When tai-pan Ian Dunross learned in Noble House that the North Sea may soon be wide open for oil exploration, he sent Andrew Gavallan to Scotland to quietly buy up real estate in Aberdeen so they would be positioned to take advantage of this trend. The North Sea oil rigs, once built, are serviced by helicopter, which leads to Gavallan being involved in the helicopter and oil services industries. These become main business ventures of Struan's in Iran during the 1970s, as depicted in Whirlwind .
Gavallan, based in Scotland, runs S-G Helicopter company operating in Iran during the Shah's reign. When Khomeini comes to power, Gavallan must get his pilots and their families, and his valuable helicopters, and the spare parts for the helicopters (of equal or greater value than the aircraft) out of the riot-torn country. Complicating matters is his power struggle with his company's secret owner, the Noble House of Hong Kong. The pilots' escape efforts form the basic story and the action sweeps across many lives: lovers, spies, fanatics, revolutionaries, friends and betrayers. British, Finnish, American, and Iranian are all caught up in a deadly religious and political upheaval, portraying the chilling and bewildering encounters when Westernized lifestyle clashes with harsh ancient traditions.
Aircraft used by S-G Helicopters throughout the story include Bell 212, Bell 206, Aérospatiale Alouette III helicopters and British Aerospace BAe 125 business jet.
The settings for the story are the western and southwestern parts of Iran, as well as neighboring Persian Gulf states, Turkey to Lake Van, and the environs of Aberdeen, Scotland.
Actual locations within Iran include Tehran (including Qasr Prison, Evin Prison, Galeg Morghi, and Doshan Tappeh Air Base), Tabriz, Qazvin, Mount Sabalan, the Zagros Mountains, Lengeh, Bandar Delam, Siri, the Dez Dam and Kharg island.
Fictional locations include the city of Kowiss, Yazdek village and the safe haven emirate of Al-Shargaz, meaning protector .