This story was an obvious choice to start this artistic project for two reasons. Firstly, it was the episode that started the ball rolling in the original painting project from 8 years ago and secondly, it was a chance to develop the previous version of this painting I had done for this episode in 2006, which was part of the original project I had to abandon.
As with all the episodes I've painted, I watched the episodes a number of times to access the viability of doing a painting and to pinpoint the core of that particular story. Sometimes it’s obvious what the elements should be, other times the episode is hard to pin down in terms of visuals.
In this case the attack on Red Star Control was central to the painting as was Hawke. Unusually for an American network series, very little on-set photography was taken at the time, so for the most part I relied on off-air still-grabs. I used actual photographs of the Airwolf helicopter as a basis for this shot instead of the actual "pole-flyer" miniature model created by miniature builder, Jack Sessums at the time. Ernie Borgnine was the most difficult character to get right as there are very few portrait shots of him on the 'Pilot' set.
You will note that all the images revolve around Moffet's attack on Red Star Control. That whole scene is key to the whole episode and because the 'Pilot' has so many strands going on, I had to focus on one particular incident and the destruction of Red Star was it. Like all my Airwolf chopper images I tried to avoid a “technical” look to them and made sure they blended into the painting like the other images and didn’t jar the eye.
I took a certain amount of liberty with the background as it’s never established exactly where Hawke's cabin is based and in recent years it’s been noted that most mountain shots and scenery created as the matte paintings by the late Albert Whitlock in the stories were sourced from other countries, especially Austria.