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Watch: New York Airways Was The Golden Age Of Helicopter Commuting

The Company That Pioneered Helicopter Commuting In New York Used A Variety of Rotorcraft On Their Routes

Boeing-Vertol 107 helicopter. Image courtesy Boeing

When the New York Airways promotional film “The Skyline Route” was produced in 1962, the company had already operated above New York and the surrounding area for 13 years. Founded in 1949, New York Airways began carrying paying passengers aboard helicopters for the first time in 1953 using Sikorsky S-55 (think H-19 Chickasaw) helicopters.

Soon the company added Sikorsky S-58 (H-34 Choctaw) helicopters to their inventory. By 1958 the tandem-rotor Vertol (Boeing) 44 (H-21 Shawnee) helicopters were flying the skies over the Big Apple with restrictions due to its single engine. But when the twin turbine-powered Vertol 107 (CH-46 Sea Knight) went into service in 1962 the company hit their stride. The film was uploaded to YouTube by PeriscopeFilm

They operated the 107s for several years and later added the Sikorsky S-61 (H-3 Sea King). In the film New York Airways’ routes and destinations are shown with lots of aerial footage of the company’s 107s flying over 1962 New York City and the surrounding area. One tidbit of interest is that the iconic Pan Am Building had not yet been completed and can be seen in its unfinished state in the film. New York Airways 107s had a co-starring role in the 1968 Universal /Malpaso Company movie Coogan’s Bluff.

Avgeek Trivia:

Another bit of trivia for all the avgeeks:  Former New York Airways 107 (N6674D now operated by Columbia Helicopters) has logged more than 70,000 hours of flight time since manufactured in 1962, making it the helicopter with the most flight time in the world. Ironically years later an S-61 accident that occurred on the roof of the Pan Am Building precipitated both the cessation of commercial flights from the rooftop heliport and eventually the company’s demise after 30 years of operations. Talk about bad luck!

Boeing-Vertol 107 helicopter flying above Lady Liberty. Image courtesy Boeing

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Written by Bill Walton

Bill Walton

Bill Walton is a life-long aviation enthusiast and expert in aircraft recognition. As a teenager Bill helped his engineer father build an award-winning T-18 homebuilt airplane in their Wisconsin basement. Bill is a freelance writer, an avid sailor, engineer, announcer, husband, father, uncle, mentor, coach, and Navy veteran. Bill lives north of Houston TX with his wife and son under the approach path to KDWH runway 17R, which means they get to look up at a lot of airplanes. A very good thing.

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