44 years ago on May 16th, 1977
A New York Airways helicopter crashes while loading passengers from atop the Pan Am building above Grand Central Terminal, killing five and seriously injuring two
The helicopter was part of New York Airways' service providing passenger flights from Midtown to JFK Airport, but the service was discontinued immediately following the fatal crash, and the company would declare bankruptcy after another helicopter crash two years later at Newark airport. An NTSB investigation found that the collapse of the right landing gear likely caused the helicopter to tip over, tilting the spinning blades into the building. The helicopter had landed and passengers were boarding at the time of the malfunction, so the wreckage remained on top of the building, but one death and one injury were due to debris falling down to the corner of Madison and 43rd Street, one block away from the Pan Am building. As the spinning blades disintegrated, debris flew as far two blocks in every direction and four blocks north. Vehicles below the site were damaged and the Pan Am building itself suffered extensive damage on the west side at the 36th floor. Four passengers and three crew members who had already boarded the helicopter received only minor injuries, and the captain and first officer described a calm scene as they assisted passengers during the evacuation.