1983 saw the success release of the film Blue Thunder.
The networks were inspired by the success of that film to create three series using helicopters. ABC had Blue Thunder
, NBC had Riptide
was the CBS helicopter series.
Airwolf is the most advanced helicopter in the world, and the series starts with the helicopter’s creator stealing it to try to sell it to the Libyans. A US government agency known as “The Firm” hires Stringfellow Hawke
) to recover the stolen helicopter. Hawke is successful, but refuses to turn over the helicopter until his brother is rescued from Vietnam. In the meantime, he will reluctantly fly missions for “The Firm." Helping him is the Firm's contact, Archangel
(Alex Cord), and trusty mechanic Dominic Santini
Airwolf first aired on CBS from January 1984 through July 1986 (first episode was a movie aired on Sunday from 9:30 to 11:30, then a lot of jumping around the scheduled occurred, first starting on Saturday at 9 pm (always an hour long series, and except for the pilot movie and final year, always on Saturday) and last aired on CBS on Wednesday’s at 9pm EST. Another season of new episodes, with a different cast, aired in 1987 on the cable channel USA. At that point Stringfellow and Dominic were eliminated from the series, and Stringfellow's brother Saint John Hawke
took over as Airwolf's pilot, with Dominic's daughter Jo Santini
as his mechanic. The cable version of the series was a much lower budget affair and was mostly filmed in Canada.