of the 1950's. The star of the show, the Bell 47 N975B, was "piloted" by Chuck Martin, played by Kenneth Tobey, and P.T. Moore, played by Craig Hill. Later on in the series, a new "star" was added to the lineup, the Bell 47 J Ranger, N2838B. Thus "75Bravo" and "38Bravo", as they were referred to when communicating by radio, flew to adventures and rescues each week, piloted by Chuck and P.T. Based at the imaginary Longwood Field in southern California, Chuck and P.T. would charter their services to all who needed them as well as help out a friend in need when the situation called for it, or assist authorities in apprehending bad guys. The real pilots of N975B and N2838B were Bob Gilbreath, Harry Hauss and Ed Fuderich of National Helicopter Inc, who also supplied the helicopters for the series. The abilities of the Bell 47 helicopter were expertly demonstrated each week by these great pilots, thrilling audiences both young and old. Indeed, the Bell 47 helicopter has established a permanent place in aviation, television, and human history.

This section is dedicated to the memory of Kenneth Tobey, 1917-2002, and of the Whirlybirds and the people who were and are involved with the Bell 47 helicopter and the show that made it famous.



The Origin of "Whirlybirds" by Jeff Jankovics

The beloved sitcom,"I Love Lucy" has been and is still watched by millions of viewers. One particular episode, number 140, became pivotal to the Bell 47's public image as the definitive light helicopter of the 1950's. In 140, which was entitled "Bon Voyage" and first aired on CBS January 16, 1956, Lucy misses the sailing of her transAtlantic oceanliner and commandeers a friendly Bell 47G to fly her out to the ship. Down she goes on the hoist, in a studio sequence carefully staged using a 47G cabin mockup. Desilu Studios, duly intrigued by the 47 and its makers, began discussions with Bell Aircraft about how the entertainment potential of the Bell 47 might be further developed for a television audience. The result of this colaboration became "The Whirlybirds".





The original Bell 47J Helicopter used in the hit television series "The Whirlybirds"
is still out there flying and performing it's duties in perfect fashion.



"Legacy", comic strip and tribute to Kenneth Tobey
for Whirlybirds Fans by Kerry Eisenhaur


NWB FAN CLUB - New Whirlybirds Fan Club
New Whirlybirds Pic Gallery - Honoring the new and old Whirlybirds.
Whirlybirds Episode Guide, - Comprehensive Episode Information
Jeff Jankovics' Whirlybirds G Mark - The Whirlybirds in color in detail.
Jeffs Hirobo N975B Gallery - A beautiful Hirobo Whirlybirds RC
Official Desilu Whirlybirds Model - A beautiful model toy of the Whirlybirds show released by Desilu studios.
RC & SIM - B47HA Remote control and Computer Simulation Page
Whirlybirds Flight Sim Project - International multi-team project for Flight Sims of N975B and N2838B -
Kerry Eisenhaur's 1/35 scale Whirlybirds - A beautiful 1/35th N975B
Lee Rilea's 1/35 scale Whirlybirds - A very detailed 1/35th N975B
National Helicopter Merchandise - Order a Whirlybirds jacket patch.
TV Acres - Whirlybirds - A review of the show.
Whirlybirds Gallery - A page of Whirlybirds memorabilia.


Whirlybirds Trivia
- In the opening credits, the picture is reversed. Observe the registration numbers on the cabin.
- There was a second 47J sometimes used for N2838B for backup and there were different 47 Gs used to portray N975B
- The Whirlybirds answering service phone number is AT 1 6999
- The Whirlybirds radio frequency was 1077, call sign of Seven Five Bravo.
- The Whirlybirds' "Longwood Field" wa(** corrected information forthcoming **)
- There were 3 secretaries in the series, Janet Culver (Sandra Spence), Helen Carter (Nancy Hale), and lastly, Jean (Bunny Cooper)
- Both Chuck and P.T. served in  the Korean War, although not in the same unit.
- Chuck was a POW for 8 months, and while he was missing in action his fiancée got married.


My sincere thanks to the following individuals and organizations for their wealth of information and photos. Without their help, this section would not have been possible:
Joey Rhodes, President of the Bell 47 Helicopter Association
The New Whirlybirds, Joey (Chuck) Rhodes and Danny (P.T.) Rodriquez
Professor Charles J. Lumsden of The Bell 47 Toronto Project
Jon Rudy of Bell Helicopter, a Textron Company
Richard Hart, National Helicopter Service and Engineering Company
Jeff Jankovics, B47HA RC and Sim Director, New Whirlybirds Fan Club President, Whirlybirds Flight Sim Project team member
Tom Heaverlo, B47HA member and Whirlybirds Flight Sim Project team member
Jean-Marie Mermaz, creator of the Gmax Bell 47 G2 digital flight sim and Whirlybirds Flight Sim Project team member
Lasse Lindh, creator of the Bell 47 J2A digital flight sim and Whirlybirds Flight Sim Project team member
Kerry Eisenhaur, Bell 47 Models Director of the B47HA and VP of the New Whirlybirds Fan Club

Disclaimer: The characters "Chuck Martin", "P.T. Moore", the concept of "The Whirlybirds", and all related indicia of this historic television series are trademarked and copyright property of Viacom Entertainment Inc. and are protected against commercial exploitation and related infringement by international law and copyright regulations.
The information presented here is for historical and informative reasons only and not for any commercial purposes of this site.




Back to Home Page