Bell 222/230: The Helicopter from Airwolf
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Bell 222/230: The Helicopter from Airwolf

Airwolf was a famous TV series aired from 1984 to 1987. This article aims to provide the reader how an ordinary Bell 222 type of helicopter became the basis for the storyline used in the show, a high tech helicopter which captured the heart of viewers by flying combat missions employing sophisticated equipments and weaponry imaginable.

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Everyone aged forty to sixty years old could still recall “Airwolf” as a most sought after TV series back during its air time in 1984 to 1987. The show created by Donald P. Bellisario became a success featuring the use of a high-tech helicopter with stealth characteristics that could fly at the speed of sound fighting criminals under the management of the a secret organization with direction from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The cast of characters featured Jan-Michael Vincent on the lead role as Stringfellow Hawke, Airwolf's pilot with Ernest Borgnine on the supporting role as Dominic Santini, the guy who raised him and his brother after the death of their parents.

A Bell 230 shot from the rear by the author

The Helicopter

Manufactured by Bell Helicopters with first flight made in 1976, the Bell 222 airframe from which the Airwolf helicopter was based was in a class by itself compared to Bell's previous helicopter designs, the Bell 206 Jet Ranger or the Bell 205/UH-1 Huey/Iroquois famous during the Vietnam War. The sleek, aerodynamic airframe of the Bell 222 exemplifies it as a striking helicopter at first glance. Also the twin big main rotors are a bit catchy if noticed more so if you realize how small were the pitch links connecting those rotors to the swash plate. As a twin engine helicopter powered by two 462kW Lycoming LTS 101 650C-3 turboshaft engines, the 222 is quite a powerful workhorse so much that at its maximum speed of 240km/h (130kts) anybody could feel the ease of hopping through places at great distances. Its retractable wheels instead of the usual skids on most helicopters lessens the expected drag and gives the pilot the option of doing a running take-off on a clear taxiway before pulling up at altitude. Four variants of the Bell 222 were built; Bell 222A, Bell 222B, Bell 222B Executive and Bell 222UT, the latter recognizable by its landing skids in place of the retractable landing gears. The standard layout seats a pilot and 7 passengers (1 passenger on the co-pilot seat or pilot/co-pilot and 6 passengers). The Bell 222 was later developed into the Bell 230 with more powerful engines which in turn became the basis for the Bell 430 featuring a four bladed, bearingless, hingeless composite main rotors with longer, stretched fuselage.

Records has it that after the show ended, the Bell 222A helicopter used in the film was sold to a firm in Germany where it was utilized on air ambulance duties. During a thunderstorm in June 1992 it was figured in a crash which killed everyone aboard. As for Jan-Michael Vincent, his life hasn't been any better after the show despite of the big pay he received per Airwolf's airing that took him to 55 episodes from 1984-1986. His alcoholism has been thought by critics as the very reason for the cancellation of the show.


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Comments (12)

Awesome! I will be back tonight to give you a vote up

Must have been a guy show, I do not remember airwolf at all.

Great job on this one, Blue!!! Good show! Voted!

Yes I do remember Airwolf, well done Will.

so cool..this one used to amazed me years ago

An excellent article on a great helicopter and a terrific television series. I still watch the reruns when I catch them on cable. @Brenda, yes, it definitely was a guy show nut I know many women who watched it as well.

I never saw the show before

Deep blue, your articles are always amazing.

I had no idea alcohol played any part in this. I enjoyed, learned and liked this article as I do your presentations of any type.You have done this well.

Great stuff. I remeber the show. There was even an NES game by the same name.

Airwolf was one of my favorite shows. Used to watch it every week in it's day, Well done.

Thanks for the share...voted.