Posts Tagged ‘Met Life Building’

The last helicopter on the Pan Am Building

May 20, 2009

Since 1981 it’s been owned by Met Life (though the Met Life sign didn’t go up until 1991)—a 60-story skyscraper behind Grand Central Station. But in 1963 it opened as the Pan Am Building, becoming sort of a symbol of post–World War II, jet-age New York City. 

Panambuilding3 Too bad the Pan Am Building lacked the beauty and grace of the Empire State and Chrysler Buildings and was never especially beloved by New Yorkers. 

But it did have one distinct amenity: a helipad on the roof. A company called New York Airways regularly offered seven-minute copter service to JFK and LaGuardia Airports.

The copter shuttle operated in the 1960s and then started up again in 1977—until one helicopter’s broken landing gear caused another copter to tip over and kill four passengers waiting to board. A fifth person, a pedestrian, died when the rotor blade fell off the roof and tumbled all the way down to 43rd Street.