As a six-year-old kid who was an aircraft enthusiast (railroading/trains were always first, but aircraft, a close second), I was always fascinated and interested in watching Airwolf. Granted, even then I knew the premise of a Mach 2+ capable helicopter was a far fetched fantasy, the show was nonetheless a classic.
While he was rather rigid and dull at times, Jan-Michael Vincent did a pretty good job of portraying the reclusive, somewhat troubled star, "Stringfellow Hawke" (not to sound insulting, but for JMV, this really did not require too much acting, for it was not exactly a stretch from his own life). Though the character (or perhaps, the person doing the acting) was a bit over-the-top, Ernest Borgnine fit well in his role as Dominic Santini, the experienced, well-traveled helicopter connoisseur and owner of Santini air.
What seemed to set the show apart from others of the time was its combination of the fictitious with easily believable (and in some ways, potentional) worldly events and situations.
As was mentioned, when the network executives took it upon themselves to micromanage the show, which led to Donald Bellisario's departure, the downhill slide began, which culminated in the awful fourth season, which undermined fans' intelligence and expectations for the show, and was nothing more than an attempt to milk more money out of the show and its success.
Now twenty years later, it is rather sad to look back at Jan-Michael Vincent as he was on the show, compared to the broken, shell that remains today. Of course, it is a bit ironic that the other star of the show, "Airwolf" (the helicopter), suffered a similar fate. "Airwolf," actually one of the Bell Model 222 prototypes, was sold to HSD Luftrettung & Blue Helicopter Alliance, a German helicopter charter company, in 1987. Unfortunately, while in service as an air ambulence, flying from Berlin to Cologne, it crashed into a mountainside during a severe thunderstorm outside of Dortmund, Nordrhein-Westfalen (Germany) on 9 June 1991, killing all three passengers on board.