He was also in the 1983 television mini-series, Winds Of War, picking up a Golden Globe nomination as the love interest of Ali MacGraw.
Born in 1945 in Denver, Colorado, he starred in such films as The Mechanic in 1972 and Hooper in 1978, in which he played a stuntman opposite Burt Reynolds.
But it was Airwolf, the action-adventure series launched in 1984, that made him a household name.
He played Stringfellow Hawke, a rugged pilot who could pull off aerobatic crime-fighting manoeuvres in an advanced helicopter, and who also played the cello.
His off-screen life was almost as adventurous. A lifelong surfer, he spent the three months after shooting Winds of War sailing the Caribbean.
But in his personal life he navigated stormier waters.
He pleaded guilty in 1997 to a drink driving accident that left him with a broken neck. He was placed in a rehabilitation programme.
He was also charged over pub brawls in the 1980s, receiving probation in one and an acquittal in another. In a separate case, he was acquitted in 1986 of hitting a woman.
In 2000 he was jailed for 60 days in Orange County, California, after admitting violating his probation by appearing drunk in public and assaulting his then girlfriend.
He was married three times and divorced twice. His third wife, Patricia Ann, survives him, along with a daughter from his first marriage.