Max Q
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Tower Air

Fri Aug 02, 2019 1:52 pm

This airline always had a pretty sketchy
reputation, don’t know that much about them other than they flew only the 747 Classic I believe


Anyone have any Tower Air experiences, stories ?
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.


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LVISA
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Re: Tower Air

Fri Aug 02, 2019 2:19 pm

They also had DC-8's, (-62's if memory serves). I flew with them a couple of times from NYC to Miami in the late 70's and they were great! Cheaper than Eastern and every passenger was offered a bubbly drink, (mimosa or champagne I believe), before departure. My son and daughter flew with them years later in the 747's and service at the airport and on board had badly deteriorated by then. Too bad, loved seeing the planes in JFK and MIA.
 
flyjay123
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Re: Tower Air

Fri Aug 02, 2019 2:36 pm

I flew with them once, it was a sub for Aer Lingus Boston - Shannon - Dublin. Seating sermed spacious on the 747 classic, with coach seating right to the nose! But it was old and worn. Service wasn't great either from what I can remember.
 
Cointrin330
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Re: Tower Air

Fri Aug 02, 2019 2:55 pm

Tower Air was based at JFK Airport and flew 747 classics (inherited from Pan Am and TWA). It flew out of a dilapidated, dedicated terminal in the cargo area, and served I think LAX, SFO, LAS, BRU, CDG, TLV, SDQ, SJU, and also operated military charters. Tired, old planes (very old) and a spotty reputation for service and punctuality.
 
Worldair1
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Re: Tower Air

Fri Aug 02, 2019 3:15 pm

Used to compete with them back in the 90's when I was with World Airways. They were near the lowest rung of the ladder with regards to chartering experience. Shoddy airplane, spotty service, questionable maintenance practices. Our ops chief at JFK came from Tower and he told a lot of scary stories about what went on in the inside. I think at one point the FAA stepped in when the owner installed his 20 something son as VP of operations.
 
Viper911
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Re: Tower Air

Fri Aug 02, 2019 3:23 pm

LVISA wrote:
They also had DC-8's, (-62's if memory serves). I flew with them a couple of times from NYC to Miami in the late 70's and they were great! Cheaper than Eastern and every passenger was offered a bubbly drink, (mimosa or champagne I believe), before departure. My son and daughter flew with them years later in the 747's and service at the airport and on board had badly deteriorated by then. Too bad, loved seeing the planes in JFK and MIA.


IIRC they never operated DC-8s, only 747's and they were established in 1983, maybe you're mixing it with some other airline.

Viper911
 
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FCOTSTW
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Re: Tower Air

Fri Aug 02, 2019 3:25 pm

Tower Air had a strong relationship with the Department of Defense, as it shuttled military personnel to and from Europe first and to and from Middle East later, during the first Gulf war. As of passenger services, I remember having charter flights to CIA (Rome' s secondary airport), all economy.
Last edited by FCOTSTW on Fri Aug 02, 2019 3:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
Delta717
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Re: Tower Air

Fri Aug 02, 2019 3:26 pm

I have a vague memory of being forced to deplane via mobile staircase in the pouring rain after a MIA-JFK leg. Stories like that are pretty standard - the 747s were falling apart.
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Tower Air

Fri Aug 02, 2019 3:38 pm

I’ve known or met a bunch Tower Air guys. When they were just doing charter, they had a nice niche-6 or so 747s doing Haji, DOD and on-offs where the customer needed a 747. One captain on my J/S at EAL had just taken a oil exploration team to RAF Mount Pleasant, FI. That sort of stuff. Another guy in my squadron said that a normal 121 pilot wouldn’t last a week. His second trip was to North Korea for the UN; then Haj work out of Jeddah. They did flood relief in Mozambique hauling aid workers.

Then, the kid tried scheduled flying and lost the operation. Scheduled 747 is hard and the old TW and PA planes were a maintenance nightmare. Lots of LLBG during the second intifada. One of their guys said it was a entertaining to bet on the bus explosions. Several are now at DL. I met a purser on a NW flight who said he’d never have left if it stayed in business—fun work and great crews. The pilot contract paid pretty well but you worked for it.
 
BravoOne
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Re: Tower Air

Fri Aug 02, 2019 3:38 pm

Have several friends who flew for them. Great stories, but a crazy operational agenda.
 
skystar767
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Re: Tower Air

Fri Aug 02, 2019 4:03 pm

Here we go again with the tower air bashing again. Guys they went out in 2000. Was a great small company base out of JFK. They did from White House press to hajj flights for Saudia,air India and many others. If you worked for them you had fun. Hard trips long delays but the layover was like no other airline in the world.
 
StTim
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Re: Tower Air

Fri Aug 02, 2019 4:10 pm

The misfortune to fly them when they were wet leasing a classic to Zambia Airways. Very very late so missed connection in Lusaka to Harare. Next flight was 27 hours later...
 
kabq737
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Re: Tower Air

Fri Aug 02, 2019 4:12 pm

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
I’ve known or met a bunch Tower Air guys. When they were just doing charter, they had a nice niche-6 or so 747s doing Haji, DOD and on-offs where the customer needed a 747. One captain on my J/S at EAL had just taken a oil exploration team to RAF Mount Pleasant, FI. That sort of stuff. Another guy in my squadron said that a normal 121 pilot wouldn’t last a week. His second trip was to North Korea for the UN; then Haj work out of Jeddah. They did flood relief in Mozambique hauling aid workers.

Then, the kid tried scheduled flying and lost the operation. Scheduled 747 is hard and the old TW and PA planes were a maintenance nightmare. Lots of LLBG during the second intifada. One of their guys said it was a entertaining to bet on the bus explosions. Several are now at DL. I met a purser on a NW flight who said he’d never have left if it stayed in business—fun work and great crews. The pilot contract paid pretty well but you worked for it.


Wow that is some fascinating stuff! Were there any other carriers competing with them for this type of work or were they truly the only game in town when it came to those missions? Who took over that flying when they went out of business?
Been on: 320, 321, 333, 733, 73G, 738, 739, 744, 752, 763, 764, 772, 789, C208, CR7, CR9, BE20, MD83, MD88, MD90, E70, E75, E90, TRIM
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GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Tower Air

Fri Aug 02, 2019 4:19 pm

There’s always been room in the market for small charter operators like Seaboard, ONA, World and Transamerica. I flew with an EAL pilot that worked for Transamerica—same deal and in the 70s they were making over a $1 million per DC-8-63. Only 8-10 on the fleet but nothing moved until the charter was paid. As a scheduler in my department joked, “ the most profitable charter is the one that cancels within 36 hours of execution.” No costs and large cancellation penalty.

The problem always is another operator comes in and the thin market races to the bottom or the DOD ends the contingency and stops chartering. Or, they think they can compete with the established airlines with cheap fares flying expensive planes.

Lot of ex-EAL and McGuire 141 pilots at Tower including John Lithgow’s brother. Also a small cadre of Iran Air 747 captains


Ernie Gann covered it in Fate is The Hunter.

GF
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Tower Air

Fri Aug 02, 2019 4:25 pm

I suppose Omni, Kalitta, Southern Air, Western Global, those operators are doing the work now. Flying Tiger did Haj work with two planes
 
MalevTU134
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Re: Tower Air

Fri Aug 02, 2019 5:12 pm

viewtopic.php?t=601949

In this thread from a few years ago, you will find lots of stories. And in there, there are even links to other, even older threads.

I flewcwithbthem a few times ARN-JFK-ARN back in the 80s and early 90s. I seem to remember the routing was JFK-CPH-ARN-JFK. No major issues at all with them, as I can recall.
 
727LOVER
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Re: Tower Air

Fri Aug 02, 2019 5:20 pm

They had a nice livery.



Weren't they publicly traded at one point?
"We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope." - Martin Luther King, Jr.
 
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seabosdca
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Re: Tower Air

Fri Aug 02, 2019 5:34 pm

It's one of the world's small miracles that Tower Air never had a crash, given the state of their 747s. We don't have any passenger operators in the US today with such poor maintenance practices.
 
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flyingturtle
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Re: Tower Air

Fri Aug 02, 2019 6:10 pm

It's always a riot to read about Tower Air. You get more adventure than you pay for.
Reading accident reports is what calms me down
 
MR27122
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Re: Tower Air

Fri Aug 02, 2019 6:14 pm

I flew Tower in late 90's LAX-JFK. I recall paying a price equal to other's on the route "economy" fare for Tower "First Class". If my recall is correct, they flew ought of the LAX International Terminal. Uneventful & unexceptional. The seat's were large "relic"-era First Class seats. The "meal" was in a silver TV-dinner like foil container & was like carrots/peas/chicken/brown sauce (it was more about color contrast---Orange-Green-White-Brown---than taste!!). The only noteworthy "recollect" was the JFK Terminal. It was mid April (...and it can/will get cold in NYC in April..). The "terminal"---it was more like an indiscreet windowless square building was chaotic. It had a crush of people due to a delay or something & even with all those people it was frigid inside. I think the Tower "terminal" wasn't even referred to as a "terminal"---it was like Building 8 our something. It was striking in so much as, if you were to picture a totally indiscreet building for a larger "anchor" store in a low level strip-mall...It'd be identical to the Tower Air JFK "building" as long as you made the ceilings all of 8' high. Exiting the "building" my fiance was right in front...but before we zipped away...I noticed a taxi-line with like 30-40pax, like 4 taxi's in total, & nobody coordinating the queue...in other words, chaotic!
 
N649DL
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Re: Tower Air

Fri Aug 02, 2019 6:33 pm

I was supposed to fly them FLL-JFK in November 1999 coming back from a family vacation in the Bahamas. We flew a DL 727 down and supposed to be a Tower Air 747 on the way home. The flight was over 8 hours late on a Sunday and my parents wanted us back in school the next day so we never got to fly them. My parents paid cash to fly Spirit FLL-LGA which was on another relic DC-9 with mismatched seats and seat covers throughout the entire aircraft. All other flights to the NYC area that Thanksgiving were completely booked up as well.
 
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millionsofmiles
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Re: Tower Air

Fri Aug 02, 2019 7:19 pm

IIRC, Tower’s terminal was in a building that Pan Am used as it’s “Pan Am Terminal 2” to handle certain flights while the Worldport was being built in the very early 70s.

IIRC, it handled Pan Am’s Caribbean flights.

“Pan Am’s Terminal 2” of early 1970s vintage is not to be confused with the current Terminal 2 in the central terminal area.
 
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millionsofmiles
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Re: Tower Air

Fri Aug 02, 2019 7:22 pm

MR27122 wrote:
I flew Tower in late 90's LAX-JFK. I recall paying a price equal to other's on the route "economy" fare for Tower "First Class". If my recall is correct, they flew ought of the LAX International Terminal. Uneventful & unexceptional. The seat's were large "relic"-era First Class seats. The "meal" was in a silver TV-dinner like foil container & was like carrots/peas/chicken/brown sauce (it was more about color contrast---Orange-Green-White-Brown---than taste!!). The only noteworthy "recollect" was the JFK Terminal. It was mid April (...and it can/will get cold in NYC in April..). The "terminal"---it was more like an indiscreet windowless square building was chaotic. It had a crush of people due to a delay or something & even with all those people it was frigid inside. I think the Tower "terminal" wasn't even referred to as a "terminal"---it was like Building 8 our something. It was striking in so much as, if you were to picture a totally indiscreet building for a larger "anchor" store in a low level strip-mall...It'd be identical to the Tower Air JFK "building" as long as you made the ceilings all of 8' high. Exiting the "building" my fiance was right in front...but before we zipped away...I noticed a taxi-line with like 30-40pax, like 4 taxi's in total, & nobody coordinating the queue...in other words, chaotic!


How is a building “indiscreet”?
 
wjcandee
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Re: Tower Air

Fri Aug 02, 2019 7:31 pm

A pilot I know claims that when he flew for Tower it wasn't so much that he ever felt imperiled by the maintenance, but rather inconvenienced.

Like the time he had to hand-fly one of their 747s across the Pond.

To me, that's a symptom of a bigger problem.
 
wjcandee
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Re: Tower Air

Fri Aug 02, 2019 7:37 pm

For the person who asked about competitors on the charter side, World was the primary one, particularly on the AMC work.

Except World had a proud heritage of quality (and daring) dating back to when former boxer Ed Daly founded it. He hired the right kind of pilots for the work, who enjoyed being handed a credit card and sent to God Knows Where with a lot of personal responsibility for accomplishing the mission. If World's 727 that flew the Last Flight From DaNang (famous CBS News piece during the Vietnam War, available on YouTube) hadn't been skillfully-crewed and properly-maintained, it never would have made it. Probably still holds the record for the number of persons carried on a single 727 flight. I still get misty watching Captain Ken Healy dispassionately flying that 727 with a lot of things wrong (wings shot up, body in a wheel well, cargo doors open with people inside, losing fuel, vastly-overloaded), as calmly as if he was doing a puddle-jump to Peoria. It was a remarkable carrier, with remarkable people, right to the end.

Best copy of CBS report: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36lLBbhnkZU
 
Bealine251
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Re: Tower Air

Fri Aug 02, 2019 8:26 pm

I flew on a Tower Air 747 from Gatwick to Barbados in the late 1980s. It was a package holiday so charter flight. Seen to recall the aircraft was N601FF. My 3 memories of the flight out was firstly on take off looking out of the window and watching the two engines on the starboard wing swinging around as we climbed out of Gatwick, the second was walking around the cabin mid flight with my young son and the front part of the cabin being full of cigarette smoke and finally on arrival seeing the fight crew leave the aircraft chewing gum. Guess the swinging engines (never seen that on any other aircraft since) and the cigeratte smoke where quite normal in the 1980s. They got us to our holiday and back again safely so no problem. After that I always had a soft spot for them and was sad to see them go.
 
BravoOne
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Re: Tower Air

Fri Aug 02, 2019 8:34 pm

The one pilot I worked with from Tower just checked out at UPS on the 747-8 about 9 months ago. Tragically he fell off the docks in Seattle this winter while boarding his boat down by the locks in Seattle, hit his head and drowned. Only 50 years old. Really tragic. He had flown 747 Captain at Tower before turning 30.

Someone tossed Seaboard into the same category as Tower. I don't think so since they had been around for many years and for the most part flew only the latest equipment. Also worth noting is Seabaord, never had a fatal accident, and was the first US airline to hire a black pilot, (August "Auggie" Martin) back in the early 50's

I have to wonder about former Irainian 747 Captains at Tower as the owner was Jewish and a devoted defender of the Jewish state. Maybe, but?

I flew a lot of MAC charters during the 67/68 time frame. World, TIA, FTL, SWA, ONA, CAL, BNF, Capitol, and Pan Am to name a few, were the power players in the MAC charter business in those days. Tower would have been a player had they been around.
 
MR27122
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Re: Tower Air

Fri Aug 02, 2019 8:59 pm

millionsofmiles wrote:
MR27122 wrote:
I flew Tower in late 90's LAX-JFK. I recall paying a price equal to other's on the route "economy" fare for Tower "First Class". If my recall is correct, they flew ought of the LAX International Terminal. Uneventful & unexceptional. The seat's were large "relic"-era First Class seats. The "meal" was in a silver TV-dinner like foil container & was like carrots/peas/chicken/brown sauce (it was more about color contrast---Orange-Green-White-Brown---than taste!!). The only noteworthy "recollect" was the JFK Terminal. It was mid April (...and it can/will get cold in NYC in April..). The "terminal"---it was more like an indiscreet windowless square building was chaotic. It had a crush of people due to a delay or something & even with all those people it was frigid inside. I think the Tower "terminal" wasn't even referred to as a "terminal"---it was like Building 8 our something. It was striking in so much as, if you were to picture a totally indiscreet building for a larger "anchor" store in a low level strip-mall...It'd be identical to the Tower Air JFK "building" as long as you made the ceilings all of 8' high. Exiting the "building" my fiance was right in front...but before we zipped away...I noticed a taxi-line with like 30-40pax, like 4 taxi's in total, & nobody coordinating the queue...in other words, chaotic!


How is a building “indiscreet”?


It wasn't, my bad. Composed quickly....inconspicuous. It was a "just" a building @ JFK w/ a "Tower Air" referenced on like a single road sign & was prior to the central airport & airline terminals. On the LAX end I figured we'd be bused out to a remote stand....we weren't, plane was @ a gate.
 
LAXffDUB
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Re: Tower Air

Fri Aug 02, 2019 9:38 pm

MR27122 wrote:
millionsofmiles wrote:
MR27122 wrote:
I flew Tower in late 90's LAX-JFK. I recall paying a price equal to other's on the route "economy" fare for Tower "First Class". If my recall is correct, they flew ought of the LAX International Terminal. Uneventful & unexceptional. The seat's were large "relic"-era First Class seats. The "meal" was in a silver TV-dinner like foil container & was like carrots/peas/chicken/brown sauce (it was more about color contrast---Orange-Green-White-Brown---than taste!!). The only noteworthy "recollect" was the JFK Terminal. It was mid April (...and it can/will get cold in NYC in April..). The "terminal"---it was more like an indiscreet windowless square building was chaotic. It had a crush of people due to a delay or something & even with all those people it was frigid inside. I think the Tower "terminal" wasn't even referred to as a "terminal"---it was like Building 8 our something. It was striking in so much as, if you were to picture a totally indiscreet building for a larger "anchor" store in a low level strip-mall...It'd be identical to the Tower Air JFK "building" as long as you made the ceilings all of 8' high. Exiting the "building" my fiance was right in front...but before we zipped away...I noticed a taxi-line with like 30-40pax, like 4 taxi's in total, & nobody coordinating the queue...in other words, chaotic!


How is a building “indiscreet”?


It wasn't, my bad. Composed quickly....inconspicuous. It was a "just" a building @ JFK w/ a "Tower Air" referenced on like a single road sign & was prior to the central airport & airline terminals. On the LAX end I figured we'd be bused out to a remote stand....we weren't, plane was @ a gate.


Their "terminal" was not part of the regular complex (T1-T8). It was on the edge of the airport property near the cargo hangers of other carriers. My experiences passing through it in the early 90s could only be described as ranging from organized chaos to outright anarchy. At the time I couldn't help but think of the impression that maelstrom left on arriving passengers as they saw signs welcoming them to NY!
 
DDR
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Re: Tower Air

Fri Aug 02, 2019 9:52 pm

I remember hearing stories about the police having to be called because of near rioting in the Tower Air "terminal" because of delayed and canceled flights. Does anyone know if this true, or just urban legend? Also, does anyone have pics of the JFK hanger/terminal that Tower used?
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Tower Air

Fri Aug 02, 2019 9:53 pm

BravoOne wrote:
The one pilot I worked with from Tower just checked out at UPS on the 747-8 about 9 months ago. Tragically he fell off the docks in Seattle this winter while boarding his boat down by the locks in Seattle, hit his head and drowned. Only 50 years old. Really tragic. He had flown 747 Captain at Tower before turning 30.

Someone tossed Seaboard into the same category as Tower. I don't think so since they had been around for many years and for the most part flew only the latest equipment. Also worth noting is Seabaord, never had a fatal accident, and was the first US airline to hire a black pilot, (August "Auggie" Martin) back in the early 50's

I have to wonder about former Irainian 747 Captains at Tower as the owner was Jewish and a devoted defender of the Jewish state. Maybe, but?

I flew a lot of MAC charters during the 67/68 time frame. World, TIA, FTL, SWA, ONA, CAL, BNF, Capitol, and Pan Am to name a few, were the power players in the MAC charter business in those days. Tower would have been a player had they been around.


My understanding from friends was they needed the work and had the skills. Iran has a significant Jewish population at one and their experience was very valuable. The owner was an Iraqi Jew, so clearly he understood the ME.

That aside, the stereotype of Jews and Muslims inside of ME is a more modern construct. I’m down in Florida moving my mother into assisted living. For many years she worked for a Polish Jew who lived in Palestine before and during WW II, even was an officer in the IDF during 1948. None of that prevented him from smuggling across the Sinai into Egypt. His son and I shared some old stories of dad the other night. Sparked up mom to remember Joe.

GF
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Tower Air

Fri Aug 02, 2019 9:59 pm

DDR wrote:
I remember hearing stories about the police having to be called because of near rioting in the Tower Air "terminal" because of delayed and canceled flights. Does anyone know if this true, or just urban legend? Also, does anyone have pics of the JFK hanger/terminal that Tower used?


I heard similar stories from a F/A that worked for them. Maybe embellished, but mostly true.
 
BravoOne
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Re: Tower Air

Fri Aug 02, 2019 10:10 pm

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
BravoOne wrote:
The one pilot I worked with from Tower just checked out at UPS on the 747-8 about 9 months ago. Tragically he fell off the docks in Seattle this winter while boarding his boat down by the locks in Seattle, hit his head and drowned. Only 50 years old. Really tragic. He had flown 747 Captain at Tower before turning 30.

Someone tossed Seaboard into the same category as Tower. I don't think so since they had been around for many years and for the most part flew only the latest equipment. Also worth noting is Seabaord, never had a fatal accident, and was the first US airline to hire a black pilot, (August "Auggie" Martin) back in the early 50's

I have to wonder about former Irainian 747 Captains at Tower as the owner was Jewish and a devoted defender of the Jewish state. Maybe, but?

I flew a lot of MAC charters during the 67/68 time frame. World, TIA, FTL, SWA, ONA, CAL, BNF, Capitol, and Pan Am to name a few, were the power players in the MAC charter business in those days. Tower would have been a player had they been around.


My understanding from friends was they needed the work and had the skills. Iran has a significant Jewish population at one and their experience was very valuable. The owner was an Iraqi Jew, so clearly he understood the ME.

That aside, the stereotype of Jews and Muslims inside of ME is a more modern construct. I’m down in Florida moving my mother into assisted living. For many years she worked for a Polish Jew who lived in Palestine before and during WW II, even was an officer in the IDF during 1948. None of that prevented him from smuggling across the Sinai into Egypt. His son and I shared some old stories of dad the other night. Sparked up mom to remember Joe.

GF



Probably very true as my experience when you get bunch of pilots together they seem to get along well inspire of other differences. Some of my best expereinces have been in the ME working with former Pakistan pilots. Very nice, friendly and professional.
 
wmblanco
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Re: Tower Air

Fri Aug 02, 2019 10:17 pm

They served GRU for a time.
 
wjcandee
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Re: Tower Air

Fri Aug 02, 2019 11:05 pm

 
soflaflyer
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Re: Tower Air

Sat Aug 03, 2019 12:54 am

I was a Pax Service Supervisor for US in MIA and they used a gate next to us. Wasn't uncommon for them to have passengers complaining to their FAs upon deplaning; they would usually just ignore them and walk off. Some pax would come up to us to complain or look for help. I remember an elderly lady in a wheelchair that they deplaned and left alone at the gate, we had to help her get to the folks waiting for her. Sketchy service from my experience.
 
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millionsofmiles
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Re: Tower Air

Sat Aug 03, 2019 12:55 am

LAXffDUB wrote:
MR27122 wrote:
millionsofmiles wrote:

How is a building “indiscreet”?


It wasn't, my bad. Composed quickly....inconspicuous. It was a "just" a building @ JFK w/ a "Tower Air" referenced on like a single road sign & was prior to the central airport & airline terminals. On the LAX end I figured we'd be bused out to a remote stand....we weren't, plane was @ a gate.


Their "terminal" was not part of the regular complex (T1-T8). It was on the edge of the airport property near the cargo hangers of other carriers. My experiences passing through it in the early 90s could only be described as ranging from organized chaos to outright anarchy. At the time I couldn't help but think of the impression that maelstrom left on arriving passengers as they saw signs welcoming them to NY!


Unfortunately, you lack the historical depth to know that the early 1970s (1970-1972) “Pan Am Terminal 2” was NOT in the central terminal area but was attached to Pan Am’s hangar complex.

The circa 1970-1972 “Pan Am Terminal 2” was, in fact , the building which became the Tower Air Terminal.

A little more attention to detail when you are reading might be helpful. I specifically stated that the early 1970s “Pan Am Terminal 2” was not in the central terminal area, but you apparently missed that in your zeal to try to correct something that was not wrong.
 
KBUF
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Re: Tower Air

Sat Aug 03, 2019 3:59 am

The only memory I have of them is their cameo in Liar Liar.
"Starting today, the Buffalo Sabres' reason for existence will be to win a Stanley Cup."-Terry Pegula, February 22, 2011
 
bsbisland
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Re: Tower Air

Sat Aug 03, 2019 4:41 am

wmblanco wrote:
They served GRU for a time.


In the 90s there were lots of charter flights from Brazil to Florida and that was quite common to see their 747s at GRU and other Brazilian airports for those charters, but I don't remember them serving GRU regurlarly.
 
DLBOIFIN
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Re: Tower Air

Sat Aug 03, 2019 10:37 am

I flew with them in December 1990 from Helsinki to Miami and back for two weeks pre-Christmas family vacation in Florida. I remember the 747's being pretty outdated already then and on the return flight there was this chiming sound in the cabin during the take-off roll. The crew was super nice and there was plenty of food and drinks available so I only have good memories from these flights.
 
Chasensfo
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Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2013 2:07 am

Re: Tower Air

Sat Aug 03, 2019 11:33 am

Echoing what others have said, pilot wise, I always heard great things about flying for Tower Air. Athens became a frequent layover and it was common to see 2 Tower Air 747s on the ground at once there. I used to work with the former SFO/OAK station manager. Once scheduled flights were started, Tower Air ran an ORY-OAK-PPT route(similar to French Bee today) for a while, and the loads were very good I am told. I think they may have run the flight through SFO at one point but I'm not 100% sure. Though TLV, ATH, and others were served from the East Coast, most of the domestic US flying was to/from JFK, and both SFO and LAX were regularly served on this route for many years. In addition to JFK, my 1995 OAG shows transcon flights operated from BWI as well, with a once weekly flight to SFO I seem to remember. I recall a scheduled ANC flight also, but I don't remember what the route was. There were still plenty of charters, especially military charters both to Europe and onwards from Travis AFB(SUU) to Japan and Korea. There were also a noteworthy few charters to the old ENFB airport in Oslo where 747s were very rare, and 2 arrived at once on at least on occasion! Later in the 1990s, Tower Air also had a cargo operation with freighters.



Image

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At SFO, they bounced around a bit. I remember for a short while Tower Air parked on Terminal 1 gate 25 which was a wedged in corner gate and the nose was right up against the terminal, looked very odd from my parents' house in Millbrae as well as I don't recall TWA 747s using that gate in the 1990s(though maybe they did). Tower Air then moved to the old International Terminal(T2 today) and then finally to T3 concourse E where they parked on an American gate. I used to love visiting the airport for my grandparents' frequent Shuttle by United trips to RNO and running over to the Tower Air gate to watch the plane arrive or be loaded up. I actually seem to recall a few times the flight had cancelled with the plane sitting there(hours before departure) and there were already angry pax gathering haha.

As for the condition of the aircraft, I hear it was pretty bad. Planes broke all the time, I think the flight TOW20 from SFO-JFK was a 2100 or 2130 departure, yet when I worked in a former FAA tower at SFO I found a 1990s "Noise Curfew Violation Log" and flight TOW20 was listed almost nightly departing between 0000-0300! A friend of mine was flying F-117s in Korea or Japan holding short for a landing Tower Air 747 once in the early 1990s and watched a flap fall right off the aircraft on short final! He and his wingman actually relayed info as to where it happened. Yikes.

The airline had quite a few hybrids and livery variations, here are the known examples painted for flight simulator:
747-100:
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747-200:
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A storied airline, that is for sure, but I understand why they have a bad reputation passenger wise.
 
Strato2
Posts: 423
Joined: Sat Sep 24, 2016 3:52 pm

Re: Tower Air

Sat Aug 03, 2019 1:06 pm

DLBOIFIN wrote:
I flew with them in December 1990 from Helsinki to Miami and back for two weeks pre-Christmas family vacation in Florida. I remember the 747's being pretty outdated already then and on the return flight there was this chiming sound in the cabin during the take-off roll. The crew was super nice and there was plenty of food and drinks available so I only have good memories from these flights.


Took exactly the same flight on 12/1990. What a coincidence! Remember being seated in the middle row when leaving Helsinki and the overpovering smell of shit. I guess they had made some mistake when emptying the toilets.
 
MR27122
Posts: 93
Joined: Sat May 06, 2017 3:00 am

Re: Tower Air

Sat Aug 03, 2019 2:40 pm

millionsofmiles wrote:
LAXffDUB wrote:
MR27122 wrote:

It wasn't, my bad. Composed quickly....inconspicuous. It was a "just" a building @ JFK w/ a "Tower Air" referenced on like a single road sign & was prior to the central airport & airline terminals. On the LAX end I figured we'd be bused out to a remote stand....we weren't, plane was @ a gate.


Their "terminal" was not part of the regular complex (T1-T8). It was on the edge of the airport property near the cargo hangers of other carriers. My experiences passing through it in the early 90s could only be described as ranging from organized chaos to outright anarchy. At the time I couldn't help but think of the impression that maelstrom left on arriving passengers as they saw signs welcoming them to NY!


Unfortunately, you lack the historical depth to know that the early 1970s (1970-1972) “Pan Am Terminal 2” was NOT in the central terminal area but was attached to Pan Am’s hangar complex.

The circa 1970-1972 “Pan Am Terminal 2” was, in fact , the building which became the Tower Air Terminal.

A little more attention to detail when you are reading might be helpful. I specifically stated that the early 1970s “Pan Am Terminal 2” was not in the central terminal area, but you apparently missed that in your zeal to try to correct something that was not wrong.


Nothing like a good 'ole Tower Air JFK terminal discussion that get's personal!! Unfortunately, "historical depth" isn't the topic....& the only date reference is "early 90". In your "zeal" to respond (correct/attack?)----you failed to note that the first 2 sentences are absolute fact & the remainder of the post is rooted in personal recollection/sentiments/perception.

Per Wiki
Tower Air's main base of scheduled operations was John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.[5] In the mid-1980s, the airline operated from the British Airways terminal at JFK (now Terminal 7).[6] In the early 1990s, it operated from the former Eastern terminal. In 1993, Tower Air renovated and expanded Building 213, a former Pan Am hangar, to serve as its dedicated JFK terminal, adding three finger gates in 1995.


If your objective is absolute historical precision....I don't know when the "early 90's" (1990-?) transition to the "mid 90's"(1995-?). Unfortunately, until you source it otherwise---No reference is made to Pan Am pre 1993, only BA & EA. My personal recall was that the 1993 renovated/expanded Tower Air JFK Terminal was so inconspicuous it lacked Airline Signage to the degree that only a green w/ white letter road-side sign existed w/ "Tower Air" & an arrow for the turn-off to the 1993 "new" Terminal b/c the "building" was so far from the perimeter of primary JFK Terminals (i.e. The '93 Tower Terminal was before the first airline specific terminal signage @ JFK...which I believe was for the AA Terminal).
 
superjeff
Posts: 1242
Joined: Fri Feb 05, 2010 2:14 am

Re: Tower Air

Sat Aug 03, 2019 2:57 pm

Cointrin330 wrote:
Tower Air was based at JFK Airport and flew 747 classics (inherited from Pan Am and TWA). It flew out of a dilapidated, dedicated terminal in the cargo area, and served I think LAX, SFO, LAS, BRU, CDG, TLV, SDQ, SJU, and also operated military charters. Tired, old planes (very old) and a spotty reputation for service and punctuality.



They also acquired at least one 747 from Braniff, when that carrier failed in May, 1982. N601BN was the highest time 747 in existence (its the one that flew back and forth between DFW and HNL pretty much daily for twelve years, and with which Braniff inaugurated DFW-LGW service.
 
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millionsofmiles
Posts: 263
Joined: Mon Mar 06, 2017 11:18 am

Re: Tower Air

Sat Aug 03, 2019 2:58 pm

MR27122 wrote:
millionsofmiles wrote:
LAXffDUB wrote:

Their "terminal" was not part of the regular complex (T1-T8). It was on the edge of the airport property near the cargo hangers of other carriers. My experiences passing through it in the early 90s could only be described as ranging from organized chaos to outright anarchy. At the time I couldn't help but think of the impression that maelstrom left on arriving passengers as they saw signs welcoming them to NY!


Unfortunately, you lack the historical depth to know that the early 1970s (1970-1972) “Pan Am Terminal 2” was NOT in the central terminal area but was attached to Pan Am’s hangar complex.

The circa 1970-1972 “Pan Am Terminal 2” was, in fact , the building which became the Tower Air Terminal.

A little more attention to detail when you are reading might be helpful. I specifically stated that the early 1970s “Pan Am Terminal 2” was not in the central terminal area, but you apparently missed that in your zeal to try to correct something that was not wrong.


Nothing like a good 'ole Tower Air JFK terminal discussion that get's personal!! Unfortunately, "historical depth" isn't the topic....& the only date reference is "early 90". In your "zeal" to respond (correct/attack?)----you failed to note that the first 2 sentences are absolute fact & the remainder of the post is rooted in personal recollection/sentiments/perception.

Per Wiki
Tower Air's main base of scheduled operations was John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.[5] In the mid-1980s, the airline operated from the British Airways terminal at JFK (now Terminal 7).[6] In the early 1990s, it operated from the former Eastern terminal. In 1993, Tower Air renovated and expanded Building 213, a former Pan Am hangar, to serve as its dedicated JFK terminal, adding three finger gates in 1995.


If your objective is absolute historical precision....I don't know when the "early 90's" (1990-?) transition to the "mid 90's"(1995-?). Unfortunately, until you source it otherwise---No reference is made to Pan Am pre 1993, only BA & EA. My personal recall was that the 1993 renovated/expanded Tower Air JFK Terminal was so inconspicuous it lacked Airline Signage to the degree that only a green w/ white letter road-side sign existed w/ "Tower Air" & an arrow for the turn-off to the 1993 "new" Terminal b/c the "building" was so far from the perimeter of primary JFK Terminals (i.e. The '93 Tower Terminal was before the first airline specific terminal signage @ JFK...which I believe was for the AA Terminal).


Another post lacking in historical depth.

Not surprising from someone who relies on Wikipedia for “documentation.”
 
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LIJet
Posts: 15
Joined: Thu Jun 16, 2016 2:16 pm

Re: Tower Air

Sat Aug 03, 2019 5:48 pm

I worked at JFK in the hey day of Tower Air in the 90's. A bunch of guys I worked with worked at Tower either full time or on an as needed basis. It was quite the operation they had operating out of the old Pan Am hangar 17. There were a bunch of talented people that landed there after Pan Am shut down. I've seen lots of things and heard even more stories. The riots at the terminal were definitely true. LOL. I was there the morning they ran off the side of the runway during takeoff roll, hit a little shack with the #3 engine, and broke the nose gear in a snow storm. That's the closest they came to a major accident I think. I have some great pics stored away of that incident that I took while it was still on the runway. I also flew them JFK-ATH-JFK back in 1996, Uneventful flight, except for the US military escort we received on the way home due to our route taking us through airspace occupied by the Yugoslav Wars. If I recall, Italian ATC was on strike at the time?

At one time, they were getting more aircraft and it looked as if they might start to grow to become a major player. Alas, that didn't happen. In the end there was a desperate effort to keep planes flying. You would see a couple of Tower 747's parked outside Hangar 17 with all sorts of parts removed. Big parts. Thrust reverser halves. Nose cowls. Entire engine fan cases. The running joke was that TOWER was an acronym for Take Off Without Essential Repairs. The maintenance reputation had gotten that bad. JetBlue was born at JFK and the last of their talented people abandoned ship. It was obvious that their days were numbered.
 
OB1504
Posts: 3641
Joined: Tue Jul 27, 2004 5:10 am

Re: Tower Air

Sat Aug 03, 2019 8:16 pm

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
DDR wrote:
I remember hearing stories about the police having to be called because of near rioting in the Tower Air "terminal" because of delayed and canceled flights. Does anyone know if this true, or just urban legend? Also, does anyone have pics of the JFK hanger/terminal that Tower used?


I heard similar stories from a F/A that worked for them. Maybe embellished, but mostly true.


I was told the same thing about their ticket counter at MIA by an aviation department official.

Considering that I frequently had to diffuse near riots and sheriff’s deputies were never too far away when I worked at Spirit, I believe it.
 
MR27122
Posts: 93
Joined: Sat May 06, 2017 3:00 am

Re: Tower Air

Sat Aug 03, 2019 8:16 pm

millionsofmiles wrote:
MR27122 wrote:
millionsofmiles wrote:

Unfortunately, you lack the historical depth to know that the early 1970s (1970-1972) “Pan Am Terminal 2” was NOT in the central terminal area but was attached to Pan Am’s hangar complex.

The circa 1970-1972 “Pan Am Terminal 2” was, in fact , the building which became the Tower Air Terminal.

A little more attention to detail when you are reading might be helpful. I specifically stated that the early 1970s “Pan Am Terminal 2” was not in the central terminal area, but you apparently missed that in your zeal to try to correct something that was not wrong.


Nothing like a good 'ole Tower Air JFK terminal discussion that get's personal!! Unfortunately, "historical depth" isn't the topic....& the only date reference is "early 90". In your "zeal" to respond (correct/attack?)----you failed to note that the first 2 sentences are absolute fact & the remainder of the post is rooted in personal recollection/sentiments/perception.

Per Wiki
Tower Air's main base of scheduled operations was John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.[5] In the mid-1980s, the airline operated from the British Airways terminal at JFK (now Terminal 7).[6] In the early 1990s, it operated from the former Eastern terminal. In 1993, Tower Air renovated and expanded Building 213, a former Pan Am hangar, to serve as its dedicated JFK terminal, adding three finger gates in 1995.


If your objective is absolute historical precision....I don't know when the "early 90's" (1990-?) transition to the "mid 90's"(1995-?). Unfortunately, until you source it otherwise---No reference is made to Pan Am pre 1993, only BA & EA. My personal recall was that the 1993 renovated/expanded Tower Air JFK Terminal was so inconspicuous it lacked Airline Signage to the degree that only a green w/ white letter road-side sign existed w/ "Tower Air" & an arrow for the turn-off to the 1993 "new" Terminal b/c the "building" was so far from the perimeter of primary JFK Terminals (i.e. The '93 Tower Terminal was before the first airline specific terminal signage @ JFK...which I believe was for the AA Terminal).


Another post lacking in historical depth.

Not surprising from someone who relies on Wikipedia for “documentation.”


You’re most unfortunate. Re-read the thread TOPIC AUTHOR’s original inquiry, wherein “experiences” & “stories” are sought…it might bring you enlightenment.

Wikipedia was once jank….yet it’s current manifestation is fantasically greater in terms of content accuracy.

This is your cue to provide another fluff/dopey response that has nothing to do w/ the what the TOPIC AUTHOR is asking…ORprovide unquestionable HISTORICAL references in regards to your terminal issues…err, ahh... your TOWER Air JFK Terminal claims.

Tower Air was a fascinating scheduled-airline that possessed more longevity than the majority of post-dereg "tries". A single type operator (747) targeting major legacy business/leisure routes out JFK....to those actually responding to the TOPIC AUTHOR, did Tower ever operate scheduled flights between 2 points that didn't "touch" JFK?.
 
TARTRESED
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Sep 26, 2018 12:21 am

Re: Tower Air

Sat Aug 03, 2019 8:19 pm

LVISA wrote:
They also had DC-8's, (-62's if memory serves). I flew with them a couple of times from NYC to Miami in the late 70's and they were great! Cheaper than Eastern and every passenger was offered a bubbly drink, (mimosa or champagne I believe), before departure. My son and daughter flew with them years later in the 747's and service at the airport and on board had badly deteriorated by then. Too bad, loved seeing the planes in JFK and MIA.

That had to have been Braniff or Delta. I just checked a few of my late 70s OAGs and those were the only 2. I would bet on Braniff as they flew the -62, and had more DC-8s than Delta between those cities.
 
Ziyulu
Posts: 597
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2016 10:35 am

Re: Tower Air

Sat Aug 03, 2019 8:42 pm

I can't believe how so many are bashing Tower for poor service. Do AA, UA, and DL offer good service today?

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