Universal, which already had a hit series about a talking car (NBC's Knight Rider), sold one about a high tech helicopter to CBS, created by producer Donald Belisario (Magnum, P. I.).
Airwolf was a mid-season replacement, bowing in the spring of 1984, and spent three seasons on CBS before shifting over to USA Cable for one final season on a smaller budget.
The concept was simple. Stringfellow Hawke (Jan-Michael Vincent, ex-Danger Island) had been a test pilot for the government, but after flying one mission aboard Airwolf, decided to keep the 'copter as a sort of collateral until they located his brother, St. John, who was reported missing in action. The funny thing was, after the series ended its CBS run, and was revived, St. John miraculously returned. We'll get to that soon. Hawke was joined by his mentor and family friend, Dominic Santini (Ernest Borgnine, ex-McHale's Navy), who'd served with Hawke's dad in World War II. In season 2, the producers added some girl power in the form of Caitlin (Jean Bruce Scott), but missed the boat on making her a potential romantic interest for Hawke, in this writer's opinion.
In 1987, The Arthur Company, an independent studio which had its series distributed by MCA (then-parent to Universal), acquired Airwolf, one of four series the company revived (the others were revivals of Dragnet, Adam-12, & The Munsters, all in syndication), and sold it to USA. Barry Van Dyke was cast as St. John, and previously established continuity was ignored. The cast included two future stars in Geraint Wyn Davies (later of Forever Knight) and William B. Davis (The X-Files).
Here's the intro everyone knows:
I think most people tuned in for the climatic firefights at the end of each episode.