Kavanagh was a petty criminal for most of his adult life, in and out of prisons. At one point he was approached by representatives of the corporation Meta/Tech, who were looking for test subjects for genetic experimentation. Feeling he had nothing left to lose, Kavanagh agreed to become one of those test subjects.
Through these experiments, Kavanagh became a hybrid human/pterodactyl, complete with working wings that enabled him to fly. His strength was also increased to super-human levels, and he was equipped with talons on his hands and feet that could rip and tear flesh to shreds.
Before the Meta/Tech supervisors who had authorized the experiments could put Kavanagh and the other test subjects to whatever uses they had in mind, the company was purchased by Count Etienne du Vipere, or COUNT VIPER. Count Viper immediately sent Kavanagh into battle with Katar Hol, the ex-patriate from the planet Thanagar who had become the third Hawkman. It was apparently Viper's hope that Kavanagh could either defeat Hawkman in battle, or at least injure him severely enough so that Viper could finish the job. Instead, Hawkman defeated Kavanagh with some ease. Kavanagh was then convicted of assorted crimes and imprisoned at the Slab, the Midwestern federal prison for super-villains.
While there, Kavanagh proved to be an inveterate troublemaker, taking part in several disruptions including the mass escape engineered by the Joker in the "Last Laugh" event.
During his time incarcerated in Slabside Penitentiary, Airstryke was part of a massive prison break organized by Brother Blood. Blood gave prisoners the option to escape as part of the massive army he was building, providing they remain in service to the Church of Blood. Airstryke spoke out against not wanting to be assimilated into this cult, and was immediately shot through the head as a warning to others. 
- Flight: Airstryke can fly by way of genetically altered reptilian wings.
- Superhuman Strength: Airstryke's strength surpasses superhuman levels.
Airstryke possesses predatory instincts and reptilian intelligence, which aid him during battle.
- 8 Appearances of William Kavanagh (New Earth)
- 3 Images featuring William Kavanagh (New Earth)
- Quotations by or about William Kavanagh (New Earth)
- Character Gallery: William Kavanagh (New Earth)
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