Airwolf Writer's Bible
MCA I N T E R O F F I C E M E M O R A N D U M
The "bible" was written prior to the second season, wherein Caitlin O'Shannessy joined the rest of the cast' of characters as a regular working at Santini Air.
> May 20, 1985
> BERNARD KOWALSKI
> CAROL GILLISON
> "AIRWOLF" BIBLE
Caitlin (played by Jean Bruce Scott), was introduced in the second season's opening episodes titled "Sweet Britches". Her character was established in the episode titled "The Truth About Holly".
During the first season, the armament on Airwolf was identified as "CHAIN GUNS". We have since been advised that "chain guns" is a trademark owned by McDonnell Douglas and we cannot use this term in future episodes.
I. AN OVERVIEW
AIRWOLF is a dramatic action-adventure series that tells the story of Stringfellow Hawke, idealist and reluctant hero, who struggles to survive national and, occasionally, international intrigue with the aid of the awesomely powerful weapon: Airwolf.
Stringfellow Hawke is a quiet man. A natural leader with a dislike of authority, he prefers to be responsible only for himself and to live a private life in his mountain cabin, along with his fishing, his art and music, his hound dog and one good friend. Intelligent and somewhat aloof, with rare flashes of good humor, he is the best stunt pilot in the business. Beyond that, he neither has, nor seeks notoriety. And hidden away in a cave he holds the fastest and deadliest helicopter conceived, stolen from the government, and kept despite the efforts of half the intelligence agencies in the world to take it from him.
Back when Hawke was dodging bullets as a chopper pilot in Viet Nam, the Airwolf project was already well under way. Over a twenty year period, more then one billion dollars was secretly funneled into developing Airwolf for "The Firm°," the secret American Intelligence agency which thought the investment well made when the first Airwolf was completed.
The world's only supersonic helicopter, armored against machine guns and cannon, armed with missiles, nearly undetectable, and unknown; Airwolf was perfectly suited for its role in the Firm's covert operations. But Airwolf had a flaw. Only two pilots could fly it; Doctor Moffet, who designed it and Hawke, who flew it as test pilot for the Firm after 'Nam. So when Moffet destroyed the blueprints and stole Airwolf, only Hawke could get it back.
Archangel, deputy director of the Firm, bought Hawke's services with the only coin Hawke could accept, a promise to search for Hawke's brother, Saint John, who had been MIA in 'Nam for fourteen years. Hawke kept his part of the bargain, with the help of his friend and mentor, the grizzled Italian pilot, Dominic Santini and Gabrielle, a Firm agent he had come to love, Hawke managed to slip into Libya where Moffet had taken Airwolf. Gabrielle was subsequently murdered by Moffet, but her sacrifice bought enough time for Hawke and Dominic to steal back Airwolf ... killing Moffet in the process.
When the Firm drew a blank in the search for Hawke's brother, Hawke hid Airwolf and continues to hold it for ransom against St. John's return. Together with Dominic, Hawke flies occasional missions for the Firm in exchange for protection from the other agencies interested in Airwolf. The Firm must keep looking for Hawke's brother. And they must keep trying to get Airwolf back.
Hawke gambled when he took Airwolf and now he is paying the price for his audacity -- he is no longer in control of his life. He is forced to work with people whose methods he despises in situations he can neither control nor has an interest in. And, further, he must deal with the responsibilities that just having control of Airwolf entails. Yet Hawke cannot give up Airwolf. In doing so he would lose his last chance to find Saint John and he would betray Gabrielle's sacrifice. But Airwolf is an excellent problem solver and occasionally, using Airwolf, Hawke has a chance to help those people whose principles he believes in.
AIRWOLF is an action show, a scenario of challenge; of subtlety against strength, strength against treachery. But it is not a high-tech space opera; the chopper is the tool, not the tale. The story is of Stringfellow Hawke, as realistically and plausible told as possible. Hawke is a driven man of convictions, who has been blessed, and cursed, with the means to dramatically affect the situation or meet any challenge he encounters.
II. THE CHARACTERS
Who is Stringfellow Hawke?
The Firm's computers can supply the facts: Hawke is 34, quiet and reclusive. One time pilot for the Firm after serving in the 382nd AHC in 'Nam. The best chopper pilot to fly a gunship in attack or bring a slick through a firestorm unscathed. Orphaned at twelve, he was raised by his older brother, Saint John and his father's best friend, Dominic Santini.
However the facts don't explain Hawke's brooding nature or long silences. To understand those, you have to know about the three people who have changed Hawke: Saint John, Gabrielle and Dominic Santini.
Saint John (pronounced SIN-JIN) is Stringfellow's older brother by five years. The perfect older brother, Saint John was always there. Fishing, hiking, riding dirt bikes together, the brothers were inseparable. When their parents dies in a boating accident, Saint John helped Stringfellow over the shock. He showed Stringfellow how to survive in 'Nam and kept him alive and out of trouble for as long as he could ... up until the two were shot down while on the same mission. Hawke was rescued, but Saint John disappeared. And even through fourteen years have passed, Hawke cannot give up on his brother or stop searching for him. For Hawke still carries enormous guilt over the fact that he has survived and nearly everyone he came to love didn't.
The last one who didn't was Gabrielle. Once Archangel's close assistant, Gabrielle Admuir was the first since Viet Nam to touch Hawke's heart. And like the rest she promised Hawke she wouldn't die, a promise she could not keep at the hands of Moffet.
Parents, brother, high school fiancée and Gabrielle; all their deaths caused Hawke to erect his barriers. His sardonic humor, disdainful glance, and aloof expression and his nearly monastic life were all developed to protect himself from pain and loss. Only now are these barriers starting to crumble as Hawke begins to open himself to others. Airwolf has forced Hawke to deal with a variety of people under pressure and Hawke is learning that a smile or a laugh may be the only way to avoid complete paranoia. And deep inside Hawke is hidden more of a romantic idealist than he would care to show.
One survivor, one friend and the only truly stabilizing influence in Hawke's life is Dominic Santini. More then any other, Dominic taught Hawke to live. Taught him tolerance, and the judging of right and wrong. As he raised Hawke, Dominic gave him full rein and in doing so, he taught Hawke to survive.
It may seem that Dominic taught Hawke to see life in black and white, but Hawke is not naive. He knows about grey and keeps a watchful eye on those who straddle the fence. Saint John taught Hawke the wastefulness of war and death; Dominic that some wars are worth fighting. Though every death he has been responsible for haunts him, Hawke learned to do what is necessary, no matter what it costs him.
Mostly Hawke learned to value his privacy. He dislikes intruders, especially the white clad men of the government. And even though he will see less of the Firm's representatives this season, Hawke sometimes still wonders if in keeping Airwolf, he made the devil's bargain.
Airwolf aside, Hawke has his freedoms and joys. He likes serenading eagles with his Stradivarius cello, working in and on his cabin, fishing and flying. Especially flying. Hawke can fly just about anything, in any weather, any situation. And Hawke enjoys pushing himself, to the limit and a step beyond.
Hawke can be understood when known, or sometimes guessed at on those rare occasions when he raises his shades and stares out with those cold blue eyes; a strange mixture of untapped potential and total commitment ... and mystery; Hawke's reactions cannot be guessed, but when his mind is set, he will never give up.
What of Dominic Santini himself, owner and operator of Santini Air, Hawke's boss and only close friend? In his 60's, the grizzled Italian-American can and has flown in just about every aircraft imaginable; from piloting B-17's and Spitfires in World War II, to serving as engineer and backup for Hawke in Airwolf. Santini can fly it, fix it, and curse it with the best of them. He probably soloed in a Jenny at five, and is the only other living man to have flown Airwolf, even if he did forget to lower the gear when landing.
Santini is outgoing and cheerful as they come. He has seen just about all that a man can see, and is quite willing to talk about it, often to distraction. Dominic knows life well and enjoys every minute of it. The easy going Dominic does have a bit of a temper however, and can launch into a barrage of Italian nearly as devastating as one of his haymakers.
Dominic shows a bit of fatherly concern for Hawke, or "String" as he calls him, and perhaps a touch of Jewish motherhood. He is forever trying to get Hawke out of his cabin and into the world, or to meet a pretty little thing down in Acapulco for the weekend. But Dom doesn't push it. Dominic's concern for Hawke is a holdover from the days that he raised Stringfellow and Saint John, being their father's best friend and flying buddy in the old days. One thing you can depend on, Dominic will always be there to back Hawke, or bail him out of trouble. And, of course, the reverse is true as well.
But, flying his red, white and blue Jet Ranger, Santini also gets Hawke into as much trouble as he can handle. Through his charter and movie stunt flying business, Santini Air, Dominic has an unfortunate ability to attract problems; some from his natural tendency to help an old friend or comrade, others from his close association with Hawke. Because of their friendship, Dominic has become one of Hawke's major vulnerabilities.
You can't help but admire Dominic. Although a trifle old fashioned, as shown by his tendency to place women on pedestals, distrust government and disregard the rules, Dominic has earned the right to his opinions. And his evenhandedness and cheerful nature more then make up for any shortcomings.
Dominic Santini? No one could be a better friend to Hawke.
III. RECURRING CHARACTERS
ARCHANGEL: code name of Michael Coldsmith-Briggs III, head of the "Firm". Respectful adversary and ally. Answerable only to the President, and the "Committee", the coordinators of the American intelligence agencies. Archangel's devotion to his duties and rise into power in the Firm has resulted in his internally contradictory position of both aiding and abetting Hawke's possession of Airwolf, while trying to retrieve it for the Firm.
Archangel is a bona-fide member of the good guys. He has to be, he wears the uniform: white suit, shirt, and hat. He even shuttles about in a white limo and chopper (Angel One) and maintain a bevy of beautiful assistants in similar outfits. Quite distinguished looking with his silver hair and eye patch, it seems shocking that the man appears to have such low scruples. Appears is the correct word for, as in all else about him, Archangel's morals are scruples are misleading.
First and foremost, Archangel is an intelligence agent. Grey is as clear as white to him. He will cheerfully deal with an ex-Nazi or thief if it will help America's goals as he sees them. Running guns, selling weapons to rebels or mining harbors, all are part and parcel of his job, and he does his job well.
But Archangel also has a hidden, and to him slightly distasteful, sense of Honor. He prefers to consider himself a cold professional businessman, but he will do anything to save one of his agents. They may be his employees, but they are also his family, the only one we know of. And he is willing to buck the entire government to make a point, which has not endeared him to the other agencies in the continual power struggle in Washington.
From his office in Knightsbridge, or one of the many other Firm centers around the country, he has instant access to the free world's information pool, and all the hardware of America's allies. From his briefcase phone he can send an agent into Russia, or divert the Sixth Fleet. The only people that Archangel cannot control are the "Committee" ... and Stringfellow Hawke.
MARELLA is Archangel's chief aide. Beautiful, skilled and incredible devoted; Marella handles most of the details for Archangel's missions as well as being his pilot, computer operator, and general girl Friday. Fiercely protective of Archangel, she only loses her poise when Archangel does something foolish, such as flying with Hawke in Airwolf into a trap, or bucking the system to help Hawke. But gradually there is a slight softening in her attitude toward Hawke, and perhaps a touch of a gleam in her eye. A touch that Hawke does not, or will not, acknowledge.
TET is Hawke's Blue Tick hound, always to be found around the cabin. Loyal to Hawke, but smart enough to hide if trouble shows up, Tet's most salient traits are a tendency to peer up every woman's skirt (no sniffing please) and a dogged refusal to move from the dock, where he's generally napping, whenever Dominic tries to land. Don't worry about Tet when Hawke's away, he can take care of himself. Just don't ask what he eats.
The fastest and deadliest Helicopter ever created. A Mach One chopper that can kick ass. Secret, stealthy and lethal.
Airwolf was designed by Doctor Moffet to the "Firm's" specifications, but over the years of development, the Firm's changing responsibilities moved the Airwolf project away from the tactical military machine, and further into the covert operations role. Speed became more important than firepower, stealth more important then speed.
Airwolf's mission made it a compromise, and compromise always makes for weaknesses.
Untouchable by other choppers while at high speed, it's thirsty engines forbid a constant supersonic run. So while other choppers cannot out maneuver Airwolf, at low speeds they can equal it. And with high speed jets, the corollary holds true: although far more maneuverable than conventional aircraft, Airwolf cannot outrun a supersonic fighter. It takes a great pilot, like Hawke, to turn Airwolf's weaknesses into its strengths.
Airwolf's main strength comes from surprise; other pilots cannot conceive of what Airwolf is capable of, and Airwolf's inherent capabilities are astounding.
Designed for covert intelligence missions, Airwolf has been amazingly outfitted for its task. It can see in the dark and operate in any weather imaginable through its sighting and navigational systems; identify any aircraft, ship or ground target; pickup, block or jam hostile radars without being detected; and if detected, decoy enemy missiles through its Sunburst flares or Stealth Jammers. The entire machine is armored against small arms fire, from shotguns up to small caliber cannon.
While Airwolf's defenses are strong, they are subtle and they fade against the overt might Airwolf displays offensively. Machine guns and cannon firing from the wing tips are backed by an assortment of missiles that are capable of taking out anything from a man to an armada. Airwolf is even capable of nuclear delivery.
But all of Airwolf's weaponry is useless if it jeopardizes Hawke's covert deal with the Firm. Airwolf has to remain secret for Hawke's purposes, and laying waste to Nevada isn't the best way to keep a secret.
And bit by bit, the secret is leaking out. Everyone who hears about Airwolf wants it and more want it every day. The Firm wants it back; some in the armed forces have heard or seen Airwolf in action; the Russians and Cubans, and assorted others in Africa and South America have an inkling, and the Libyans would sell their mother for it. With the destruction of the blueprints, Airwolf is singularly valuable.
And vulnerable. Airwolf is not impregnable. A collision, a large cannon hit or missile impact, a bullet in the refueling intake, even sand in the engine intakes; any one could bring Airwolf down. And with the limits on the use of its offensive weaponry, Airwolf can only be effective if piloted with skill and verve.
So Airwolf is used sparingly and remains hidden. In its lair, the hidden cave deep within the snowbound "Valley of the Gods", Airwolf waits. Secure only by way of Hawke's skill as a pilot and by his audacity as a gambler.
TYPE: Long range supersonic multi-role helicopter.
ACCOMMODATION: pilot, co-pilot/gunner, engineer/counter measures specialist (ejector seats).
POWERPLANT: 2 turboshaft jet engines linked to twin blade rotor, 2 additional turbojets buried in the wing roots capable of 45,000 lb, thrust (reversible).
PERFORMANCE: cruising speed 300 knots, maximum speed, Mach One plus 662+ mph (with main rotor disengaged), range 3,000 miles, maximum ceiling 86,000 feet.
LANDING GEAR: retractable.
ELECTRONICS AND OPERATIONAL EQUIPMENT: communications and navigational equipment, Doppler navigation, search radar, weather radar, IFF scanner (identifies aircraft/ship/ground target type and armament with attendant specifications), infrared scanners, sonic scanners, passive radar detector, STEALTH (electromagnetic absorption and jamming systems), infrared suppressors, Laser detectors, TADS (Target Acquisition and Designation Sight), SLAS (Starlight Amplification System), IHADSS (Integrated Helmet and Display Sighting Systems), LLD (Laser Locator and Designator).
DEFENSIVE SYSTEMS: Sunburst (Infrared decoy flare); Chaff (Radar decoy).
ARMAMENT SYSTEMS: 4 30MM chain guns, 2 40MM canon internally stored and deployed through wingtip sponsons.
ARMAMENT (DISPOSABLE): a variety of missiles are internally stored and fired through a deployable ADF pod mounted in the center underfuselage. These can be:
Sidewinder, infrared homing
Sparrow, radar homing
Phoenix, preprogrammable/radar homing
Hellfire, passive laser homing anti-tank
Maverick, infrared imaging, radio link
Shrike, electromagnetic homing (anti radiation) can carry nuclear warhead
Bullpup, radio command
Harpoon, radio homing anti-ship
OTHER: 3 searchlights, emergency drogue chute.
ADF Pod: Deploying from the belly, the ADF pod contains and launches Airwolf's offensive missiles.
Autorotation: A gliding landing done in a helicopter similar to a dead stick landing in a plane. Used as an emergency maneuver when the rotor engine fails.
Chain guns: Deployed from the wingtips, the chain guns are rapid firing 30MM machine guns and 40MM cannon The loadings can be changed in flight to such ammo as antipersonnel, armor piercing, tracer, etc.
Chaff: A radar decoy consisting of hundreds of metal fragments, used to cloud radar screens with a false echo.
Collective: Control stick operated by the left hand, usually with the throttles attached, which controls the angle of attack of the main rotor blade. Pulling up on the collective causes the rotors to bite more air, thereby increasing lift.
Cyclic: Control stick operated with the right hand and mounted with Airwolf's turbo controls and firing triggers, the cyclic controls the attitude of the main rotor disc. Pushed forwards, the disc and the helicopter moves forward, etc.
Drogue Chute: Parachute carried in the tail, used for emergency braking.
Knots: airspeed notation equal to 1.15 MPH.
Main Rotor: Gives lift and attitude controls to a helicopter. Airwolf's main rotor must be disengaged in order to go supersonic.
Mach: Notation used for high speed travel above the speed of sound. Mach 2 = twice the speed of sound, etc.
Starlight: Sighting system which increases the amount of visible light 1000 times. Used in sniper scopes and built into Airwolf's helmets to allow blind night flying.
Sunburst: Infrared decoy flares, fired from pods in rear of Airwolf and used to decoy infrared homing missiles.
Stealth: Electromagnetic jamming and decoy systems, used to jam radar homing missiles.
Tail Rotor: Controlled by rudder pedals and responsible for directional stability, loss of a tail rotor leads to
Turbos: Twin turbojet engines used to increase Airwolf's speed to supersonic at a vastly increased fuel flow.
V. LOCATIONS & SETS
HAWKE'S CABIN: Set among pines overlooking a clear mountain lake, this log and stone walled rustic beauty is completely secluded. The only access is by boat or helicopter landing on the dock, where Hawke keeps his small fishing skiff.
The exterior is simple ... a traditional squared log design, with a full length porch the main feature ... and gives little indication of the surprising interior.
Upon entering, the eye is stunned by Hawke's magnificent art collection scattered about the walls. Van Goghs, Gauguins, Russels and Pollocks: all assault the senses and hide what is essentially a simple building. A comfortable den holds a goodly amount of furniture arranged around the massive stone fireplace where Hawke keeps his Stradivarius Cello. Tet generally slumbers on the flagstones. A small alcove holds Hawke's gun collection. A small but well equipped kitchen is set off to the side. The large stone bar at the back of the den completes the downstairs. The bar is where Hawke can usually be found awaiting visitors, with a bottle of Montrechet ready for friends, and his .45 ready for enemies.
Beside the bar a staircase gives access to the open loft which is Hawke's bedroom. Another small fireplace completes this small but homey place.
SANTINI AIR HANGAR: Here at Van Nuys Airport, Dominic runs his small but viable business. The hanger holds his red, white and blue Jet Ranger and similarly painted jeep. A small office and ready room complete the building. But the Jet Ranger isn't the only aircraft around. An old S-58, a disreputable Steerman, any of a variety of choppers and light planes can usually be found in various states of repair for use in Dominic's stunt flying business.
AIRWOLF'S LAIR: Deep in the Valley of the Gods lies the cave where Airwolf waits. Just a rough sand floored cave, it has only two entrances; a ground level crack in the rock and the well-like tunnel that only Hawke can fly Airwolf out of.
AIRWOLF COCKPIT: Fairly conventional up front, with pilot's and co-pilot's stations, it is Airwolf's engineers station in the back that is surprising. Dominic's station looks more like the bridge of the Enterprise then something you could shoe horn into a helicopter. Here the engineer can control and monitor the engines, scan and identify the targets, load the weapons and run the rest of Airwolf's manifold surprises. The pilot up front can fire the weapons, and has a limited read of the different radars and assorted equipment, as well as flying controls, but the engineer has all the goodies.
AIRWOLF is an action/adventure series, a kaleidoscope of fascinating machines, death defying aerial combat and international intrigue. That's for the press handouts. What AIRWOLF is really about is people.
Hawke reacts with logic and instinct to balance Dom's emotions. Hawke has to be cajoled into his missions, and will often fly a holding pattern until he has worked out the rights and wrongs of the scenario. But once Hawke has decided, stand back. All hell will break loose.
Airwolf may be the title subject, but it remains well hidden. Airwolf is so powerful that it must be handled delicately. As a plot fulcrum, or as the Calvary to the rescue, Airwolf works fine, but it is always second fiddle to Hawke.
In format, a few not so hard and fast rules. Try to keep the action within the Continental U.S. Also, we prefer to utilize a clock to keep the action rolling. 72 hours until a friend is executed or a refinery explodes or whatever.
Also, a third act twist, where all the rules are changed or the clock speeded up. Generally just before the dancing rabbits hit the screen, Hawke will find that he's been working for the bad guys, or we will discover the trap within the trap that Hawke doesn't know of and from which there seems no escape.
Except there always is. Realistically. Our scenarios must be plausible and rational. Hawke doesn't take a mission just because the Firm wants him to, he doesn't blow up Uganda because he likes explosions. Hawke must have a damn good reason before getting involved with anything. Hawke could walk away from a situation at any time and we know this. His involvement must be organic .. and, this season, preferably personal.
AIRWOLF is more then pretty flying and sparklers zinging off of armor plate. The violence isn't gratuitous but it is realistic. Sometimes the innocent are hurt, or the good guys don't get total victory. And if there is a chance to get away, the bad guys might survive. Hawke doesn't waste people on a whim, but if the reason is overriding, and Hawke pulls the trigger, they're gone.
And finally, a tag ending. Humor to balance out the action, or a touch of pathos with the good guys. Although this situation has been handled, the world hasn't really changed. Good and bad live on.