Storm Hawks is set on a fictional world called Atmos, a largely mountainous world consisting of scattered, towering, plateau-like land masses known as terras. Directly below the terras lie the Wastelands, the most dangerous area of Atmos, with infernal fires and wicked creatures. Because of the geography, travel is mostly dependent on flight. The technology of Atmos is based around energy-generating crystals, used to power the various devices in the series. Patrolling the skies of Atmos are the Squadrons, groups of warriors who pilot motorcycle-like vehicles called Skimmers that can semi-transform into flying machines. Each Squadron is led by a Sky Knight and these warriors are loosely managed by the Sky Knight Council.
In the backstory of the series, an evil ruler named Master Cyclonis and her servants, the Cyclonians, threatened Atmos. The original Storm Hawks led the Squadrons in a war against them, but were betrayed and defeated by one of their own (later known as The Dark Ace). Ten years later, the main characters of the series stumble upon the wreckage of the Storm Hawks' carrier, the Condor, and unofficially take on the Storm Hawks name in the hopes of becoming Sky Knights themselves, despite not being old enough to even legally fly the vehicle. Their youth defeats their ambition, however, as neither friend nor foe take them seriously because of it.
This changes when they are brought into conflict with a new Master Cyclonis, granddaughter of the previous one. Among her followers are the Dark Ace, the man who betrayed the original Storm Hawks and now serves Cyclonis as her right-hand man; Snipe, a mace-wielding strong man with a fondness for smashing things; and Snipe's sister, Ravess, an archer who always brings violin-playing henchmen into battle for theme music.