A History of Helicopters on The Walking Dead

When Morales nicknamed Rick Grimes “helicopter boy” in the first season of <em>The Walking Dead</em>, the moniker originated from the sheriff’s deputy’s attempt to signal a helicopter flying over Atlanta during the early days of the zombie apocalypse. Eight years later, after an injured Rick was airlifted away aboard a Civic Republic Military chopper, “helicopter boy” rose through the ranks to become Sergeant Major Rick Grimes: a CRM soldier and helicopter pilot.

CRM Lieutenant Colonel Donald Okafor (Craig Tate) recruited and trained Rick to join the secret army that abducted him from his family in season 9 of The Walking Dead. This mission became possible after Jadis/Anne (Pollyanna McIntosh) saved Rick’s life and handed him over to the CRM. While Jadis facilitated Rick’s connection to this broader world, helicopters have consistently featured throughout The Walking Dead, beginning with the first episode.

Season 1 Episode 1: “Days Gone Bye”

A History of Helicopters on The Walking Dead

Waking from an abandoned hospital, Rick ventured past a desolate graveyard of military hardware, including a black helicopter. As he rode into the zombie-infested Atlanta, the reflection of an operational helicopter caught his eye.

Season 2 Episode 13: “Beside the Dying Fire”

A History of Helicopters on The Walking Dead

The Season 2 finale opened with walkers amassing in Atlanta, having followed the helicopter spotted by Rick in the pilot. They surged into rural Georgia, ravaging the Greene family farm.

Season 3 Episode 3: “Walk With Me”

A History of Helicopters on The Walking Dead

Woodbury’s Governor (David Morrissey) stumbled upon a downed National Guard helicopter that Michonne and Andrea (Laurie Holden) had witnessed crashing.

Season 4 Episode 1: “30 Days Without an Accident”

A History of Helicopters on The Walking Dead

Rick’s group, including Michonne, Daryl, and Glenn, embarked on a supply run to a Big Spot store. The store’s roof featured a crashed helicopter, whose wreckage eventually collapsed, releasing a horde of walkers.

Season 7 Episode 10: “New Best Friends”

A History of Helicopters on The Walking Dead

When Rick encountered Jadis and the Scavengers, observant viewers noticed a helipad and a potential helicopter in the background. Later, Savior Simon questioned Jadis about the helipad, revealing the three-ring symbol connected to the CRM and the Alliance of the Three.

Season 8 Episode 5: “The Big Scary U”

A History of Helicopters on The Walking Dead

As Rick approached Jadis’ junkyard, a black helicopter briefly crossed his path, disappearing behind the trees as quickly as it had appeared.

Season 8 Episode 14: “Still Gotta Mean Something”

A History of Helicopters on The Walking Dead

Jadis summoned a three-ring marked helicopter to the junkyard for a trade with Negan. However, a struggle extinguished her flare, causing the CRM helicopter to depart without retrieving the intended pickups.

Season 9 Episode 2: “The Bridge”

A History of Helicopters on The Walking Dead

After 19 months in Alexandria, Jadis witnessed a helicopter hovering with lights and whirring blades in the darkness while on lookout duty.

Season 9 Episode 3: “Warning Signs”

A History of Helicopters on The Walking Dead

Savior disappearances and subsequent deaths raised suspicions towards Jadis. She proposed an escape with Father Gabriel to a distant location known as the Civic Republic. This hidden city, later revealed in “The Walking Dead: World Beyond,” housed over 200,000 survivors. Jadis implored Gabriel to remain silent about their destination and assist her in a unspecified aspect of the plan. She promised a better life beyond their current circumstances if he placed his trust in her.

But Gabriel was going to alert Rick that she’d been trading people, so Jadis knocked him unconscious and told Gabriel: “And all this time… I thought you were a B.”

Season 9 Episode 4: “The Obliged”

A History of Helicopters on The Walking Dead

After categorizing Rick and Negan as “A’s,” Jadis intended to sacrifice Gabriel to a walker and trade him to the helicopter, as she believed an “A” sacrifice was necessary for extraction. However, she ultimately spared Gabriel and abandoned the junkyard.

Season 9 Episode 5: “What Comes After”

A History of Helicopters on The Walking Dead

During “The Obliged,” Rick was impaled on a rebar pipe while diverting a walker herd. Despite losing and regaining consciousness, his hallucinations transported him back to the hospital where he initially awoke following the outbreak. Outside his hospital window, a flock of helicopters appeared, symbolically hinting at his eventual airlift.

Season 9 Episode 5: “What Comes After”

A History of Helicopters on The Walking Dead

Rick, washed ashore after selflessly sacrificing his bridge, was encountered by Jadis. Through a radio transmission, she informed the helicopter pilot of Rick’s presence, describing him as a “B” rather than an “A” and emphasizing his strength despite his injuries. She conveyed her desire to aid Rick, portrayed as her savior. Consequently, Rick was airlifted to a Philadelphia military hospital. After unsuccessful escape attempts, Rick spent six years working in consignment and two years undergoing military training as a soldier and pilot in the Civic Republic.

Read our comprehensive guides on the CRM, the Rick & Michonne timeline, and Rick’s eight-year absence. Stay updated with ComicBook/TWD and follow us on Facebook for more coverage of the TWD Universe.

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