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DUCK PROFILE OF THE WEEK.
Launchpad McQuack a brave, good-hearted, if somewhat naive pilot with a spectacular history of crashing. As one of his mottos went: “If it’s got wings, I can crash it!”
Launchpad in DuckTales
Through the course of the DuckTales series, Launchpad’s character was increasingly developed. As revealed in the episode “Top Duck”, he came from a family of barn-storming stunt pilots known as the Flying McQuacks, but he left home when he was a teenager because he felt his constant crashing was too much of an embarrassment to the family name.
Not long after setting out on his own, he met Scrooge McDuck (or, as Launchpad usually addresses him, “Mr. McDee”), when Scrooge came to the airfield looking for a cheap pilot. The plane from Scrooge and Launchpad’s first adventure was a rickety bi-plane Launchpad built called ‘The Sunchaser’ which ultimately ended up in an aviation museum for being the first plane to fly through the Earth. The account of this adventure (since Launchpad was drawn as a skinny teenager) places his series age in the mid-20’s.
In the episode Launchpad’s Civil War, it is learned he is of direct lineage to the (in)famous American Civil War General Rhubarb McQuack (who bore a striking resemblance to Launchpad, although the General had a bushy handlebar moustache) who Launchpad, for much of his life, believed to have been the hero of the Battle of Duckridge. This illusion was shattered during a recreation of the battle when he encountered surviving Civil War soldiers who informed him that “that lousy, rotten, bungling, polecat McQuack lost us the Battle of Duckridge.” He subsequently helped the Civil War survivors get even with the townspeople for making fun of them for so long.
Launchpad also tangled with the forces of F.O.W.L. (a criminal organization that would later carry over into the universe of Darkwing Duck, as would Launchpad himself). Launchpad thwarted a F.O.W.L. plot to destroy the world’s money supply after the D.I.A. (Duckburg Intelligence Agency) and Scrooge McDuck persuaded him to impersonate an enemy agent who was his exact double. This is shown in the episode Double-O-Duck.
In the episode Armstrong, Launchpad is pitted against a robot in an air-race. The announcer refers to Launchpad as a famous adventurer. In some other episodes, the public seems to know him by this description, totally unaware that his achievements were only possible through his dimwittedness, such as getting his scarf tangled on a wing propeller, thus causing his plane to loop and swerve in what seemed like an incredible stunt. See Top Duck.
Launchpad in Darkwing Duck
Launchpad’s character was altered somewhat for Darkwing Duck, falling out of the role of independent hero/jack-of-all-trades, to that of a more comical sidekick. Many of the heroic qualities he displayed in Ducktales became generally muted, whereas other features, such as his clumsiness or lack of intelligence, were made stronger. His physical appearance also changed, being re-drawn with a much larger beak and a more muscular torso. At times he is seen without his aviator’s cap, and as in Ducktales, his appearance without it varies, from having short, red hair that matches his signature forelock, to being drawn with the forelock as his only hair and the rest of his head covered with feathers (in the fashion of other Disney ducks).
In the series premiere, “Darkly Dawns the Duck,” Launchpad and Darkwing meet after Darkwing bodily crashes through the roof of an airplane hangar during his pursuit of Taurus Bulba and surprises Launchpad, who is there working on his bi-plane. Upon learning Launchpad is a pilot, Darkwing demands he fly him up after Taurus Bulba’s henchmen. Launchpad obliges, claiming to be Darkwing’s biggest fan. Launchpad then volunteers his services as a sidekick, but Darkwing refuses, insisting that he works alone (and annoyed because he failed to catch Bulba’s henchmen). Launchpad continues to offer his help, even bailing Darkwing out of jail to prove how handy he can be. Eventually, his persistence pays off and he wins the caped crimefighter over, perhaps sealing the deal by unveiling the Thunderquack, a high-tech airplane he built specifically for Darkwing.
Although Darkwing has a secret identity (Drake Mallard), Launchpad is always called Launchpad, and has no crimefighter disguise, except on rare occasions where he serves as a decoy for Darkwing. Following their initial adventure, Launchpad appears to live with Drake. Throughout the series he was occasionally reunited with fellow DuckTales character (and rival to Darkwing), GizmoDuck.
Up Next: A triple play preview of the Rakers, Bulldogs, and Gray Bats.