Friday, July 28, 2017

L.A. Airways, October 1965

I have two neat photos of one of the Los Angeles Airways helicopters that flew guests from Los Angeles International Airport to Disneyland, and back. This is a Sikorsky S-61L twin-turbine, medium lift transport/airliner model - as you can see, it's pretty sizable. Imagine how amazing it would have been to land at LAX, and fly a mere 20 minutes to the park... and imagine the view that you would have had!

Here's a second photo showing the Sikorsky coming in low over the Disneyland Hotel's Garden Rooms. I can't help wondering about the noise the aircraft made as it went to and fro all day.

Sadly, there were two disastrous crashes that ended helicopter service to Disneyland. This very helicopter crashed on August 14, 1968, in Compton as it made its way from the airport to the park. All 21 people aboard perished. L.A. Airways survived for a while, and even briefly resumed service to Disneyland, but it finally flew its last helicopter in 1972.


Nanook said...


Of all the things I did involving Disneyland, flying on those helicopters was not among them - although I did fly by helicopter from the Pan Am building to JFK. It always did look like fun, (I guess as long as it stayed airborne, however).

Thanks, Major.

Scott Lane said...

The younger me desperately wanted to fly to Disneyland in one of these things and was disappointed to hear they were no longer an option on our first visit in '74. The older me would never get on one of the damn things even if they were.

Unknown said...

As a naval aviation geek I automatically think, " Hey! Its an SH-3. Why is it painted so funny?"

K. Martinez said...

And in the first pic, the monorail track that heads back to Disneyland can be seen. This whole thing of taking a helicopter to Disneyland service always fascinated me, but knowing about helicopters, no way would I get in one.

Speaking of the people who perished in the helicopter crash that were headed to Disneyland, every once in a while up here, news comes up of a car crash on the 101 near Salinas in which an entire family with young children either going to or coming back from a trip to Disneyland perish. It's always heartbreaking to hear.

Anyway, nice and very unusual documentation of L.A. Airways helicopter service to Disneyland. You are right. It must've been noisy. Thanks, Major.

Anonymous said...

I vaguely remember seeing one of these helicopters on one of my Disneyland visit. Never rode one.

A good friend is a ex-military helo pilot, his description: "50,000 separate parts and not a single one wants to fly."

If you've seen the movie "The Right Stuff", you've heard his voice, as he was the helo pilot recovering the astronauts from the ocean. He was on duty the day the filming took place and was assigned to the work. The filmakers liked his voice enough not to dub over it. He earned $50 bucks for his role.

Ken, those are sad stories, to be sure. 101 in that region is a mess, I know it well. I'm always in the slow lane there just waiting it out.


Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, oh man, flying in a helicopter over NYC (from the Pan Am building!) must have been amazing.

Scott Lane, yeah, as much as I’d love to see those views, the crashing makes one think twice!

Patrick Devlin, now I wish they had just used the military paint scheme for Los Angeles Airways. Disneyland is being invaded!

K. Martinez, it’s true, the Monorail track is about the only thing from the park (as opposed to the Hotel) that we can see. When I hear about those terrible car crashes, I always wonder if it’s a family that has spent the whole day in the park, and they’re trying to make it home so that they don’t have to spend more money on a hotel room. It is very tragic.

JG, wow, your friend earned $50! So much for Hollywood, ha ha. Still, very cool that his voice can be heard in that excellent movie. I have only been in a helicopter once, and it was pretty thrilling - it was during a trip to Alaska and we flew up to the Mendenhall Glacier. Amazing views.

Anonymous said...

I remember those days. My father took LAA twice to and from LAX. We met him at the Hotel heliport once and also at the Newporter Inn in Newport Beach on the other occasion. KS

Chuck said...

I had more than a few rides in Embassy Air S-61Ts between the US Embassy and Baghdad International Airport. It's loud and shaky and the seats face the wrong way for a good view out the windows, but it got us to where we needed to go. After riding in one of these, I wonder sometimes about what sort of vibration-dampening mount they had to have used to shoot some of the historic aerial footage of Disneyland that we sometimes cross-reference here.