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Philip Landi

Obituary
  • "The impact of your work, will last forever. May the..."
    - Donna Bencel
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    - Donna Bencel
  • "My heartfelt condolences on the passing of Phil. I worked..."
    - Paul Bolognese
  • "Colette....so sorry to hear the passing of your Dad! I..."
    - Susan Schulz
  • "My heart is full of so many memories of growing up on the..."

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

His role in establishing heliports in New York City and promoting the business use of helicopters put Mr. Landi in both the "Guinness Book of 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 ROTORcq, 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 sites 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.

Among the facilities Mr. Landi established was the world's first rooftop helipad, at the Port Authority's offices on Eighth Avenue in Manhattan. He helped Boston, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., develop commercial heliports, and in retirement was a consultant to Hackensack University Medical Center, which has a helipad for emergency medical flights.

Mr. Landi, formerly of Hasbrouck Heights, is survived by |his wife of 65 years, Venus; daughters Cheryl Lombardo of Oradell and Colette Sipperly of Upper 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.

Sipperly recalled that as a child, she enjoyed thrilling chopper rides with her dad at the controls the sort of trip now verboten in the post-9/11 age. "He buzzed the Statue of Liberty," she said. "Another time, I was flying with him and he said, 'Well, you're not supposed to do this, but we can go under this.'x" This was the George Washington Bridge. Email: levin@northjersey.com
Published in The Record on May 8, 2012
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