After the Screaming Eagle's crash at Glacier Bay in To the Rescue (Part 3) where it was destroyed beyond repair, the Rescue Rangers-to-be were in need of a new aircraft to get back to their hometown. So Gadget scavenged some raw materials from Aldrin Klordane's supplies, and built the Ranger Plane out of them. It may also contain a few parts formerly used on the Screaming Eagle. The building process itself is not shown; the first time that the Ranger Plane appeared was after Chip, Dale, Monterey Jack and Zipper had been thrown off the meanwhile flying iceberg by Fat Cat. Gadget saved her old friend and her new friends at the very beginning of To the Rescue (Part 4) by catching them with the plungers which can be shot off the landing gears.
Despite being a makeshift device, the Ranger Plane has proven very successful. Since it is no piece of mechanical jewelry like the Screaming Eagle, it is easy to maintain and to repair even after heavy crashes which occurred several times throughout the series.
Even after the introduction of its technically superior successor, the Ranger Wing, the Ranger Plane stayed in duty for the Rescue Rangers. The best proof is A Fly in the Ointment, the only episode which features both the Ranger Plane and the Ranger Wing.
Many remarkable things have happened to the Ranger Plane during its lifetime. In Adventures in Squirrelsitting, Bink became the youngest pilot ever to fly it. In Dale Beside Himself, it was (temporarily?) upgraded with extraterrestrial technology, multiplying its top speed. In Kiwi's Big Adventure, it was captured by a tribe of Kiwis who worshipped it as a deity, and who requested it to give them back their ability to fly. Besides New Zealand, it can also be seen in England (Ghost of a Chance) and Ireland (The Last Leprechaun).
The fuselage of the Ranger Plane is made of a bleach bottle, turned horizontally with the handle to the bottom. On the opposite side, a large piece is cut out for the cockpit and the four seats. The bottle cap serves as a maintenance hatch now, allowing access to the space between the nose and the dashboard. Right behind the back seats, two Rescue Rangers logos can be seen. A particularly strange fact is that these logos were there from the very beginning, i.e. since To the Rescue (Part 4) when the Rescue Rangers didn't exist yet, not even the name. (It is suggested by some fans that this R/R logo was actually some sort of brand icon for the bleach-bottle, and the name "Rescue Rangers" having the same alliteration is merely coincidental)
The two wings are made of an unknown fabric, shaped and supported by a framework. These wings do not only help lift the Rangerplane, supply it with thrust by flapping up and down, and push it into the desired direction since they lack ailerons, they can as well be tilted backwards to an upright position. The necessity of this ability is proven in the episode Three Men and a Booby during a dogfight with the falcons Bruiser and Cruiser. Two fins made of the same materials are attached to the stern, serving as elevator and yaw rudder, and improving the manoeuvrability.
But the most characteristic part of the Ranger Plane is the big red balloon strapped to the fuselage. The role of the balloon has often been discussed. It is supposed to apply most of the lift to the Ranger Plane and help it hover in the air, so the gas in it has to be lighter than air. However, in Ghost of a Chance, the Rescue Rangers rode the detached balloon as they descended to the ground without the Ranger Plane, and afterwards, the balloon stayed on the ground. Another explanation may be that the balloon is more of a safety device in case the wings fail. Three Men and a Booby is a good example for the Ranger Plane being able to fly without it after it had been released to distract the falcons.
Behind the wings, the two landing gear legs are attached to the sides of the fuselage. They are not considerably retractable, but this helps them being the most versatile components on the Ranger Plane. They can move in a way that makes the plane walk. This works on most surfaces as they have suction cups on their ends which, according to Gadget, are tested up to 300 pounds. They render the Ranger Plane able to land on vertical surfaces or even upside-down. The suction cups also turn the forelegs into plungers which can be shot and pulled back up in a harpoon-like way to catch falling objects or beings or to hoist them up from the ground.
Like the Screaming Eagle, the Ranger Plane has only one pilot's seat on the left-hand side and no second set of controls for a co-pilot. A bottle cap serves as a yoke. Among a number of switches and levers, the two largest instruments on the dashboard are a wristwatch without straps which is mounted in the center, and a compass which is placed right before the pilot.
Though there are a few electric controls and switches on the dashboard, the Ranger Plane works entirely mechanically. There is a crank tied to the handle which is for winding up a clockwork-like power source driving the wings and the legs. This makes the Ranger Plane less powerful and slower than the Screaming Eagle or the Ranger Wing, but on the other hand, it is independent from electricity, and it requires neither recharging nor replacing batteries. The episode Battle of the Bulge, by the way, features the replacement of the power source: To force the Rangers into some physical exercises, Gadget installed four pairs of pedals and makes her friends power it like a bicycle or a home trainer.
The Ranger Plane appears in the following episodes:
Accepted Fan Fiction Conventions
The majority of fan fiction authors believe that the Ranger Plane has never been totally destroyed or dismantled. In fact, the Rescue Rangers would most certainly prefer having a spare aircraft in case the Ranger Wing fails. So the Ranger Plane's existence is continued in many fan universes, and fan stories in which both craft are used, sometimes even at the same time, are not rare.
However, while the Ranger Wing has been upgraded a number of times and ways throughout fan fiction, the Ranger Plane tends to stay the same. It certainly makes more sense for Gadget to spend her time and work on upgrading the Rangers' primary aircraft; besides, the Ranger Plane lacks powerful electric systems which renders installing high-tech devices difficult.