The Death and Life of Helicopter Commuting


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Published: 2 years ago
Fifty years ago, a helicopter company called New York Airways whisked passengers from the rooftop of the iconic Pan Am Building in midtown Manhattan to any city airport in just 10 minutes. A fatal accident in 1977 brought that era to an end.

40 years later, E-VTOL technology could open a new chapter in short-distance airborne commuting.

Video by Raymond Schillinger

Camera: Brian Schildhorn
Animation / Graphics: Sylvia Yang and Chiachi Lee
Sound Design: Andrew Hylnsky

#transportation #history #NYC

News Footage provided by NBCUniversal Archives. All Rights Reserved.

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In the VERY early 1970s, my mom and I landed by jet in JFK, and had either missed our connecting flight to our final destination due to delay, or else it was unexpectedly canceled — I can’t remember which, I was very very young and barely verbal — so my grandmom, who’d flown the first leg of that flight with us for fun, and who was a pretty seasoned traveler and handy in these situations, quickly booked my mom and I a different flight home… but from out of LaGuardia, across the city, and leaving in under an hour! So how did we get from JFK to LaGuardia? (Or maybe it was vice-versa, I again don’t remember super clearly.) BY GIANT HELICOPTER!! And this video talks a lot about how people under the flight path of those helicopters found them noisy, but you know what the video neglects to mention? HOW CRAZY NOISY IT WAS TO RIDE INSIDE OF ONE OF THOSE THINGS!! Again, I was really young at the time, so I don’t remember everything today (nor did I know then what a treat I was getting, riding in a helicopter), but here’s what burned itself deeply into my memory: 1) the seats were a dark blue sort of cloth, it was rough and had burls but was kinda nice, 2) it was surprisingly crowded, but as comfy as one of the smaller DC aircraft, and 3) once the rotors roared into action, it was so suddenly and OVERWHELMINGLY noisy, I cried literally the whole length of the ride: the thing shook and tilted like a seesaw (to top things off, I think we were in the tail-end of a hurricane, no kidding), and I could barely hear myself shriek over the rotors, my little self could hardly stand it… but I think it was fortunately less than a 15-minute ride, so the other poor passengers didn’t have to suffer my wailing for too long. But yeah, those things were NOISY. Is all.

3 days ago

Any idea how many lives could've been saved on 911 with 5 CH-47s and a pair of bolt cutters?

1 month ago

this was way before my time but man I wish commuter helicopters and heliports still existed! way more fun and exciting than being stuck in traffic in your car or on a crowded bus. I live in Chicago and while L trains are cool in their own ways helicopter rides would be way more awesome!!!

2 months ago

And then a helicopter crashed into the equitable building.

2 months ago

A well tempered mini documentary. There are alot of gems within. Chopper crashes..... blimps... air balloon disaster!. There's alot about the future of the drone in this video. And flying cars therefore driverless cars.. The lawyers speak volumes. Try Space travel. Interesting article.

2 months ago

Nothing happened, this is all bs. Where's the footage of the helicopter crashing into the building? Just actors portrayed as civilians.

2 months ago

small airships with helium powered lift is much quieter than a rotor blade aircraft will ever be and safer

2 months ago

nice pictures

2 months ago

Helicopter pilot as just been killed today in a accident in new York it crashed landed on a high-rise apartment block!it's a good idea to have quiter machines if it was to be come reality!I think we look towards the future to much.we need to considerate on today. making flight even more safer!look at air travel today airplanes are crashing more because pilots can't over ride the new technology of computers and datea software.we need pilots to be able to fly manually as well.to over ride the new technology.i think the future of flight is dead in the water before it's ever gets off the ground.

2 months ago

YouTube’s algorithm doing a great job 👍😂
Timing 100

2 months ago

Antóin Fox ik pilot died

2 months ago

To imagine that another crash happened just yesterday in New York...

2 months ago

I feel bad for that lady who got struck, it’s just her luck it landed right where she was walking

2 months ago

The "elites" will NOT be able to escape the consequences of their genocidal immigration scheme. Their electric "drones" will be shot out of the sky, and any survivors will be strung up and skinned alive to the cheers of the masses below. #SawNothingOfficer

2 months ago

Another heli crashed in New York today

2 months ago

Bad news today

2 months ago

Really, is this weird today ?

2 months ago

I was 10 years old I remember this

2 months ago

Another case where we traded freedom for public safety. What do we have now? Very low to NO helicopter commute, and a hell lot more than 5 deaths in car accidents because now everybody needs a car.

2 months ago

New Yorkers hate the chopping sound of the helicopters overhead. This should be illegal. It ruins public spaces, and parks, with horrific noise.

3 months ago

5 from 500k passengers? Maybe people died eaten by shark, wins a greater number, *if you compare apple to pizza.

3 months ago

5:56 "MANY", not "ANY."

3 months ago

ok buddy retard, the world doesnt revolve around new york

3 months ago

For a moment I thought it was gta v 😂

3 months ago

One incident and heli rides are banned.
So many mass shootings and guns aren't.
US of A for you, ladies & gentleman 🤷‍♂️

3 months ago

Yeah, boeing is Not Reliable. Even on past

3 months ago

What a Co incidence this Got Recommended on 16 May 2019

3 months ago

Donald Trump started something and it FAILED??? 🙄 Tell me something new.

3 months ago

Statistically, it's safer than #Boeing 737 Max Jets.

3 months ago

Tragic as that accident was, many more people die every day in car accidents, yet we haven't ended automobiles. There are bus accidents too, we still have those. Nothing in life is 100% safe, and while what happened is horrible, it also seems foolish to completely end a promising use of transportation technology because of it. Maybe it's the optics of it or something. I sure would love to have the option though. 42 years later...think of how many more places would have helicopter transport which is actually affordable, and how extensive it would be in the big, big cities. A lost opportunity after a decade of presumably safe operation, all because of one accident. Talk about giving up! Seems like this would have been the opportunity to change some designs and make it safer.

3 months ago

Let's open that shit up!

3 months ago