Sunday, March 22, 2009

Airwolf Kicks Commie Butt!

I was out at my father-in-laws place the other night. He had just set up his new federally-mandated digital TV converter box (you read about that in the Constitution, right?), which meant that he now has about 20 channels compared to his usual five. We flipped around the channels and ended up on a rerun of the 1980’s series “Airwolf.” I thought this was unusual since I’d had a satellite dish for 5 years and have never seen “Airwolf” reruns on.

If you have never seen “Airwolf” (which means you’re probably flamingly gay), it is the heart-warming story about a man and his heavily-armed, futuristic attack helicopter. Jan-Michael Vincent plays the lead character of Stringfellow Hawke, a test pilot who steals the highly advanced prototype Airwolf attack chopper from the government. He says he will return it as soon as the government rescues his brother who is a still being held as a POW in Vietnam.

As long as he’s got the chopper anyway, he uses it for do-gooder weekly adventures with his friend and co-pilot Dominic Santini (portrayed by the venerable actor Ernest Borgnine). Trying to increase viewership, the network urged producers to add a female character, which they did in the second season. I don’t recall her name, but older brother Bawb referred to her disdainfully as “Sandy Duncan.”

The people didn’t really matter though, as the real star of the show was the Airwolf helicopter itself. It was built from the fuselage of a civilian Bell 222 helicopter. Airwolf possessed jet thrusters that could propel it to supersonic speeds and a bewildering array of electronic gadgets, which allowed the aircraft to do whatever the writers required of it that week.

It was armed to the teeth with every type of weapon system that the writers could find without the aid of the internet, including AIM-9 Sidewinder, AGM-114 Hellfire and AGM-45 Shrike missiles, even Paveway bombs and the M712 Copperhead guided munition which is normally fired from a 155mm howitzer. In its wing sponsons, Airwolf also had two 40mm cannons and two 25mm chain guns. (That is, it did until defense contractor McDonnell-Douglas reminded “Airwolf” producers that “chain gun” was a registered trademark. After that they were just 25mm cannons.)

Although the show seems delightfully cheesy now, when I was a ten to twelve-year-old boy it seemed wicked awesome. I even had an Airwolf poster on my wall, with Jan-Michael Vincent menacingly gripping a Micro-Uzi and the chopper parked in the background (which might mean I’m flamingly gay).

In the episode that I watched recently, the heroes (who also run a civilian charter service) flew a group of archaeological students and their professor into some Latin American commie-hellhole which had topography eerily reminiscent of southern California. After they dropped them off, sure enough, the students were captured by bad guys, necessitating Jan-Michael and Borgnine go and get Airwolf to kick a little commie butt. The army of the commie-hellhole carried an odd assortment of Kalishnikovs and dressed-up Mini-14s, as well as at least one bazooka.

During the valiant heliborne rescue, as Airwolf tried to pull a sling load of hostages out of the enemy compound, it took a bazooka round directly to the rotor hub. This led to mechanical difficulties so grave that Ernest Borgnine (who was flying Airwolf at that moment) had to grimace severely and say “C’mon baby!” several times as he throttled her skyward. Luckily a blacksmith in a nearby village was able to fashion a replacement rotor part for them. And he probably didn’t charge them 14 billion dollars for it. (So suck on that, McDonnell-Douglas!)

Not willing to let Airwolf, or the civilian transport plane that the hostages had been loaded onto, leave their airspace alive, the commie-hellhole quickly scrambled its MiGs to intercept them. (A MiG was a Soviet-designed fighter jet, for those of you who didn’t grow up during the cold war [also making you gay, by the way].) The MiGs fired on but were unable to destroy the civie transport plane, whereas Airwolf was able to tangle with and down all four MiGs.

No wonder we won the Cold War!

Thank goodness we did, too. We were able to defeat the forces of big government collectivism and retain our free republic where people don’t have to worry about government surveillance and torture… um… I mean… We held onto our nation of rugged individualism, where hard work and responsibility are rewarded while slothfulness and gluttony are allowed to… er… uh... We made a capitalist utopia where the “invisible hand” of free-market forces, such as consumer choice, naturally channel resources away from unproductive areas and toward the most efficient… um… Oh, crap!

Airwolf, you’re needed in Washington D.C. immediately! Bring your Copperheads. C’mon baby!

1 comment:

Bawb said...

I am so jealous. I haven't seen Airwolf sine it was on regular network TV. It was great. I always liked how the cannons weren't THAT accurate, so they always had to plow up about ten acres of dirt with small explosions before they actually blew up the bad guys.

At the time, the British Westland Lynx helicopter was the only chopper to have performed an inside loop. Defense officials actually contacted the TV show to find out how Airwolf performed inside loops. They were told it was a little ol' thing called special effects.