Max Q
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Landing on top of the Pan Am building

Mon Jul 09, 2018 3:50 am

It’s been many years since the Pan Am name adorned what is now the prudential building zzzzzzz..


And longer still since the rooftop heliport was in use ferrying passengers to and from their ‘Worldport’ at JFK


Anyone ever experience landing at this iconic place?


Must have been an amazing, slightly nerve wracking ? experience
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.


Guns and the love of them by a loud minority are a malignant and deadly cancer inflicted on American society
 
wjcandee
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Re: Landing on top of the Pan Am building

Mon Jul 09, 2018 5:01 am

Never did it myself. Took the same New York Airways helicopter to JFK for TWA from 34th Street, but never from the Pan Am building. I was too young to decide myself to do it when they were still flying there. When I say the same New York Airways helicopter I mean the sikorsky's that they flew. They were a crap operator, and when the service resumed in 1977 with them as the operator using the sikorsky's, one of their helicopters had a terrible accident, flopping over on the roof three months after they restarted the service, killing a bunch of people on the roof and on the street below. The New York papers had a field day with it, and that was the end. Prior to that, in 1965 to 1968, they used Chinooks for the service. It didn't generate enough volume, despite it being incredibly famous, so they ended it initially in 68 before retrying it in 77. If you rent Coogan's Bluff with Clint Eastwood, he arrives, playing a sheriff, in New York and leaves New York from the Pan Am building heliport. The movie gives you a little bit of sense of what it was like. Most people at the time thought it was the coolest thing.
 
Planeflyer
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Re: Landing on top of the Pan Am building

Mon Jul 09, 2018 5:39 am

Just a small point but isn’t this now the MetLife building?
 
Planeflyer
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Re: Landing on top of the Pan Am building

Mon Jul 09, 2018 5:40 am

Just a small point but isn’t this now the MetLife building?
 
Max Q
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Re: Landing on top of the Pan Am building

Mon Jul 09, 2018 6:27 am

Planeflyer wrote:
Just a small point but isn’t this now the MetLife building?



I think you’re right


And I don’t think Chinooks were used in that service, rather a civilian version of the CH 46
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.


Guns and the love of them by a loud minority are a malignant and deadly cancer inflicted on American society
 
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vhtje
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Re: Landing on top of the Pan Am building

Mon Jul 09, 2018 6:30 am

I was in São Paulo last month on business and there is a very evident helicopter taxi service in available. A trip from downtown to GRU was not ridulously priced, either - I was tempted, but ultimately stuck with a ground transfer because the operator does not accept American Express, making it too complicated for me to expense it.

https://www.voom.flights/en

I wonder if Voom might one day come to NYC, if the economics work out?
I only turn left when boarding aircraft. Well, mostly. All right, sometimes. OH OKAY - rarely.
 
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CARST
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Re: Landing on top of the Pan Am building

Mon Jul 09, 2018 6:48 am

This website has some more info on the helipad: https://untappedcities.com/2016/03/07/t ... ng-in-nyc/

Here some photos from "google photos", search-tag "panam building helicopter":

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

wjcandee wrote:
They were a crap operator, and when the service resumed in 1977 with them as the operator using the sikorsky's, one of their helicopters had a terrible accident, flopping over on the roof three months after they restarted the service, killing a bunch of people on the roof and on the street below.


Some phots from the crash:

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Article about the crash: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... -york-city


BTW, fun fact: A "small" double-door of the former PanAm building leading from the street level into the building still has a sign above it saying "Terminal". That's where you entered the PanAm building to check-in for your flight from JFK and then took the evelator up to roof for your cheap (!!!, really!) helicopter-ride to JFK. In todays dollars it was about 40-50 USD for a one-way ride (on top of your airline ticket).
 
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NYPECO
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Re: Landing on top of the Pan Am building

Mon Jul 09, 2018 6:58 am

How did the clean up the crash from the top of the building? I'm wondering how they would remove the helicopter.
 
Max Q
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Re: Landing on top of the Pan Am building

Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:00 am

Great pictures and narrative Carst


Thanks for that, a truly fascinating operation


I wonder what the wind limits at the roof top were for take off and landing


I imagine it was often very turbulent landing there with much wind and the local effect spilling over adjacent buildings
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.


Guns and the love of them by a loud minority are a malignant and deadly cancer inflicted on American society
 
Max Q
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Re: Landing on top of the Pan Am building

Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:01 am

NYPECO wrote:
How did the clean up the crash from the top of the building? I'm wondering how they would remove the helicopter.



I’m guessing they lifted it out with another helicopter
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.


Guns and the love of them by a loud minority are a malignant and deadly cancer inflicted on American society
 
WIederling
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Re: Landing on top of the Pan Am building

Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:07 am

NYPECO wrote:
How did the clean up the crash from the top of the building? I'm wondering how they would remove the helicopter.

Easy:
https://imgur.com/g9qf7Cs

But beware:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IGsErYVgDk
Murphy is an optimist
 
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TheFlyingDisk
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Re: Landing on top of the Pan Am building

Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:18 am

There's a Bloomberg video on this posted last year

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nbz5VFilxY
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Vulindlela
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Re: Landing on top of the Pan Am building

Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:25 am

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=MyXxCCZB5Yk

About how the helicopter was removed from the building... I remembered watching this interview with Richard Serra a while back, and he talks about working with the crew that did it. In the video, between about 28:20 - 30:00 minutes. He says it was lowered over the side of the building in pieces.
"If you take everything I've accomplished in my entire life and condense it down into 1 day, it looks decent!"
 
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airzim
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Re: Landing on top of the Pan Am building

Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:46 am

There was also a Copter Club on the top floor where you could have your steak dinner before your heli flight to JFK.

In the end, I heard it stayed open even after the helicopter service was shut down. By that point, only used by Pan Am employees until the day the airline shut down. With stories like that, no wonder that airline didn’t make it.
 
wjcandee
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Re: Landing on top of the Pan Am building

Mon Jul 09, 2018 8:54 am

I had a case where there was a fire that destroyed several generators and the cooling towers on top of Chase Manhattan Plaza. To remove the debris and bring up the new cooling towers and generators, they'd brought in rigging that they affixed to the top of the 59 Story Tower and lowered stuff over the side and brought it up over the side. It was very expensive, but likely cheaper than helicopters. Given the fear of helicopters that the media Firestorm created, I suspect that no helicopters were used to remove the debris from the Pan Am building. In New York City, there is a lot that is done, amazing stuff really, by professional riggers.
 
WPvsMW
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Re: Landing on top of the Pan Am building

Mon Jul 09, 2018 9:11 am

wj, are you saying the riggers counterbalanced the incoming and outgoing loads? It's possible, and ingenious.
 
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jfklganyc
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Re: Landing on top of the Pan Am building

Mon Jul 09, 2018 10:58 am

Why didnt service resume? I know about the blade killing someone on Park Ave, but as the saying goes “S&$t happens” and life usually goes on.

Was it Pan Ams decision or was a law passed?

Note, NYC looks very old and grimey in these photos.
 
twaconnie
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Re: Landing on top of the Pan Am building

Mon Jul 09, 2018 11:18 am

I remember being at street level at the base of the PA building and watching the chopper take off and could not believe how much noise it made.People coming out of a near buy subway station,were looking a little fear full.l
 
ltbewr
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Re: Landing on top of the Pan Am building

Mon Jul 09, 2018 11:38 am

jfklganyc wrote:
Why didnt service resume? I know about the blade killing someone on Park Ave, but as the saying goes “S&$t happens” and life usually goes on.

Was it Pan Ams decision or was a law passed?

Note, NYC looks very old and grimey in these photos.


I worked in the PanAm building for a law firm from 1990 to 2006. Likely insurers for the helicopter operators, PanAm (who also owned the building at the time) would no longer provide insurance due to the risks of such operations and lawyers probably discouraged it too due to the potential for larger lawsuits.
There was until sometime into the 1990's signage for special 'skylobby' for selected elevator cars and a restaurant that operated until about 2000 at the top of the building. The vehicle ramps around the building could be used to directly access the elevator mezzanine in part for the original helicopter service.
And yes, NYC was grimy at the time as there was still heavy use of coal and 'dirty' #6 'bunker' fuel oil.
 
wjcandee
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Re: Landing on top of the Pan Am building

Mon Jul 09, 2018 1:13 pm

Max Q wrote:
I don’t think Chinooks were used in that service, rather a civilian version of the CH 46


Yeah, you're right. I always thought of them as Chinooks, which is what I called anything made by Boeing/Vertol with tandem rotors. I didn't realize that there was a CH46 and a CH47 until I actually looked it up upon reading your post.
 
Woofbite
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Re: Landing on top of the Pan Am building

Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:04 pm

I suddenly feel very old. I rode between the Pan Am building and JFK three or four times and absolutely loved it. Our offices were on 41st street and a short hike, up the elevator, onto the
copter and out to JFK in about 30 minutes total time. If memory serves, the flights originally went to Worldport were eventually switched to the AA terminal, That is where my flights
were, on the air side where you connected like any other AA passenger on a through ticket. The views lifting off and returning to the Pan Am building were spectacular. The accident was a real shame and it is ironic that it wasn't even due to a flight issue but poor landing gear maintenance.


Max Q wrote:
It’s been many years since the Pan Am name adorned what is now the prudential building zzzzzzz..


And longer still since the rooftop heliport was in use ferrying passengers to and from their ‘Worldport’ at JFK


Anyone ever experience landing at this iconic place?


Must have been an amazing, slightly nerve wracking ? experience
 
LAXffDUB
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Re: Landing on top of the Pan Am building

Mon Jul 09, 2018 10:54 pm

I feel old as well. I grew up in NYC. At the time it was routinely marketed as a competitive option to a taxi between JFK and midtown, along with ease of access to Grand Central Terminal.

I always get nostalgic entering the building from E. 45th Street. The outline of the PanAm logo is still visible on the exterior wall.
 
zone6
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Re: Landing on top of the Pan Am building

Tue Jul 10, 2018 1:47 am

I took it several times. The equipment I remember is Sikorsky S62, Rode on it once with Sonny Liston, not a lot of conversation as I recall.
 
LAXffDUB
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Re: Landing on top of the Pan Am building

Wed Jul 11, 2018 10:36 pm

LAXffDUB wrote:
I feel old as well. I grew up in NYC. At the time it was routinely marketed as a competitive option to a taxi between JFK and midtown, along with ease of access to Grand Central Terminal.

I always get nostalgic entering the building from E. 45th Street. The outline of the PanAm logo is still visible on the exterior wall.


Forgot to mention Juan Trippe still has a presence in the building. There is a bust of his likeness in the public lobby along with artwork commemorating PanAm and the building's role.

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