Idelwild Airport, NY Helicopter Explodes, Oct 1963


A passenger helicopter apparently ripped by an explosion shortly after it took off, crashed in flames at Idlewild Airport Monday, killing six persons.
It was one of four helicopters built for New York Airways by the Vetrol Division of the Boeing Co. at its Springfield plant.
New York Airways shuttles passengers between Manhattan and metropolitan airports.
It was the first fatal crash in 10 years for New York Airways.
Vertol has supplied the company with its Boeing Vertol 107 all-turbine helicopter since June 1962.
The line grounded its other three Vertol helicopters after the crash, pending determination of cause.
The 10-ton, $750,000 helicopter had just lifted off for a seven minute flight from Idlewild to the East River heliport at the foot of Wall Street when it fell.
A witness, RICHARD SPIVAK, 25, an employe of Seaboard World Airways at Idlewild, said he "looked up and saw the plane explode."
One of the two engines, which rotate twin rotors, dislodged and fell.
The fuselage spiraled down slowly, burning on impact near the center of the 4,900 acre airport.
One rotor blade fell through the roof of an American Airlines hangar a half-mile away. Another struck a parked car near the hangar.
Federal officials have not confirmed that an explosion occurred.
A company spokesman in Springfield said "five or six" plant officials went to New York Monday afternoon.
They met with officials of New York Airways and the Civil Aeronautics Board, which will conduct the investigation, at 3:30 p.m. at Idlewild.
Three passengers and three crew members, including a stewardess, were the only ones aboard the 25-passenger helicopter.
The pilot was identified as Capt. FRANK LaTURCO, 42, of Thornwood, N. Y.
Other crew members were co-pilot JOSEPH GIAMBATISTA, 37, of Manhattan and stewardess MARIE FOURQUET, of Northport, N. Y.
The passengers were tentatively identified from cards and baggage checks as MARIE WILD, of Parma, Ohio; GEORGE A. LONGENBERG, of North Brook, Ill.; and R. J. STANKAVISH of Manhattan.
All were trapped inside the fuselage.
The company spokesman in Springfield said the four helicopters owned by New York Airways have flown 1,376 to 1,924 flying hours.
He said a fifth helicopter ordered by the New York company has been flight tested and is awaiting delivery.
The spokesman said the 107 helicopter is similar to ones which are being built for the U. S. Marine Corps, the Royal Canadian Air Force and Army and the Royal Swedish Air Force and Navy.
On Oct. 1, U. S. Sen. JOSEPH S. CLARK (D-Pa.) announced the Navy had awarded a $31 million dollar contract to Vertol for production of 107 type helicopters for the Marines.
The spokesman said security regulations prohibit the company from revealing how many have been built or are in production.
He said the copters are "in mass production."
He said the military version differs only slightly from the type used by New York Airways.
He said the 107 military helicopter has a rear ramp which opens to load or discharge troops. The rear section of the airline helicopter is used for baggage.
The spokesman said 307,212 paying passengers have flown on the four helicopters since the first one was delivered in June 1962.
He said the four have flown a total of 583,660 miles.
Monday's crash was the second fatal crash in the history of scheduled helicopter flights in this country.
On July 27, 1960, a Chicago crash claimed the lives of 11 passengers and two crewmen.

Delaware County Daily Times Chester Pennsylvania 1963-10-15