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Thread: The Pan Am Building Helicopter Accident

  1. #1

    Default The Pan Am Building Helicopter Accident

    This month marks the 30th anniversary of the accident at the heliport then atop the Pan Am Building that occurred when a New York Airways Sikorsky helicopter was boarding passengers for a scheduled flight to John F. Kennedy International Airport. In its report about the accident, the National Transportation Safety Board described the event and its probable cause:
    About 1735 e.d.t., on May 16, 1977, the right landing gear of a New York Airways, Inc., Sikorsky Model S-61L helicopter, N619PA, failed while the aircraft was parked, with rotors turning, on the rooftop heliport of the Pan Am Building in New York, New York. The aircraft rolled over on its right side and was substantially damaged. Four passengers had boarded the aircraft and other passengers were in the process of boarding. The passengers and the three crewmembers onboard received either minor or no injuries; however, four passengers who were still outside the aircraft and were waiting to board were killed and one was seriously injured. One pedestrian on the corner of Madison Avenue and 43rd Street was killed and another was seriously injured when they were struck by a separated portion of one of the main rotor blades of the aircraft.
    The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the accident was the fatigue failure of the upper right forward fitting of the right main landing gear tube assembly. Fatigue originated from a small surface pit of undetermined source. All fatalities were caused by the operating rotor blades as a result of the collapse of the landing gear.
    The heliport was permanently closed after the accident. Below are a pdf copy of the Times May 17, 1977 report on the accident and links to the NTSB report and a photo of the accident aircraft at airliners.net.

    NTSB REPORT
    N619PA Photo (at airliners.net)
    Attached Files Attached Files
    Last edited by ManhattanKnight; May 24th, 2007 at 08:49 PM.

  2. #2

    Default

    Read an article in the Times here about how Richard Serra found the rigging crew he uses [Budco Enterprises] to install his massive steel pieces.

    “I trust these guys implicitly,” he said of Mr. Vilardi and the small corps of men who show up time and again to help him complete his works. He couldn’t resist another story, about how he came to choose them, by way of their elders, Mr. Vilardi’s father, Ross, and the father of Joe Vilardi’s cousin, Ray LaChapelle, who were his first riggers.

    In 1977, when Mr. Serra’s pieces had begun to grow so large he needed expert moving help, he had no idea where to turn. But one day, shortly after a highly publicized accident in which a helicopter toppled on the helipad atop the Pan Am Building, sending rotors and other debris flying, he saw in the newspaper that a rigging company had agreed to take on the extremely risky job of lowering the jagged pieces of wreckage down 58 floors.

    “That’s a hell of a tricky job,” Mr. Serra said, seeming impressed even all these years later. “I mean, there’s no handbook in terms of rigging on how you do that one.

    “So I just got in my car and I went to see them. I said to myself, ‘Now these are the guys I want to work with.’

    audio slideshow

  3. #3

    Default

    ^Nice story. Actually, I understand that the City of NY refused to allow that "extremely risky job" (lowering the damaged copter from the roof to the street). Instead, it was disassembled and taken down via the building's service elevator. After being rebuilt, it was reported still to be in service as recently as last year.

  4. #4

  5. #5

    Default

    This was probably the most thrilling public transportation in history. It flew at kissing distance round the Chrysler Building's spire. Sure was expensive, though.

  6. #6

    Default

    That's a wonderful photo. Thanks for posting it.

    A scheme from the 30's:

    http://www.esbnyc.com/tourism/touris...s_july2000.cfm

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Hindenburgiii.jpg

    ----

    Pan Am when hopes where high:

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=bKqQgNZylLw

    Super fab 70's PanAm advertising jingle:
    http://youtube.com/watch?v=QnkjyFCXf...elated&search=

  7. #7
    Forum Veteran MidtownGuy's Avatar
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    Default

    ^ that cheesy, orgasm-inducing commercial makes it seem like they're flying you straight to Paradise.

  8. #8

    Default

    ^ And the stewardesses prolonged the illusion. In those days they were picked for their looks.

  9. #9

    Default

    I havent seen a hot stewardess in years!

  10. #10

    Default

    ^ Pressure from feminists eliminated first the requirement to look good, then the requirement to be female. The hot ones are now male.

  11. #11

    Default Pan Am Helicoper accident

    I was on the phone looking out the window that day, it was a beautiful sunny day. The helicopters landed everyday on schedule, and I would always watch them. This chopper on arrival landed just perfectly. Then in I guess 20-30 mins. while I was expecting a lift off, I see a huge blast of black smoke rising, and my stomach just kind of dropped, like the drop in a elevator. As I knew of course that it crashed on it's attempted take off. Then there were a number of helicopters that began to merge over the airspace above. I was not very long before you could see they were attending to the flames. But I could see part of what seemed to be the tail section of the helicopter pushed up near the railing of the rooftop, like maybe on it's side.That was what it looked like. Knowing the layout of that landing area up there and the small waiting structure, with the glass front, I knew anyone on the roof standing would never have a chance to avoid the flying debris of the rotors. So it will always be a moment I will remember, those people that I never met, and it was their last moments. It was a shame that was the final flight to ever land on top of the then Pan Am building. I missed the magic that seem to take place every time one of those Helicopters landed.

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