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A Joe in the Sights: Airborne

Some characters are forever linked to another.

Alpine and Bazooka are forever linked due to their buddy-cop camaraderie in the cartoon. Scarlett and Snake Eyes are forever linked due to their bizarre romance. Same with Lady Jaye and Flint. Wild Bill and Airborne are forever linked as pilot and co-pilot of the Dragonfly.

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but doing so many of these “Joe in the Sights” articles means that I repeat myself a number of times. A lot of my very early GI Joe toy buying habits were informed by the other characters that were on the vehicle packages.

For instance, the Polar Battle Bear had to be driven by Snow Job, and while I already had Flash, I didn’t feel quite right until I could pop Gung Ho on there to complete the painted package-art trifecta. It’s not like that always informed my playtime (although Snow Job was the main driver for the thing always) but early on some part of my anal-retentiveness demanded that I have the art-characters to replicate the package.

So you can see how, having the Dragonfly and Wild Bill, I had to have Airborne to complete the entire tableau, meaning that he was forever linked to Wild Bill as co-pilot.

Airborne jumped out of planes and killed you. Specifically, Airborne jumped out of the Dragonfly and killed you. And that was a helicopter that had missiles and a machine gun and was basically death with propellers. You could work the propellers with a thumb-trigger and I can’t tell you how many Cobra troopers got smacked in the head by those things while Wild Bill was doing a barrel roll.

His finger’s on the trigger

nerves are steady

do a barrel roll

brain spaghetti

But I liked to think of Airborne as the dangerous one. Wild Bill’s flying around all cowboy-cocky and Airborne’s like “You missed one” and then he’s just jumping right the eff out of the plane to kill that lone straggler that Wild Bill’s gatling gun didn’t chew up into purina. He doesn’t pull his chute until the last minute, pretty much just diving gun first into the poor shmuck. Airborne had an M-16 with bayonet attachment, and the dude got positively antebellum with that thing. Sitck him with the pointy thing, pull the trigger, and then kick him in the head for good measure. Death from above!! Blood blod blood!!!

Anybody think I might have needed a child psychiatrist?

Airborne only had a few appearances in the Joe comic. He made his standard “first appearance” where he did some cool things like piloting a glider, and then he teamed up with Spirit in the first annual GI Joe Native American Cook-off.

Not really. They were actually looking after Snake Eyes who had retreated to his cabin in the woods for some R&R. Then Destro and Firefly dropped in and God I loved that comic. Satchel charge!! Boom!

The cartoon gave Airborne a psychic connection with his (non Joe, random) brother, which meant that both Tamox and Xamot immediately filed a lawsuit for ripping off their shtick.

Like so many of the characters who didn’t get the big storylines, Airborne’s claim to fame was always going to be whatever adventures you put his action figure in. For me it was often co-piloting the Dragonfly, which would go on to blow up the HISS Tank or FANG or whichever Cobra anagram the enemy forces were flying that day, before jumping right the hell out of that sky-blender to get a little one on one action with the bad guys. Before Ripcord, before Freefall, there was Airborne.