Aviation adventures as a genre seems odd to us now, and
that's probably for a few simple reasons. First, many
of the kids listening to such aviation adventures as The
Air Adventures of Jimmy Allen, Captain
Midnight, and Hop Harrigan had watched
their first plane flying overhead as a singular, wondrous
thing droning high above across the sky. WWI aces, flying
barnstormers and air explorers like "Lucky Lindy"
and Amelia Earhart fired the imaginations of the 20's
and 30s eras. Pylon racing, all but forgotten today,
was as big as Nascar in some regions of America. Then, WWII had its civilian defense "plane spotter"
awareness. But the jet took the human element out of flying,
and the aviation adventure was quiet until we reached
for "outer space."
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The writing team of Burtt and Moore had created Captain
Midnight, and in 1942 got together with Albert
Aley to do a radio adventure based on the popular All-American
comics star, Hop Harrigan. Harrigan is "America's
Ace of the Airwaves," and he gets a lot of flying
time fighting evil, and as the war developed, Hop in his
radio adventures was in the thick of the real battles
that were raging overseas. His flying buddy Tank Tinker
is along for the ride and Hop actually is allowed a girlfriend,
Gail Nolan, played by Mitzi Gould. Chester Stratton plays
Hop, and Tank's role was first Ken Lynch, then Jackson
Beck. Beck was the announcer on Superman after 1943 and Tom Corbett, Space Cadet,
played The Cisco Kid
from '42-'45, Inspector Logan on Casey,
Crime Photographer, Hood on The
Casebook of Gregory Hood in '49, plus The
Mysterious Traveler, Yours
Truly, Johnny Dollar and many more. He's also
beloved as the classic voice of Bluto on the Thimble Theatre
Somewhat more adult than the earlier flying adventures,
Hop actually gets out of the plane and does some WWII spy work behind the enemy lines in Germany, and later
in the series went to the Pacific Theatre to Okinawa for
the battle of Okinawa. During the war years, the announcer's
war appeals stand in stark contrast to the comicbook-inspired
adventures on the show.
After the war, Hop gets involved in episodic mysteries
that remind one in plot of I
Love a Mystery, as well as an adventure in Hollywood.
Grape Nuts flakes was the major sponsor in the mid-1940s,
with Glenn Riggs announcing throughout the run.
For other aviation adventure series, see also: Air Adventures of Jimmy Allen, Tailspin Tommy, Anne of the Airlines, Captain Midnight, Speed Gibson, Hop Harrigan, Howie Wing, A Saga of Aviation, Sky King, Terry & the Pirates, Smilin' Jack, Sky King, and Sky Blazers..
For other great serials, see also: Jack Armstrong the All American Boy, Jerry at Fair
Oaks, Adventures of Dick Cole,
Bobby Benson, Buck
Rogers, Dick Tracy, Flash
Gordon, Jungle Jim, Magic
Island, Sgt Preston,
Sky King, Speed
Gibson, Superman, Terry
and the Pirates, and Tom