From 1939 to 1949, children everywhere didn’t have to look far to find a hero! Captain Midnight provided them with the action of a military aviator who took on the bad guys.
Starting on October 17, 1939 the Captain Midnight radio show aired in markets where its sponsor, the Skelly Oil Company, had major customers. Children in the Midwest and southwest regions of the United States tuned in every weekday to find out what their hero was up to.
The basic premise of the show centered on the hero himself, Captain Midnight. He was a flying ace in the World War I and his true identity was kept a secret – even from his commanding officers. His nickname came from a daring mission where he returned at midnight unscathed.
Every installment of Captain Midnight impressed kids with his ability to fight evil plots and restore justice to the world. Children were also engaged because of his two sidekicks – Patsy Donovan and Chuck Ramsey.
As the show continued it changed hands and was sponsored by Ovaltine and was broadcast more widely. As the years went by and the United States entered World War II, Captain Midnight stayed in line with the times. He began to fight the Nazis and the Japanese.
All over the country, children were joining the Captain Midnight Flight Patrol – a fan club that sent children a junior pilot application card and a bronze medal to commemorate their membership. It also was a decoder that children could use to interpret messages hidden in the serial script.
The show also provided children with action-packed shows that they could tune into Monday through Friday. Captain Midnight was known for its amazing sound effects that brought children from their living rooms to the battle lines.
As children listened they were transported into machine gun battles and heroic dives through the air. And because of the excitement, children couldn’t wait to become a part of the action.
Millions of children joined the Flight Patrol. The success of Captain Midnight is surely tied to the events of the day when war and aviation were on the forefront of American culture.