After an assignment, on the way to Rio de Janeiro, Sam's plane crashed on a remote Caribbean island named Exile where the Red Skull and his henchmen were hiding out. The Red Skull sought to use Wilson as a pawn to attack Captain America (who was currently on the island) with. He used the Cosmic Cube to revert 'Snap' into Sam, and give him the ability to telepathically communicate with birds, especially a bird that Wilson had bought named Redwing. After their initial skirmish, Cap was able to shake Wilson of the Skull's programming. Together they defeated the Skull, and the Falcon became Cap's partner for a long time. The Falcon ultimately left as Cap's partner when he was named the leader of the S.H.I.E.L.D. Super-Agents.
Later, again as the Falcon, Wilson received help from the Black Panther, who created a harness for Wilson, allowing him to fly. When Rogers briefly abandoned his Captain America identity, others attempted to take up the mantle, including a young man named Roscoe whom the Falcon mentored. When the Red Skull eventually killed Roscoe, Rogers again became Captain America.