Windlifter is a heavy-lift helicopter who can hoist dozens of trees or a huge tank of fire retardant. The American Indian’s wisdom is vast—he’s chock full of fire folklore, and his connection to nature allows him to sense fires before they’re even spotted. The former lumberjack became a firefighter to help others, no mission is too big for Windlifter.
Windlifter is a wise, soft-spoken Native American helicopter. Like all of the fire-fighters, Windlifter puts his life on the line to save innocent ones from wildfires.
In Planes: Fire & Rescue, Windlifter is first seen flexing on piles of logs when Dusty Crophopper arrives in Piston Peak National Park. Later, he and the Smokejumpers watch Dusty and Lil' Dipper's discussion. After Dynamite tells Dusty that Blade is busy checking on spot fires, Windlifter tells the story of a person called Haokah by the Lakota who beats his drums, with the cause of a fire being lightning and thunder from the drumbeats. With Dusty confused, Dipper tells Windlifter to stop scaring Dusty.
While the firefighters prepare to fight a wildfire in the forest, Maru gives Windlifter his tank of fire retardant before he takes off. After Dipper pours retardant over one part of the fire, Blade Ranger tells Windlifter that he is clear to maneuver, to which he then pours his retardant onto another part of the fire.
Upon the arrival of Cad Spinner, the park's superintendent, Windlifter explains to Dusty that Cad waxes himself daily, and watches as Blade and Cad argue about putting a lot of happy campers into the Grand Fusel Lodge and protecting the humanity. After Cad leaves the base referring to Blade as "Blazin' Blade", Windlifter informs Dusty, when he gets shushed by Dipper on mentioning Blade's nickname, to meet at the main hangar that night and not tell anyone, especially Blade, what they are doing. On that night, Windlifter, Cabbie, Dipper, Dusty, and the Smokejumpers watch an episode of CHoPs (parody of CHiPs), which shows that Blade used to be a TV star who fought crimes with Nick Loopin' Lopez. Windlifter seems to dislike the show, as saying that he is with Cabbie stating that "this show stinks."
When Blade refused to let Dusty fight a few spot fires caused by a thunderstorm while not certified, Windlifter explained that every plane they have will be needed, to which Blade eventually agreed. When Dusty pours his fire retardant too high above one of the fires, Blade orders Windlifter to finish off the ridge.
After extinguishing the fires, Windlifter and the rest of the team, excluding the Smokejumpers, head back to the base. On that night, Windlifter, Dusty, Dipper, and Maru go to the Grand Fusel Lodge's grand reopening party. When Maru explained that he had to get normal coffee, which wasn't available at the lodge, Windlifter tries on a pair of sunglasses, and asks Maru what he thinks, to which Maru answers that "you look good."
Windlifter later joins Maru, Dusty, and Dipper outside with Harvey and Winnie, an RV couple planning to visit the place of the park where they had their first kiss. When Dipper explains about the firefighting job being a second career to the team, she mentions that Windlifter used to be a lumberjack. Noticing that Windlifter hadn't spoken much, Harvey asks him if he wants a toast, to which Dipper explains that he is not much for speeches. Windlifter then tells the story of a coyote who traveled to a mountain and climbed it to find a tame fire and bring it down to the first vehicles (car equivalent of animals) but was unable to prevent his tires (feet) from getting burnt. Upon seeing them blackened, he ate them when he thought that they were his favorite snack, but also knowing that they were still full of life, and let go of the old and renews himself like fire renewing the Earth. After hearing it, Dusty says that he was up to the bit where the coyote ate his tires, while Maru congratulates Windlifter on giving the best toast ever.
The next day, the firefighters get the news of two wildfires caused by Cad's visiting VIPs flying too low over the burnt area the previous night and making air eddies which blew embers about. As Windlifter, Blade, Dusty, and Dipper fly toward the fires, Blade splits the group into two, with Windlifter joining Dipper to fight the Coil Springs fire while Blade and Dusty take the Whitewall Rapids fire.
Later, Patch, the firefighters' informant, gets Windlifter to lift Blade back to the base after he got damaged from protecting Dusty in the fire while sheltering in an abandoned mine. While Blade was being fixed, Windlifter was put into command. When they hear the news of the fire blocking the main exit to the escaping tourists, they eventually agree to go out and save the tourists. However, when the water supply that makes retardant runs out due to Cad selfishly diverting it to his lodge's roof sprinklers, Windlifter tells the team to make it count with what is left in their tanks.
Eventually, the team makes it through the fire towards the main exit, where Windlifter and Dipper put out the fire on the trees blocking the road, while Dusty puts out the fire on the trees over the railroad tracks, and the Smokejumpers parachute out of Cabbie to remove the debris off the road. Windlifter then receives a call from Patch that Harvey and Winnie are trapped on a burning bridge in Augerin Canyon. He was reluctant at first to let Dusty save them due to having no retardant but finally agreed when Dusty explained about filling up from the river leading to the canyon.
The next day, Blade (who got fixed in time to help Harvey and Winnie) and Windlifter fly back to the base while carrying Dusty, who crashed in the forest after his busted gearbox gives out due to redlining up the waterfall to scoop water when the river was too shallow, twisty and rocky. He watches with the rest of the team as Maru tries to fix Dusty, who regains consciousness five days later. Windlifter then asks Maru if he told Dusty which parts he fixed, to which Maru explained that he fixed Dusty's damage along with giving him a new gearbox. Windlifter and the rest of the team travel to Propwash Junction to celebrate Dusty's bravery, along with him being certified by Blade to re-open the town's airport for the Corn Festival and takes part in an aerial show with the team.
- Windlifter is a Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane, a heavy-lift transport helicopter often used for forestry and firefighting.
- To ensure authenticity for Windlifter, as well as pay proper respect to the American Indian community, filmmakers turned to Dr. Paul Apodaca, Ph.D. and associate professor American studies at Chapman University in Southern California.
- Throughout most of the movie, Windlifter shows indifference in his facial expression, which doesn't ever change; however, at the very end of the film, he can actually be seen smiling, albeit briefly.
- The fact that Windlifter is a Native American helicopter might be a reference to the U.S. Army's tradition of giving its helicopters names after Native American tribes (f.e. Chinook, Apache, Comanche).
- Wes Studi, Windlifter's voice actor, would later voice one of the Counselor Jerrys in the 2020 Disney/Pixar film, Soul, six years after Planes: Fire & Rescue came out.