In Memoriam


Philip Landi, who led Port Authority's helicopter operations, dies at 89
Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Philip Landi of Hackensack, who managed the Port Authority's helicopter operations for nearly four decades, died Saturday. He was 89.

PHILIP LANDI His role in establishing heliports in New York City and promoting the business use of helicopters put Mr. Landi in both the Guinness World Records and the Aviation Hall of Fame of New Jersey.

In September 1976 he piloted a twin-engine Bolkow chopper from Teterboro Airport to a 20-foot-square raised steel platform atop the World Trade Center's south tower. The round trip was the first landing and takeoff from the world's highest building helipad 1,385 feet above street level according to Guinness.

Mr. Landi was inducted into the Aviation Hall of Fame in 1986. His plaque states that the Port Authority helicopters under his supervision logged 56,725 hours without a fatal incident.

"Is this any way to travel? You bet it is!" he exclaimed when a newspaper reporter joined him for a helicopter jaunt over Manhattan in 1969.

That effusiveness was typical, said his daughter Colette Sipperly. "Flying helicopters was the joy of his life," she said.

Mr. Landi logged 2,790 flight hours in his long career, according to a 2009 profile in ROTOR, the magazine of Helicopter Association International.

His professional highlights were many. Marine Squadron One honored Mr. Landi for his efforts during the arrivals of five U.S. presidents, beginning with Dwight Eisenhower, at Port Authority helicopter facilities.

In 1981, the U.S. State Department chose Mr. Landi to evaluate the Royal Family's chopper pilots before Prince Charles was flown over the metropolitan area. Mr. Landi accompanied the prince on the aerial tour, pointing out sights along the way.

The Rockaway native served in the Army Air Corps during World War II. He worked in aircraft maintenance, particularly of the B-29 bomber. He later attended Spartan School of Aeronautics in Oklahoma and then got a job helping Fred Wehran manage Teterboro Airport.

Mr. Landi became a Port Authority employee when the bi-state agency purchased Teterboro Airport from Wehran in 1949. He was put in charge of the new helicopter division the following year.

Mr. Landi, formerly of Hasbrouck Heights, is survived by his wife of 65 years, Venus; daughters Cheryl Lombardo of Oradell and Colette Sipperly of Montclair; two sisters, Stella Bencel of Wharton and Rose Narcise of Denville, and three grandchildren.

Visiting is Wednesday from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. at Costa Memorial Home, Hasbrouck Heights. The funeral will be Thursday at 11 a.m. at Corpus Christi R.C. Church, Hasbrouck Heights.


Published in The Record on May 8, 2012

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