Airwolf TV Show
Airwolf TV Show

AIRWOLF TV Series – 1984

The Airwolf TV Show, a 1980’s television series, was a military action drama series whose main character is a high tech helicopter, code-named Airwolf.  The helicopter has a twin turbine drum rotor system which makes it capable of propelling up to 300 knots. The helicopter also has 14 firepower options. Airwolf could fly halfway around the world and was faster than most jet planes. 

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The Airwolf TV Show, created by Donald P. Bellisario, originally ran from 1984 – 1986. Fifty Five episodes were released during that time. The premise of the series was that this exceptional machine, created by a slightly unstable scientist, is then stolen by that same scientist and flown off to Libya. A special division of the C.I.A. known as the F.I.R.M., understands the danger of Airwolf being in enemy hands. As a result, they contract a Vietnam Vet, Stringfellow Hawke (Jan-Michael Vincent) to go to Libya and steal back the helicopter.


Airwolf TV Show

Hawke is the only one aside from Airwolf’s creator, who is capable of flying the helicopter. He is successful at getting Airwolf back, however, this mission comes at a price to the F.I.R.M. In exchange for his efforts, Hawke requires the C.I.A. to find and return his brother who has gone missing in action in Vietnam.

Airwolf Opening Credits

The Airwolf TV Show followed a full length television movie premiere and focuses on the glamorous adventures of the helicopter and its crew. Airwolf is a fast-paced, action-packed television show. It originally ran for 3 seasons and was canceled because the lead star (Jan-Michael Vincent) became heavily addicted to alcohol and drugs. This caused multiple problems for the show, both on and off the set.


After CBS canceled the Airwolf TV Show in 1986, the producers signed a deal with another network which aired a 4th season in 1987. At the opening of the season, Hawke’s brother (Barry Van Dyke) reunites with Hawke after it has been discovered that he has been working undercover. Hawke’s brother takes over as Airwolf’s pilot when Hawke is in an accident and is severely hurt. After the first episode of the 4th season Hawke is no longer on the show.


Stringfellow Hawke (Jan-Michael Vincent) – The lead character in the show, and the only one aside from Airwolf’s creator who knows how to fly the helicopter.

Michael Coldsmith-Briggs III “Archangel” (Alex Cord) - The deputy director of field personnel in a top secret division of the C.I.A known as the F.I.R.M.

Dominic Santini (Ernest Borgnine) - A helicopter engineer who stands in for Hawke from time to time and flies Airwolf.

Caitlin O’Shannessy (Jean Bruce Scott) - Known as the “feisty redhead” who joined the show in the 2nd season. Caitlin and Hawke are supposed to fall in love but they end up as good friends instead.
Airwolf TV Show
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Airwolf TV Show Trivia

  • Airwolf was a spin off of an episode of Magnum, P.I. in which a Vietnam Vet uses his helicopter flying skills to fight for good.
  • The 22 year old stunt double of Jan-Michael Vincent died during production when the helicopter crashed.
  • Two novels based on the television series were written after the show was canceled, and toy helicopters depicting the tv helicopter became very popular. Some of the toys are still being sold today.
  • Airwolf was not the first television series featuring a helicopter and its crew. The Whirleybirds was the first. It aired in 1957-1960 and starred Kenneth Tubey and Craig Hill.
  • Jan-Michael Vincent was said to have had a ‘photographic memory’. He could literally look at a script one time, and then he was ready to shoot the scene.
  • Jan-Michael Vincent’s last major leading role was as Stringfellow Hawke in Airwolf.
  • Out of the original cast of characters from the show only two of the stars are still living (as of the date this article was written 4/14/2022), Deborah Pratt and Jean Bruce Scott.
  • After Airwolf was canceled the helicopter was sold and used as an air ambulance. In 1992 the helicopter crashed, killing 3 people.
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Airwolf TV Show Cast

  • Jan-Michael Vincent — Stringfellow Hawke
  • Ernest Borgnine — Dominic Santini
  • Alex Cord — Michael Coldsmith Briggs III
  • Deborah Pratt – Marella, Archangel’s assistant
  • Jean Bruce Scott — Caitlin O’Shannessy
  • Barry Van Dyke — St. John Hawke
  • Michele Scarabelli — Jo Santini
  • Geraint Wyn Davies — Mike Rivers
  • Anthony Sherwood — Jason Locke
  • William B. Davis – Newman

Did you know that Jan-Michael Vincent didn’t actually know how to fly a helicopter before starting on the show? He underwent intensive training to be able to convincingly portray Stringfellow Hawke as a skilled helicopter pilot. Another interesting tidbit is that the original Airwolf helicopter used in the first three seasons of the show was destroyed in a crash during filming, and a replica was built for later episodes. The show was a huge hit in the 80s and is still remembered fondly by fans to this day. If you’re in the mood for some high-flying action and espionage, give Airwolf a watch!

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