Featured image: John Atherton/CC BY-SA 2.0

7/09/1953: New York Airways Commences Operations

DALLAS – Today, in 1953, helicopter operator New York Airways (NY) commenced operations. Based at La Guardia Airport (LGA), operations began with a seven-seat Sikorsky S-55 helicopter.

The carrier had been awarded a certificate by the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) in December of 1951. This allowed flights to commence between the three main New York airports of LGA, Newark (EWR), and John F. Kennedy (JFK).

In its first year, NY had carried 8,758 passengers. Ten years later, it had flown over 250,000 passengers.

NY Sikorsky S-61 (N617PA) pictured at JFK. Photo: Ken Fielding/CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A Cultural Icon

Its route map eventually expanded beyond the inter-airport flights to New Brunswick, Princeton, and Trenton in New Jersey. Flights to the West 30th Street Heliport in Manhattan commenced on December 5, 1956. In 1960 NY moved these services to the East River Pier 6 heliport.

The launch of flights from the iconic Pan Am building, with its rooftop heliport, in December 1965 made New York Airways a cultural icon. At its peak, NY operated up to 23 flights per day between the Park Avenue offices and PA’s JFK terminal.

Passengers could check in at the Pan Am building just 40 minutes before their flight departure time from JFK. Services were also offered from the downtown heliport to TWA’s JFK terminal up to five times per day.

The heliport atop Pan Am’s iconic Manhattan offices. Photo: Gordon Bevan, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Breaking Boundaries

In 1957, the airline made history when it employed the first African American pilot, Perry H. Young, who took to the skies on February 5.

Sadly, financial difficulties began to mount for NY. A series of tragic accidents threw the company’s safety into question, and on April 18, 1979, the airline ceased all operations.

The featured image: shows an NY Boeing-Vertol 107-II (N6682D) at JFK.

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