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Pan Am Helicopter Service

Thu Dec 18, 2003 3:05 am

I was looking around airchive.com today and ran across a timetable insert for Pan Am Helicopter Service to the Worldport at JFK from various location in Manhattan. http://www.airchive.com/Timetables%20and%20Maps/Pan%20Am%20Compressed/PAhelicopter_8606.jpg

I'm basically just looking for some info on this, or anyone's recollection of an experience on these connecting flights. I know that many airlines now will offer a complimentary car service to and fro the airport, but this takes the cake in my opinion. Was it a widely used thing, since it was supposably free to First and Clipper pax, or was it just kind of something that was there if you wanted it?

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RE: Pan Am Helicopter Service

Thu Dec 18, 2003 6:20 am

If I'm not mistaken, N.Y. Airways had helicopter service (Boeing Vertol 107's) to all 3 airports in the New York area (EWR, JFK, LGA) and it was a great service if you had minimal time to connect from JFK to say EWR, especially during rush hour. Then Pan Am took it over (using S-61's) and was landing on the roof of the Pan Am Building in NYC until they had a major accident and cancelled service. Now, if I'm not mistaken, one had to take a bus or taxi to connect. Very sad.
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RE: Pan Am Helicopter Service

Thu Dec 18, 2003 11:58 pm

I remember recently seeing an ad in which an airline offered heli connexions for their first class pax. Hmmm, was it MH?

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RE: Pan Am Helicopter Service

Fri Dec 19, 2003 12:03 am

When I lived in New York, I traveled extensively on Pan Am, with a full fare Clipper or First fare Helicopter service was offered as part of the service. After the accident at their HQ service was indeed temporarily suspended, after which there was a service departing from one of Manhaten's east side heliports. I know this, 'cause I took it on December 23 1988, just a few days after the Scotland incident.
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RE: Pan Am Helicopter Service

Fri Dec 19, 2003 12:19 am

Tony Montana (aka Scarface) flies into Manhattan on the Pan Am helicopter in the movie, Scarface.
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RE: Pan Am Helicopter Service

Fri Dec 19, 2003 12:26 am

In Sept of 1986, Pan Am Helicopter offered the following:

E. 60th St. to JFK....13 flights a day.
JFK to E. 60th St.....13 flights
JFK to EWR....9 flights
EWR to JFK...5 flights
EWR To World Trade Center.....5 flights
World Trade Center to JFK....5 flights

All flights were flown on the Westland W30 Helicopter.
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RE: Pan Am Helicopter Service

Fri Dec 19, 2003 12:28 am

The incident, which occurred on the top of the Pan Am Building (now the Met Life Building) happened on May 16, 1977. Either a tire blew or a landing gear collapsed as one of the helicopters ( Sikorsky S61) was about to take off. This caused the blades to impact the helipad, and then all hell broke loose. I don't remember if the body of the craft came off the roof, but all of the blades did. I walked into Grand Central Terminal from the Vanderbilt Avenue entrance about 2 minutes before the incident happened. I heard all of the sirens outside, but being a typical New Yorker, didn't pay much attention to it. It wasn't until I arrived at my destination in Connecticut that I found out what had happened. Four passengers were killed, and several people on Vanderbilt Ave were struck by debris. I think one person on the street was killed also. One blade pierced a building across the street from the Pan Am Building, but I don't remember if anyone was injured.

Here is a some web pages on New York Airways, which operated the service.


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RE: Pan Am Helicopter Service

Fri Dec 19, 2003 12:35 am

Indeed the crash on the roof of the Pan Am building ended the helicopter services. There was a meeting in progress with senior management, talking about the helicopter service. The accident happened and fire and wreckage cascaded down the outside of the bldg, in full sight of the top brass as they looked out the window.
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RE: Pan Am Helicopter Service

Fri Dec 19, 2003 12:46 am

The cause of this accident I beleive was due to corrosion or a crack in one of the sponson strut assemblys which caused the sponson/undercarrige assy to detatch and subsequently the a/c to tip over. I think the a/c did fall off the building.
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RE: Pan Am Helicopter Service

Fri Dec 19, 2003 1:18 am

The helicopter did not fall off the building. There are pictures showing the ship tipped on its side. The pilot and passengers inside the helicopter escaped serious injury, as the fuselage protected them from the flying helicopter blades. However, the passengers who were outside on the helipad itself, as well as on the helicopter stairs (I believe there was one person standing there at the time) were decapitated almost instantly. In addition, pieces of helicopter blade flew off the side of the roof and fell to the avenue below. One piece struck a local woman walking on the ground and killed her as well.

I imagine the accident was much like the helicopter crash on ER a few weeks back, except much more gruesome.
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RE: Pan Am Helicopter Service

Fri Dec 19, 2003 1:45 am

It's too bad that the NY helo services are no more. Back in the early-1970s, I flew a New York Airways S-61 from suburban NJ to JFK - what a thrill!

With post 9/11 security concerns, it is doubtful that scheduled helo services will ever come back.
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RE: Pan Am Helicopter Service

Fri Dec 19, 2003 2:19 am

My brother was working in the Pan Am building at the time of the incident, though not for PA.

He said he remembers only seeing the ems crowds on the street, but didn't see anything flyby his window.
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RE: Helicopter Service

Fri Dec 19, 2003 3:22 am

Chicago, LA, NY, the Bay Area all had helicopter service before deregulation. Fare wasn't too much for connecting passengers; presumably the connecting airlines were subsidizing the helicopters. Presumably once they decided to quit subsidizing that was the end of the helicopters.