Harold the Helicopter

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Harold the Helicopter
Thomas & Friends character
Harold 1986.jpg
Harold's Model
First appearance

Percy the Small Engine (The Railway Series)

"Percy and Harold" (Thomas & Friends)
Portrayed by Kevin Frank (Thomas and the Magic Railroad)
Keith Wickham (UK; Misty Island Rescue onwards)
Kerry Shale (US; Misty Island Rescue onwards)
Nationality British English

Harold the Helicopter is a rescue helicopter in the Railway Series books by the Rev. W. Awdry and Christopher Awdry and the television series Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends. He is white with a red pinstripe.

He is very proud of being able to fly, and the speed and versatility this gives him. This has led to rivalries with the engines, most notably a race with Percy the Small Engine in the helicopter's first appearance, which Percy won. Despite this, he is a friend to the railway, in particular to Percy, and has often been able to help the engines out- even though they do sometimes refer to him as "whirlybird".

He is owned by the Coastguard on Sodor and lives at Dryaw airfield by Thomas' branch line and since the movie-special Misty Island Rescue lives at the Sodor Search and Rescue Centre.

He keeps a watchful eye over the Island in case of trouble, and speeds to the rescue of anyone in distress.

He speaks in a manner reminiscent of an RAF pilot as depicted in movies of the 1940s and 50s, using terms such as "wizard" in conversation.

Harold makes his first appearance in Percy the Small Engine (1956), appearing in two stories. He is not seen again under the Reverend's name, but reappears in More About Thomas the Tank Engine (1986) and Thomas Comes Home (1992) by Christopher Awdry.

Thomas & Friends[edit]

Since Misty Island Rescue, Harold is owned by the Sodor Search and Rescue Centre on Sodor and lives at the Rescue Centre by the Misty Island Tunnel. His previous home was at the airfield near Dryaw. From 2010 onwards, Harold is now currently voiced by Keith Wickham (UK) and Kerry Shale (US) in the CGI version of the series.

Behind the Scenes[edit]

Harold first appeared in the book Percy the Small Engine. Martin Clutterbuck suggests that the inspiration for the story in which he races Percy came from the British Department of Transport's claims that the helicopter would soon render railways obsolete.[1]

Harold is based on a Sikorsky S-55 helicopter, built in the UK as the Westland Whirlwind. This was one of the most successful early helicopters, with examples being used all over the world. The character's name may arise from the fact that variants of the Whirlwind in UK military service were designated HAR 1, HAR 3, HAR 10 etc.