A piece of Sikorsky concept art from 1959 illustrating a commercial passenger pod for the S-60 flying crane helicopter. Into the 1960’s there were a lot of people thinking that commercial helicopter “airliners” would soon be a practical reality… and obviously, helicopters are perfectly functional in the role of hauling people to and fro, but the idea never really caught on. And in retrospect it’s not difficult to see why.
Compared to turbojet or turboprop passenger planes, helicopters are creakingly slow and quite short ranged. So the idea was that helicopter-liners would serve as short range feeder vehicles, transporting businessmen and the like from city centers to outlying regions. A popular goal was to fly passengers from the top of skyscrapers to distant airports, saving considerable time and trouble with ground traffic. But in the end, while helicopters could do that – as many a multi-millionaire with his own helicopter can attest – the cost was always high, and the noise of regularly scheduled very large choppers was excessive. There was also always the fear of helicopters this big zipping up and down the city streets, and building the infrastructure to support in-city commercial heliports just seemed like too much effort.