An ad promoting a trip to Glacier National Park

By John Pierce

The day Sky King came to town is a special childhood memory. Not often could a youngster meet a real, television hero in person.

So my family paid a visit to Brainerd Village, a popular retail destination beyond the downtown Chattanooga department stores — before the days of shopping malls.

Saturday westerns – those early-morning movies by Roy & Gene, followed by “Fury,” “Sky King” and “My Friend, Flicka” – were wonderfully entertaining to our young minds even if rather predictable.

Many years later on “The Tonight Show,” Johnny Carson offered three television trivia questions to which he said, “No one will know the answers.”

For one he asked, “What actor played Sky King?”

My brother Rob and I replied quickly in unison: “Kirby Grant.”

Maybe out in Hollywood he was just another forgettable “B” actor, but to us he was “Sky King.”

With his trusty Cessna named “Songbird,” he could come “out of the western sky” and thwart evil with the best of them – and always just before the credits rolled.

Perhaps it was nothing more than childhood fantasy. But feeling compelled to rescue others and come down on the side of good is a desire worth hanging onto for a lifetime. 

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