San Francisco and Oakland Helicopter Airlines

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San Francisco and Oakland Helicopter Airlines
IATA ICAO Callsign
SFO
Founded 1961
Commenced operations June 1st, 1961
Ceased operations 1985
Headquarters Oakland, California
Key people Mike Bagen

San Francisco and Oakland Helicopter Airlines (also known as SFO Helicopter Airlines and SFO Helicopter)[1] was a helicopter airline service offering scheduled passenger flights between San Francisco, Oakland, and other Bay Area cities. It was founded in 1961 but disappeared from the Official Airline Guide[2] 15 years later before finally going out of business in 1986.

History[edit]

A Sikorsky S-61 of the airline.

San Francisco and Oakland Helicopter Airlines was one of the first helicopter airlines to operate without a federal subsidy[3] and it was also the first to operate with only turbine engine helicopters. Since helicopter landing sites were scarce at that time, the port of Oakland's board committee supported the service. Passenger flights started with two leased 10-passenger Sikorsky S-62[4] turbine helicopters. In late summer of 1961, the SFO Helicopter Airlines system timetable stated that 68 flights a day were operated,[5][6] with the airline claiming that its helicopters made less noise than neighborhood trucks.[7] In 1962, the U.S. Post Office Department granted San Francisco and Oakland Helicopter Airlines airmail contract number AM-103, allowing it to transport U.S. Mail until 1976.[8] In 1965, the airline tried operating a 15-seat Westland-Bell SK-5 hovercraft between San Francisco International Airport (SFO), Oakland International Airport (OAK), and San Francisco.[9][10] In 1969, it carried 320,000 passengers on more than 100 flights a day.[11] According to the April 27, 1969 SFO Helicopter Airlines timetable, each arriving and departing flight at SFO served not one but two gates: American Airlines gate 45 and TWA gate 53 with staggered arrival and departure times for each flight at each gate being reflected in the timetable.[12] In May 1968, after continuous growth, the company's schedule reached 14 weekday departures from the San Francisco Ferry Building,[13] 11 from Marin, 13 from Berkeley, three from a parking garage in Oakland, and 9 from Lafayette. For interline passengers connecting at SFO and then heading east beyond Colorado, the ticket to SFO cost $4.75 from Marin or Lafayette and only $4.50 from Berkeley.

The San Francisco and Oakland Helicopter Airlines' fleet as of 1965 was made up of one Sikorsky S-62 helicopter and three Sikorsky S-61N helicopters.

The airline was declared bankrupt in July 1970 and by the end of the year, destinations had been reduced to Marin, Berkeley, SFO, and OAK. In 1973-1974, Emeryville replaced Berkeley as one of their reduced destinations. According to the October 26, 1975 SFO Helicopter Airlines timetable, 53 flights were being operated on a daily basis with an additional 26 flights being operated every day except on Saturdays with service being flown from San Francisco International Airport, Oakland International Airport, Marin County and Emeryville.[14]

They disappeared from the Official Airline Guide[15] in 1976 and had gone out of business altogether in 1986.[citation needed]

SFO Helicopter Airlines had resumed scheduled passenger service by 1983.[16] According to the July 1, 1983 Pocket OAG, 22 round trip flights were being operated every weekday with Bell 206 helicopters between San Francisco International Airport and Oakland International Airport.[17] This same referenced OAG also lists competition from another helicopter airline on the SFO-OAK route: Spirit Heliporter operating 25 round trip flights every weekday with Bell 206 helicopters with this same company also flying 24 round trip flights every weekday between SFO and China Basin in San Francisco.[18] By 1985, the OAG listed SFO Helicopter service between SFO and OAK and also between SFO and the Oakland Convention Center with all flights being operated with Bell 206 helicopters.[19]

Destinations[edit]

The following destinations were served at various times by San Francisco and Oakland Helicopter Airlines during its existence:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.timetableimages.com, Sept. 1, 1961 SFO Helicopter Airlines system timetable & Oct. 26, 1975 SFO Helicopter system timetable
  2. ^ Aviation law reporter, Volume 2 CCH Incorporated, Commerce Clearing House. 
  3. ^ James R. Chiles. The God Machine: From Boomerangs to Black Hawks: The Story of the Helicopter. p. 218. 
  4. ^ "New Helicopter Service". Flying Magazine: 8. August 1961. 
  5. ^ http://www.timetableimages.com, Sept. 1, 1961 SFO Helicopter Airlines system timetable
  6. ^ Richard A. Leyes, William A. Fleming. The history.. of North American small gas turbine aircraft engines. p. 255. 
  7. ^ Lindy Boyes (December 1961). "San Francisco and Oakland Helicopter Airlines". Flying Magazine. 
  8. ^ "CAM Contract Air Mail First Flights AM-103". Retrieved 25 January 2012. 
  9. ^ http://www.airfields-freeman.com/CA/Airfields_CA_SanFran.htm#sanfrandowntown
  10. ^ Flight Global: 80. 30 December 1965.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. ^ Ronald T. Reuther, William T. Larkins. Oakland Aviation. p. 101. 
  12. ^ http://www.timetableimages.com, April 27, 1969 SFO Helicopter Airlines timetable, San Francisco Airport schedules
  13. ^ http://www.airfields-freeman.com/CA/Airfields_CA_SanFran.htm#sanfrandowntown
  14. ^ http://www.timetableimages.com, Oct. 26, 1975 SFO Helicopter Airlines timetable
  15. ^ Aviation law reporter, Volume 2 CCH Incorporated, Commerce Clearing House. 
  16. ^ http://www.timetableimages.com, Sept. 1, 1983 SFO Helicopter Airlines timetable cover
  17. ^ http://www.departedflights.com, July 1, 1983 North American Pocket Official Airline Guide (OAG), San Francisco-Oakland flight schedules
  18. ^ http://www.departedflights.com, July 1, 1983 North American Pocket Official Airline Guide (OAG), San Francisco-San Francisco China Basin flight schedules
  19. ^ http://www.departedflights.com, Feb. 15, 1985 Official Airline Guide (OAG), San Francisco-Oakland & San Francisco-Oakland Convention Center flight schedules
  20. ^ http://www.airfields-freeman.com/CA/Airfields_CA_SanFran.htm#sanfrandowntown
  21. ^ http://www.timetableimages.com, April 27, 1969 SFO Helicopter Airlines timetable, Concord flight schedules
  22. ^ http://www.timetableimages.com, Aug. 1, 1962 SFO Helicopter Airlines timetable, Sunnyvale flight schedules

External links[edit]