In popular fiction it often seems flying in a helicopter is a more dangerous prospect than off-roading in a Ford Pinto full of sweaty dynamite. There’s even a whole TV Tropes page dedicated to the phenomenon. Helicopters are the redshirts of the vehicular transportation world.

Zombie fiction is no exception, probably because the helicopter represents a free ticket to safety from the gravity-bound hordes, and we can’t have that or we have no tension for our survival scenario. Maybe the pilot becomes a zombie, or one of the passengers, or a zombie was hiding somewhere on board, or something even more contrived than that, but whatever, the important thing is that the easy salvation and hope go down in flames and our protagonists are left to cry variations on “Game over, man!”

But early on with Zombie Ranch, I knew we’d be telling a different kind of story, one where the world had been adjusting to the presence of the walking dead for several years, and more than that, still had a fair amount of resources and technology available. Roads in the Wild Zones wouldn’t be maintained and might still be choked with ruined cars; land travel wouldn’t be out of the question, but there’d definitely be dangers and delays.

The Pony Express got by in the Old West, but in this Weird New West, wouldn’t it be nice if you could just fly your delivery right over it all, roads, hills, and zeds be damned? Well, shucks, there’s something that can do that! Helicopters could fly between safe zones or even fortified Wild Zone towns, never setting gear on the ground until they needed to (and requiring a lot less real estate and development to do so than a fixed-wing plane).

I’ve been teasing hints of all this since Episode 2, so it’s fun to finally get a chance to dip into it more, this rotorhead culture of independent contractors running goods for the highest bidder. The High Road Couriers. When it absolutely, positively needs to be there on time, pay up — and up they’ll go!