The Heritage of New York Airways’ Helicopter Functions


If a human being about to board an airplane in Omaha have been asked the place he was flying to and he responded, “Omaha,” he may possibly obtain a number of perplexed looks and even an audible, “But aren’t you there now?” Nonetheless, when you dwell in metropolises that help a number of airports, these kinds of as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, London, Paris, and Tokyo, it is probable to fly from a person to the other.

Whilst distances among them may well not be that abnormal, area vacation, particularly for the duration of hurry hrs, can demand surplus time, and there is almost nothing like landing at an airport and proceeding to the subsequent gate for a connecting flight and even having your checked baggage interlined to it.

New York qualifies as having one particular of these inter-airport networks and its namesake New York Airways produced a valiant, two-ten years try to supply scheduled, rotary-wing service in just it.

As the third to do so, it followed Los Angles Airways and Helicopter Air Solutions of Chicago and was awarded an working certification by the Civil Aeronautics Board (Cab) in December of 1951 to fly concerning inside the ttri-airport Idlewild, La Guardia, and Newark catchment space.

Reflecting early-aviation enhancement, in which open-cockpit biplanes carried mail in excess of designated routes and accommodated a number of travellers to augment income when space allowed, it transitioned to the passenger kind of payload on July 8, 1952 with seven-seat Sikorsky S-55s, finally increasing past its inter-airport network to New Brunswick, Princeton, and, Trenton in New Jersey. Manhattan-penetrating provider to the Hudson River hugging West 30th Road Heliport began four several years afterwards, on December 5.

Sound and vibration ended up counteracted with convenience, speed, vacation times that have been measured in minutes, and unparalleled sights of the Statue of Liberty and the New York skyline. Approaches to the encircled “H” touchdown issue on the water jutting pier positioned the aircraft’s size into perspective when vit was almost swallowed by Manhattan’s monoliths throughout its alight.

Before that calendar year, on April 21, New York Airways inaugurated the greater-ability, additional highly developed, tandem twin-rotor Vertol 44B into service.

“It was the initial transportation helicopter to have its cabin organized like that of a traditional airliner, accommodating 15 passengers, predominantly two-abreast on the starboard aspect of the cabin with the aisle and baggage place on the still left,” in accordance to R. E. G. Davies in “Airways of the United States due to the fact 1914 “(Smithsonian Institution Push, 1998, p. 475).

Yet, passenger acceptance and expansion speedily necessitated even larger sized, far more highly developed gear, prompting New York Airways’ original, $4,350,000 get for 10 Vertol V-107-IIs on January 15, 1960. It was later halved to five.

The type which eventually turned its flagship and digital image of it, not only traces it origins to a layout, but to the pretty, manufacturer that developed it. Vertol, a Philadelphia-based, rotary-wing firm, was concurrently building two tandem-rotor helicopters-particularly, the Chinook for the US Military and the CH-46A Sea Knight for the US Navy and Marines.

The latter, the final result of a layout opposition for a Maritime Corps medium assault transport, to start with flew in August of 1962 and was very first delivered two yrs later, carrying troops and cargo between South Chine Sea positioned ships and Vietnam. Of its a few prototypes, one was modified to civil V-107-II conventional and it initial flew on Oct 25, 1960, at a time when Boeing had acquired the firm, resulting in the Boeing-Vertol name.

Driven by a 1,250-shp Basic Electric T58-8 turboshaft engine, it showcased a 50-foot rotor diameter. With an 84-foot all round size, it experienced an 18,400-pound gross bodyweight.

First traveling in entire manufacturing guise the pursuing year, on May perhaps 19, it was FAA sort-certified in January of 1962 and entered scheduled New York Airway service on July 1. The remaining 10 created had been sold to Kawasaki of Japan to serve as license-created pattern plane, but that system under no circumstances proceeded into generation.

Illustrations or photos of the V-107-II having off from the Pan Am rooftop heliport symbolized skyscraper-stretching Manhattan island and shaped an integral section of the city’s culture. They also represented an aspect of city mobility: subways under its streets and helicopters higher than its properties depicted prosperous technological triumphs in excess of targeted visitors-saturated streets and drastically lowered vacation situations.

“20-5 passengers rode in this twin-turbine style and design at a cruising speed of 140 mph,” in accordance to Len Morgan in “Airliners of the Planet” (Arco Publishing Company, 1966, p. 90). “New York Airways took you from Kennedy Worldwide to the foot of Wall Street in 16 minutes or to the major of the Pan Am Setting up in seven. Either excursion required a hectic hour and a quarter by vehicle all through rush hrs.”

New York Airways was able to work at 50 %-hour intervals and its annual passenger totals reflected the attractiveness of its offerings-8,758 in its initial calendar year of procedure and far more than 250,000 in its tenth.

Even though rotary-wing functions made available several advantages, including numerous every day frequencies lower-capability, straightforward-to-fill cabins rapid aerial hops unparalleled views and the means to alight on any postage-stamp sized patch, no matter whether paved or not, they also experienced their negatives. They experienced higher working expenses, created significant sounds, featured engine and mechanical complexity, operated within just very populated city locations the place safety was of paramount concern, needed subsidies for profitability, and, at minimum initially, have been dependent upon weather and visual meteorological conditions.

Progressively lessened subsidies necessitated provider discontinuations, together with those to the West 30th Avenue Heliport and Bridgeport, Connecticut. On April 11, 1965, they have been altogether eliminated, affecting not only New York Airways, but the other comparable rotary-wing problems in Chicago and Los Angeles.

A money lifeline was cast by Pan American Entire world Airways, which acquired two supplemental V-107-IIs for $850,000 every and then leased them to New York Airways for procedure to the 1964 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows.

Sikorsky, as a result of its Untied Aircraft Corporation father or mother, did the exact same with a few S-61s. Run by the identical Standard Electric T58-8 motor, but showcasing a various configuration, a shorter fuselage, and a much larger, 62-foot rotor diameter, it was the V-107-II’s competitor, but it was normally related with a 25-passenger potential and an 18,700-pound gross excess weight. It was inaugurated into service on December 21, 1965.

Bypassing all floor traffic and lessening journey time to a mere 7 minutes, Boeing-Vertol V-107-II and Sikorsky S-61 services amongst the Pan Am rooftop heliport and JFK enabled passengers to test-in for their fastened-wing flights in the Pan Am Making 45 minutes prior to they ended up scheduled to depart. Seventeen each day roundtrips supplied final convenience. Fares were $7.00 a person-way and $10.00 roundtrip.

Simply because the company fulfilled the CAB’s “public usefulness and necessity” clause, equally Pan Am and TWA ended up capable to make stockholding investments in New York Airways, the former to the tune of 24.4 percent and the latter at 15.6 %.

The Sikorsky S-61s sported TWA’s emblem on their aft fuselage sides.

Apart from the airline’s money fatalities, there had been also human types, creating dim clouds of question on rotary-wing technologies for scheduled commercial operations.

On Might 18, 1977, for instance, a New York Airways S-61L keeled above for the duration of boarding on prime of the Pan Am heliport, getting the lives of 5 with it when it did, which includes that of a man or woman walking on Madison Avenue beneath in which the unleashed rotor blade hit him.

Two a long time later, in April of 1979, 3 ended up killed when a rotor blade snapped off of an additional S-61 at Newark Intercontinental Airport.

Metal exhaustion and failure had caused the right landing equipment to collapse in the initial incident and the tail rotor to crack off in the next.

Forced to cease functions, New York Airways filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy safety and, though numerous methods have been devised to resurrect it, none proved fruitful.

New York Airways’ 18-yr, 4-form, scheduled mail and passenger, inter-airport and neighboring-condition rotary-wing operations have been easy and popular and outlined a new marketplace and goal for the design. But all those then in existence were being loud, intricate, gasoline-thirsty, and in the long run flawed, and not always of adequate progression for risk-free, worthwhile, large-frequency, daily functions, leaving later on carriers, these types of as New York Helicopter, to fill the hole in the New York airport place and numerous other folks all through the globe. Though technology had intermittently enhanced and was one particular measure of the type’s accomplishment, its working charges and profitability constituted its many others.

“After twelve decades of passenger functions, consequently, the Helicopter carriers (together with New York Airways, Chicago Helicopter Airways, Los Angeles Airways, and San Francisco and Oakland Airlines) had been offered a good probability to verify the effectiveness of rotor-driven plane, but had unsuccessful to make their case,” Davies concludes (op. cit. p. 479).

Report Sources:

Davies, R.E.G. “Airways of the United States Due to the fact 1914.” Washington: Smithsonian Establishment Press, 1998.

Morgan, Len. “Airliners of the Earth.” New York: Arco Publishing Business, Inc., 1966.

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