While demonstrating the capabilities of the new prototype supercopter codenamed 'Airwolf', Dr. Charles Moffet goes rogue, steals the chopper and kills almost all of the observers. At least one man -- Michael Coldsmith Briggs III survives. Briggs, codenamed 'Archangel' is the head of a covert organization called 'The Firm' and Archangel calls upon the one man in the world he knows that can retrieve the copter. The problem is Stringfellow Hawke is not only a loner, but a recluse as well. The amount of money the Firm is willing to pay for Airwolf's recovery is irrelevant. Hawke wants just one thing - the safe return of his brother, Saint John, who was captured during the Vietnam war and is evidently a POW.
Hawke and his pal Santini head to Libya to recover Airwolf from it's diabolical creator, but Dr. Moffet turns up the heat by destroying a U.S. Navy warship. When Hawke's girlfriend Gabrielle goes undercover to discover Moffet's nefarious plans, she is captured and tortured and left to die in the desert. It's up to Hawke to recover the chopper, stop Moffet and save the girl, but will he do it all in time?
Hawke and Dom must stop a suspected traitor from turning an advanced military fighter over to the Russians in exchange for his son who was born in Vietnam. Things get complicated, though, when Hawke realizes that he was also involved with the boy's mother during roughly the same era as the child's birth.
An ambitious executive at the Firm makes a subversive play for Archangel's job. A bomb is planted aboard a vintage helicopter owned by Dominic Santini and he's forced to crash land. When Hawke and Archangel go hunting for Dom, Airwolf is ambushed and shot down. The two must convince a group of locals to help them repair their damaged tail rotor. Complicating matters on Dom's end, he must contend with a stowaway aboard his chopper -- a young girl searching for her dad.
A Russian mole discovers that scientists in the U.S.S.R. have developed a lethal serum that instantly kills anyone exposed to it. He steals a vial of the serum and contacts his friend Archangel for help in escaping the country with his family. Archangel dispatches Hawke and Santini for the rescue effort, but Airwolf can't handle that much passenger weight -- unless all her armaments are stripped leaving the supercopter defenseless.
A movie producer hires Santini Air for a dangerous stunt involving the landing of a helicopter onto the roof of a moving semi. Dom and String nearly come to blows, however, when String tries to convince Dom that his reaction time might not be up to snuff for this particular action sequence. Things get even more dicey when it appears that the production might just be an elaborate cover for a high-stakes gold heist.
Hawke meets a mercenary who claims to have information regarding his missing brother. When they part company, Hawke loses consciousness in his helicopter and crashes. When he comes to, he finds himself in a hospital. The medical staff inform him that he has been in a coma for the better part of a year. His friends, Archangel and Dom, were killed on a POW camp raid, but in the process, their heroism helped rescue Hawke's brother Saint John. Believing that his "mission" is over, Hawke reveals the location of Airwolf to his captors, then discovers that it has all been an elaborate ruse and he has inadvertantly turned over the super copter to a group of foreign conspirators.
An Israeli war crimes hunter is killed by a suspected Nazi named Hans Daubert in France. His daughter vows revenge and seeks the help of String and Dom, along with Airwolf, to bring him to justice. Complicating matters is Archangel's involvement with Daubert who is a known arms dealer selling to the powers that he chooses to in order to influence political outcomes in the world -- and Archangel is his supplier!
Santini makes an unauthorized flight to Cuba in order to rescue two political prisoners who are being ransomed for $2 million. However, while there, the exchange site is attacked and the ransom money is stolen. While flying back to the mainland, Santini is forced to crash land back on Cuba and Hawke must brave a hurricane in Airwolf to rescue his friend. When String and Dom are reunited, the pair must negotiate with a band of freedom fighters who raised the capital to ransom their compadres and are not convinced of Santini's innocence in the theft of the funds. To make matters more interesting, Archangel is supplying weapons to a paramilitary band that just may have had a hand in stealing the ransom money.
North and South Limbawe are in conflict over oil and a despotic General plans to overthrow his own government in South Limbawe and attacks his neighbors to the North. String and Dom are sent by Archangel to aid North Limbawe and it's leader, Seku Logana, but Logana has his own prejudices about receiving aid for his cause. Also in the mix is an old Vietnam buddy of Hawke's, Marty Vidor, who is working as a mercenary for South Limbawe, and Hawke is hesitant to take him on since Vidor just may know the location of the missing Saint John.
Dr. Robert Winchester is a brilliant researcher and a former test pilot who helped design Airwolf. Now, he's asking for Hawke's help in test flying a simulator that he's designed to enable the Firm to train future test pilots to fly Airwolf. Reluctantly, Hawke agrees, but determines that the simulator's "feel" is a little off. Archangel convinces Hawke to let Winchester hook up the real Airwolf to his computers in order to get a more realistic demonstration. This allows Winchester to engage in a little friendly flying competition with Hawke but it also allows the Russians to nearly get their hands on the high tech super copter.
Archangel warns String about a zealous government bureaucrat named D.G. Bogard who will stop at nothing until he finds Airwolf. Dom and Hawke take time out from shooting a military training film to hide Airwolf in a different location before it can be discovered, but Bogard catches on to their ruse and tracks Hawke back to the new hideaway. To complicate things, an eager pilot tails Dom and Hawke in an effort to convince Santini that she deserves a job working for his company.