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New York helicopters/ Island Helicopters

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Any of you guys ever fly for Island Helicopters/ NY helicopters based in Garden City Long Island back in the 70's/80's/90's?????


I heard you could get a job with them flying as a copilot on an S58T with only 200 hours. That must have been great. Anyone have any stories or pics?

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  • 9 years later...

Many times, during the eighties and nineties, I chartered Island


Helicopters for motion picture photography.


I am not a pilot but I remember the pilot - Al Cerullo and the aircraft -


Aerospatiale Twin Engine, all Black with a permanent starboard side


photo mount. Doing 360's over the World Trade Twin Towers at 200'


was a real thrill. I remember Al was a member of SAG. On a all day


shoot, he would radio ahead for Ziti. His aircraft was always heavier


after an Italian lunch.



If anyone remembers Al, please contact me: blair3795@mac.com


Thanks, John McGinnis, IN


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Al Cerullo is a great guy! He was one of my first helicopter instructors back in 1972 or so. At the time I was in high school and working as a line boy at one of the NYC heliports. He (and others) spent countless hours talking to me about flying, prepping me to eventually be one of them. Talk about generous! He had a maroon '67 Corvette, and he used to take me with him when he'd go compete in gymkhanas and stuff. He lived on Long Island, but he'd drive all the way up into The Bronx where I lived, just to pick me up and drive *back* to Long Island for the event! Like I said, Al Cerullo is a great guy and I'll forever be in his debt.


And, Al is an awesome pilot! But he's kind of short, and so he did not hold the cyclic in the "traditional" way (arm on thigh, holding the grip low). Al held the cyclic up high, with his hand cupped over the top of the grip. He flew with some friction so the stick didn't do a lot of jiggling around as he flew...flew MOVIES. I figured that if he could fly smoothly enough for movie work while gripping the cyclic like that, I could learn how to do it too. In fact, somewhere I have a picture of him flying like that in a 206L.


In 1976 I was a charter dispatcher for Island. I had to assign ships and pilots to the jobs we had scheduled each day. As a line pilot, Al flew everything, including flying sightseers in an old 206A (N7882S). He never complained. Every morning...EVERY MORNING he'd show up with a big smile on his face, ready to fly...whatever. Never once have I seen Al get crabby or be in a bad mood. It's an outlook on life that I have tried over the years to duplicate myself - without much success, I'm afraid.


Al started doing film work pretty much by default - nobody else really wanted to do those jobs because a lot of times the shoots involved really, really early-morning departures or really, really late night returns...not to mention setting up the Tyler or Continental mounts. So Al started doing them...door-off photo shoots in the middle of winter. I mean, damn! But Al did 'em all, and soon he became the go-to guy on the east coast for film work. Check out his website, Hoverviews to see how many movies, tv commercials and music videos he's worked on.


I worked full-time at Island/NYH in Garden City, NY starting in1976. I began flying for them as an SIC in the S-58T and then became PIC in the 206 until about '84 when DHL Airways got their own ships and hired the pilots that had been flying for them when they contracted with Island (I had been one of them). During my time there I worked with some really great people. I also flew some fun jobs, and learned a lot while doing umpteen-thousand approaches into E34th Street when I was doing sightseeing tours in a "straight" 206L. I've had a long, happy career flying these crazy contraptions, and it's in large part thanks to guys like Al Cerullo.


I was going through my stuff - I know I have some pictures of Al. Alas, I can't find them. Yet. I will, and I'll edit this post when I do.

Edited by Nearly Retired
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  • 3 years later...

I worked there starting as line service while attending vo-tech for my A & P, Al took me on many filming excursions , very generous with his time , and I remember the Vette. Mechanics crew very dedicated to the high standards required , great memories of the crew . Highlights of my young life - DSF , now living in Massachusetts - fly on -


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I went up, with Al , several times on film jobs.  Once, we were about 300’ or more above the WTC.  I was shooting from an open door , looking straight down to the street below .  Al did several 360’s over the Towers and then we moved on .

‘It was a ‘movie moment ‘ that I will remember forever .  But Al made it safe and comfortable for my camera and I .

‘At one point , Al radioed in for food for us all .  It was his favorite - ZITI .  Each is us received about a 5 pound container .  It was a heavy lunch but very tasty !

Al was a man , in my life , that left a life long memory of an outstanding Pilot and Person .  AD ASTRA , CAPTAIN AL !


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