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The Bionic Wiki
“Little Orphan Airplane”

S1 E5

Production 40014
Original Airdate: February 22, 1974
Orphan airplane.jpg
Steve aligns the plane for takeoff
Produced by
Sam Strangis and Donald R. Boyle
Written by
Elroy Schwartz
Directed by
Reza Badiyi
Guest Cast
Guest Star(s)
Scoey Mitchell as Major Chooka
Marge Redmond as Sister Anneti
Lincoln Kilpatrick as Captain Braco
Special Guest Star(s)
Greg Morris as Josh Perkins
Stack Pierce as Bajad
Tierre Turner as Jajamin
Dave Turner as Farmer
Ji-Tu Cumbuka as Soldier
Arnold Turner as Sergeant
Donald Mantooth as 1st Radio Operator
Reb Brown as 2nd Radio Operator
Susan Gay Powell as Sister Terese
Dale Robertson as Himself
Broadcast Order
Season 1
← Previous Next →
"Day of the Robot" "Doomsday, and Counting"


The ‘Little Orphan’ reconnaissance light aircraft makes an emergency landing in Africa during a secret operation to photograph the illegal supply of arms and men to the country of Katara – in direct violation of a treaty signed by all the major powers. Under the code name "blue sparrow," Steve Austin is tasked with parachuting in to locate the aircraft, destroying it, and returning the film safely. There is no news of the pilot, Josh Perkins, who is presumed dead. As Steve parachutes into the remote African terrain, he is spotted by a local farmer and his young son, Jajamin, who runs off to inform the Kataran forces. Steve soon locates a signal from the lost aircraft and comes across Sister Anneti and Sister Terese. After eventually earning their trust, the nuns take him to their small mission where Perkins, who was injured during the forced landing, is hiding in the cellar. As he is unable to walk without the aid of crutches, Steve pushes Perkins to the ‘Little Orphan’ aircraft on a trolley. There, he finds that the aircraft has been damaged during the landing and has been concealed by camouflage. Using his bionic strength, Steve repairs the landing gear and propeller of the aircraft and removes the engine in order to return it to the mission for further repair work, using parts from an old truck located there.

Major Chooka, Kataran Military

While they are absent, Major Chooka of the Kataran army and some of his soldiers, who are looking for Steve, search the mission and warn the nuns of dire consequences if they are tempted to help him. One of the soldiers, Bajad, then takes up position nearby to keep watch on the mission. During their return, Steve spots the hiding soldier and captures him. Back at the mission, while the nuns, Perkins, and Steve are busy repairing the engine in the cellar, the young local boy sneaks in upstairs and unties the captured soldier. They flee and warn Major Chooka. Realising that it is only a matter of time before the soldiers return, early the next morning Steve persuades the nuns to leave with Perkins and himself. Back at the ‘Little Orphan,’ Steve refits the repaired engine and starts the airplane up. All four just manage to take off and escape as the Kataran soldiers close in and open fire.



Captain Braco: Now, where you are going, they put Americans up against the wall. So you'll be needing this. (He offers Steve a gun.)
Steve Austin: Oh, no thanks. Those things are dangerous.

Sister Annett: Are you the Colonel Austin who walked on the moon?
Steve: That's right.
Sister Annett: (to Sister Terese) Get my camera!

Josh: Man, nobody can run that fast. What are you anyway?
Steve: What's your security clearance?
Josh: What? What's that got to do with it? I'm a five.
Steve: Sorry, I'm classified six.

Josh: What’s a fellow who walked on the moon doing out in the middle of Africa? Missed your splashdown?

Steve: I'll know as soon as I yank the engine out.
Josh: Yank the engine out? Do you know how much that engine weighs?
Steve: Yeah, about 347 pounds.
Josh: No, it's 348 pounds, and you're crazy.

Josh: What I want to know is how you got that engine out of there?
Steve: Would you rather stay here while I fly off?
Josh: No man, for all I know you'd be able to walk away from a 2500 foot drop, but me I'm just flesh and bone.

Josh: Uh, Steve, about those [bionic] improvements?
Steve: What about them?
Josh: Do they come in black?


  • This episode has a comedic undertone. Appropriately, it is also the first episode in which Steve Austin doesn't kill or cause somebody to be killed.
  • This episode establishes that level 6 access is required for the secret of Bionics (it had previously been indicated in "Wine, Women and War" that level 5 is insufficient).
  • Austin says it has been about a year since his accident. Since the pilot film took place over the course of more than four months, that suggests all of Austin's missions to date have taken place in a timeframe of about half a year (which is about right if period of time between the first post-pilot movie and this episode is taken into account).
  • This is the third consecutive appearance of a red single-engine plane in a mission in which Austin uses a parachute.
  • Austin's work with the engine blocks may have inspired the inclusion of a liftable engine block with Kenner's Steve Austin action figure.
  • Following the montage of Steve working on the engine in the basement, the same tropical sunset silhouette seen in "Operation Firefly" is seen. (Some of the sound effects from the earlier, Everglades-based episode are heard again, too, earlier in the episode.)
  • Just before taking off in the plane, Austin stands on top of a ridge and sees the soldier approaching. The footage of Austin on top of the ridge comes from "Day of the Robot."
  • Ji-Tu Cumbuka, who plays a Kataran soldier, would later play Torque in the NBC spy series A Man Called Sloane (1979-1980).  Torque's right hand was a "bionics-inspired" mechanical prosthetic that could be outfitted with various attachments such as a radio, circular saw, and drill.
  • Reb Brown, who appears on screen as the radio operator, would later play Steve Rogers/Captain America in two CBS TV movies in 1979.
  • Scoey Mitchell, who plays Major Chooka, and Dale Robertson, starring as himself, both appeared on Match Game.


  • For the first time, Austin's night vision is presented in its final, classic form: electronic beeping, infrared image, and squared reticule overlay.
  • The "whistling" sound associated with bionic throwing is applied to Austin for the first time. In the scene, Austin throws a number of rocks, and the soldiers hear the whistling and think they're being attacked by mortar fire. This is one of the only times in which it's indicated that the characters actually hear this whistling sound (though it's uncertain whether that's always the case). The sound will go on to signify bionic throwing for just about anything, including footballs ("The Bionic Woman") and teddy bears ("Which One Is Jaime?") The sound had been used for its non-bionic purpose (artillery sound effects), earlier in "Day of the Robot."
  • This episode uses both fast-motion and later, slow-motion to show Steve running, providing a visually explicit contrast between the two.


  • Dale Robertson's cameo appearance is uncredited. He is the first celebrity to appear as himself in the Bionic franchise (the last, for the record, will be fast-food guru Dave Thomas in Bionic Ever After? 20 years later).
  • Greg Morris appeared in this episode less than a year after concluding his seven-season run in Mission: Impossible.
  • In an amusing bit of "typecasting," Marge Redmond was cast as Sister Anneti. She was also cast as a nun in the classic Sally Field sitcom, "The Flying Nun."



  • While having trouble with the airplane, Perkins relays the coded message "7, 0, 14, 2, 3, 5." He then repeats the message as "7, 0, 14, 0, 2, 3, 5."
  • After Steve removes the engine from the cowl of the airplane, the crankshaft where the prop connects is still visible.


  • When making radio contact about engine failure Josh Perkins says "can't contain altitude"; proper aviation lingo is "can't maintain altitude."
  • When the nuns arrive with Josh and the wagon at the airplane, you can see their breath, which while not impossible is unlikely given they're supposed to be in a nation bordering Uganda in Africa.
  • Major Chooka (Scoey Mitchell) of the Kataran army has an American accent.  [Yet, does anyone really know what a Kataran accent sounds like?]