Welcome aboard Sandpiper Air! On April 19, 1990, NBC debuted the long-running TV series Wings about a small Nantucket airport and the small-time airlines competing for the tiny market. The show centered around two brothers, Joe and Brian Hackett, and the hilarious antics of their one-plane airline. The show went on to win multiple Emmy Awards and was hailed by critics and fans alike.
Whether you were an avid fan or someone who left it on the channel when you stayed home sick from work or school, you can appreciate the top 12 following facts about Wings. We’re ready for takeoff!
12. Tim Daly – “Joe”
Daly portrayed Joe Hackett, the obsessive compulsive pilot for his company Sandpiper Air. As soon as Wings ended, Daly earned the role of Jim Lovell on the HBO series From the Earth to the Moon. He went on to receive an Emmy nomination for his role on The Sopranos and he is now co-starring on the hit CBS drama, Madam Secretary.
11. Steven Weber – “Brian”
Weber played Joe’s younger, carefree brother, Brian Hackett. The womanizing pilot served as the comic relief opposite of the brotherly duo. After the finale of Wings, Weber voiced a character on the All Dogs Go To Heaven, the Green Goblin on The Ultimate Spiderman series, and starred in the made-for-TV rendition of The Shining.
10. Tony Shalhoub – “Antonio”
Shaloub was the perfect choice to play a nice guy immigrant taxi driver, and many people believed his accent was authentic. His career took off (pun intended) after Wings, and he appeared in such films as Gattaca and Men In Black. His biggest role came when he starred in his multiple Golden Globe-winning show, Monk, as an OCD-ridden former homicide detective.
9. Thomas Haden Church – “Lowell”
Emmy Award-winning Church’s memorable role as Lowell, the bumbling, not-so-bright mechanic, earned him much critical praise. Church has an extensive film career including his Oscar-nominated performance in Sideways as well as playing the villain Sandman in Spider-Man 3. He is currently starring alongside Sarah Jessica Parker on the HBO series Divorce. See what happened to Roy Biggins in slide #8.
8. David Schramm – “Roy”
Schramm played the easily frustrated Roy, owner of the direct competitor airline to Sandpiper Air. He became a voice actor after Wings flew off into the sunset and later had an extensive Broadway career. Fly over to #7 to see what happened to one of the shows’ favorite female characters.
7. Crystal Bernard – “Helen”
Helen was the airport’s lunch counter waitress with aspirations of becoming a world-renowned concert cellist throughout the entire series. She appeared in a few B-movies but her notoriety continued with her music career when she had four songs from her two albums appear on U.S. charts.
6. Amy Yasbeck – “Casey”
Yasbeck is the widow of the late John Ritter, the sole male roommate from the hit Three’s Company, and she starred alongside him in Problem Child. She has extensive guest starring roles on multiple shows including Quantum Leap, Just Shoot Me, Modern Family, and recently on the comedic slacker comedy hit Workaholics.
5. Other Elites Auditioned For The Role Of Brian
George Clooney auditioned for the role of the smooth-talking Brian Hackett almost four years before he became an A-list celebrity for his role on the long-running hit E.R. David Duchovny from The X-Files and Hank Azaria from The Simpsons were also among those vying for the role. We’re going to discuss the gang’s favorite watering hole in slide #4.
4. The Club Car Is Real
When the gang wasn’t busy getting into their daily antics at the small-time airport, they were hanging out at their favorite watering hole in Nantucket, The Club Car. It is a real place that you can visit but, much like Cheers, the internal shots were not filmed on location.
3.You Can Still Fly Sandpiper Air If You Dare
The airplane featured on the opening and closing credits of Wings is the Cessna 404/402 with the tail number N121PP and is still in operation today. The plane belongs to Hyannis Air Leasing Inc. in Massachusetts and it appears to have been involved in an accident in 2010 when the pilot discovered it had “little to no braking action.” Yikes!
2. Walter White Could Have Been Joe
Bryan Cranston was among those who auditioned for the role of Joe Hackett, and he would have been another perfect choice, borrowing some traits from White’s early days as a chemistry teacher. Let’s just say he didn’t need Wings to become one of the most recognizable actors in television history.
1. TV’s Funniest Shared Universe
Many fans don’t know that Wings takes place in the same television universe as Cheers and Frasier. Rebecca Howe, Norm Peterson, Cliff Clavin, and Frasier and Lilith Crane all made guest appearances on Wings before the show’s end. Co-creators David Angell, Peter Casey, and David Lee all had their influence in each show.
Wings had a storied eight-season run, along with years of daytime syndication on the USA Network. Throughout those seasons, the show only brought home three Emmy nominations, with two of those being for episodes including the one with Kelsey Grammar and Bebe Neuwirth reprising their roles as Frasier and Lilith Crane. For a show with a simple premise and set, it was on Nielson’s top 30 list from 1991-95. If you have never seen the show, it is currently available on Hulu.
What other episodes of Wings stood out to you? Would you like to see a Wings reunion in the future?