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1968 LaGuardia International Airport Runway 31 Pre- Security Footage

I found this over at LiveLeak today after perusing a few pages. It appears that a couple of kids sneaked into LaGuardia and took some footage of planes taking off and landing. Thank You "distar97" for the awesome footage! "As a 15 year old kid in 1968, I liked visiting LaGuardia airport. One day a friend and I went out to runway 31 to film takeoffs and landings. We made our way out on the concealed side of the old seawall, filming a few planes along the way. After sunset we hopped… ( More...

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preacher1 10
Visiting a lot of different towns, laying over, and not wanting to venture far away, Airport restaurants and observation decks were a destination. Then immediately after 911, to walk into a terminal and see uniformed military with loaded M16's, and then to watch that progress into the TSA and all those observation decks start going away was such a wholesale change.
Sharon Stewart 7
Wonderful footage! Reminds me of the time that kids were in awe of Aviation. There was always a fairly large group of us who couldn't keep our heads down when on the playground. Going out to the airport was sheer joy. With all of the security that is now in place making flying such a hassle and airlines paying crap wages, it's no wonder today's youth have no interest in flying. Thanks for a great little "slice" of nostalgia.
cos3asg 5
Right on, Sharon! You share the same mindset that I have, and I was always looking at planes, especially when everyone else expected me to catch a baseball...
I am still that way. Thanks for a great post.
WhiteKnight77 1
I grew up on or near Air Force bases. I still live next door to a reserve base where PUIs are taught their final aircraft, in this case, C-130s. Also, Lockheed builds them as well as F-22s (or at least did). I am always running out to see what is taking off or landing though I can normally tell just by the sounds.

Back when I was in, I was on guard duty on the gate to the little air base we were using on an exercise in Korea and during NBC training, I totally disregarded the Korean guard yelling gas, gas, gas as I watched the plane fly overhead spraying water. If it really had been gas, well, I guess I wouldn't be here today.
Sharon Stewart 2
I still love the smell of burned Jet A!
Derek Vaughn 3
So true! It's sad that kids today don't pay any mind to aviation, whatsoever. As a kid, I used to love going to the observation pier at my hometown airport to watch, say.. about 3 or 4 airline departures in an hour of time.
Ray Chartrand 1
Yes, what got me interested in aviation was a complete tour of Dorval airport as a Boy Scout back in the early 60's.
We spent a full day visiting, operations, control tower, maintenance, flight training etc.
Then the Icing on the Cake was a fight in a 4 engine NorthStar where the captain circled over my home town. Try that nowadays !
Ed Berling 4
Are you sure those aren't diesel engines on those planes? : )
Dennis Harper 3
First, I openly admit making the film had an element of risk. My only concern about getting caught was in not being able to do the filming. If caught, nothing legal would have happened. As kids, we were well aware of how tough or easy-going security was. LGA police at the time were not harsh on kids. Also we noticed no one cared when small boats would come up by the rocks to watch landings up close. I figured I'd try and get some good footage a bit closer. Use Google Earth and look back with the historical time slider. It only goes to 1994, but it's about the same as when I was there. The water was very close to rwy 31.

BTW, I didn't label LaGuardia as being "International". I think that came from someone reposting it in another website.

In those days (for me, the late sixties) a kid appearing at an airport and showing interest in aviation was rewarded in a number of ways.

I was able to visit the LGA tower cab with no red tape at all. I only had to wait for a controller returning from lunch and ask if I could come upstairs and observe. Of course I had to figure out where the access door in the American airlines terminal was. Every time I was allowed to visit and they genuinely enjoyed getting into the details of air traffic control.

It was no problem for me to go around the terminals and find a idle airliner parked with no activity happening. I could simply walk down the jetway and study the cockpit for a while. Eventually a pilot would appear and I only had to say I was interested in flying and wanted to see things first hand. I knew my time was then limited but the pilots always engaged me in mini tutorial on whatever details I asked about. Never was security alerted.

Then, at age sixteen, I took myself to the big hanger next to the Marine Air Terminal. There was a primary flight school there, LaGuardia Flying Service. I signed myself up and was soon taking my first lesson... which was also my first time in a flying airplane. I had not even flown as a pax before. Soon I was following the jets out to the same rwy 31 where I had made the film. Eventually my mom came to visit the school. Sounds odd but she later said it was a normal thing in her Irish upbringing for parents to step back and let kids do things on their own. I never knew she was actually a nervous wreck. I don't remember my dad coming to the school.

What I didn't know at the time was the school's owner, Joe West, like the other adults at LGA, liked when a kid showed interest in aviation and he made sure there were no barriers to impede my curiosity.I now realize he was individualist and took a liking to my appearing with no parents.

I don't think any of this was so unusual at the time (1969) but nearly every element of this dialog is impossible today.Can you imagine the liability Joe West would be facing today? Look at the public hammering the JFK controller took when the press learned his kid had the mic for a short time. I guarantee that kid will never have insecurity issues.

Aviation turns kids into decisive adults... real fast.

Sadly, it appears I may be the last teen to have become a licensed pilot learning out of a NYC airport.


Eventually, I'll get the film professionally converted. The improvement will be dramatic.
Warren Ratis 1
Dennis, I was one of those kids who in high school flew with Joe at LaGuardia. I guess it was around 1971. At the time me and a friend were aeronautical engineering majors at Brooklyn Tech High School. Joe eventually bought out Speeds Flying Service at Flushing Airport. Joe had a lead pilot, Kimberly (Kim) Bailey who owned one of the Cherokees (N4207T) and I flew with her as well as a couple of other instructors there. I am sure you remember the taxiway at LGA crossing the road to the Marine Air Terminal that was manned by a guard to lower gates so aircraft could cross. I also recall the old link trainer in the rear of the classroom. As you indicated, Joe was an amazing guy who inspired kids.
di16 3
What great footage! Not bad for 1968 and 15 years old! Well done!
Miss the Good'ol days.
Love the smoke! Nice Video!
Jouko Rissanen 2
Reminds me of '63 and Goldie Hawn. She was smokin'
jfflyboy 2
Back when kids shot airplanes at airports with video cameras, not TSA agents with rifles. I wish I were around then, for the glory days of the airlines.
cos3asg 1
Wow. Exceptionally well put, jfflyboy. Poignant words, that harken back to a more innocent time, when kids could have fun at airports, marvel at the planes and noise and not fear yet another attack.
NCDesq 2
Great footage, thanks for sharing
cos3asg 2
This is seriously excellent footage, and I'm glad it has been both preserved and shared. My own love of flying began at Fredericton (CYFC) in '63 when the Golden Hawks performed (F-86 Sabres) and I was riveted by all that smoke and thunderous noise. To this day (50 years later), whenever I am lucky enough to catch a whiff of burning jet fuel, I savour it and am 6 years old again, marvelling at the wonder of flight. This video helps keep me that way also. Cheers, man for your great work.
s2v8377 2
Very cool!!! Back before the most exciting thing coming into LGA was a 737 or A320 family!!!
AccessAir -3
There is nothing exciting about and A320 or 737...
panam1971 2
"Hello...American Airlines mosquito fogging service..."
Brought back memories of my buddy and I (about 13 at the time in 1948) walking around the ramp area and into some of the airline hangars at LaGuardia until a guard spotted us after a half hour or so - and quizzed us about whether we were Russian spies! At least the security folks had a sense of humor back then.
i5xswipe 1
Back when real jets made lots of noise and poured black smoke! Not only did you hear them, you could feel them! Some are dazed by all the flashy glass and shiny jets. I still love the 727, 9 and 20 series Lears we fly!
MultiComm 1
Wow ... this is neat. I new the old jets were not very efficient but I didn't know they smoked that badly. I wonder if the atmospheric conditions and the low lighting made it look worse. Maybe a colder evening or something?
preacher1 4
You ought to have been behind a 707 back in those days or for the military minded, and F4 Phantom under full AB t/o with those 2 J79's cranking if you wanted to see smoke. That was before the day that folks realized that black smoke was unburnt fuel which also contributed to pollution. LOL
preacher1 4
You also have to remember that those early P&W JT's were among the earliest jet engines out there and smoke, noise, or pollution weren't high on anybody's radar at the time.LOL
WhiteKnight77 2
I remember seeing both the Blue Angels and The Thunderbirds at Offutt AFB in 71 I believe it is when both teams flew the F-4. The slot plane (No. 4) always had a black tail due to the smoke from the team leaders aircraft.

I also seem to recall Looking Glass left a good smoke trail as well as B-52s. Looking Glass was based on the 707 (EC-135) and had the same engines as its civilian counterpart until upgrades took place later in the 70s. I seem to recall some older C-130s smoking too.
preacher1 2
Honestly, just about everything smoked in those days. As I said below, Smoke, noise or pollution weren't on anybody's radar at the time. Even the 727's were out for awhile before the hush kits came out and that wasn't really for a civilian cause; I think that was primarily for airport people reasons, can't remember. A lot of that smoke reduction not only came thru engine upgrades but fuel refining upgrades as well. Actually they both sort of went hand in hand.
AccessAir 1
Also, the engine makers (Pratt and Whitney) equipped the the JT8Ds with cleaner burning combustors that removed a lot of to soot from the exhaust.
preacher1 1
Seems to me my comment above says something about engine upgrades, I thin about next to the last line.
99NY 1
Nah, thats just the nature of the beast when it comes to "wet" takeoffs!
AccessAir 1
The DC9s and 727s and 737s didnt make use of "wet takeoffs."
You will note that when you are looking at the tail parts of the 737 before it starts to to take its takeoff run, over in the left corner you can see (barely, because its dark) a Mohawk FH-227 taxiing to the gate. You notice the red rotating beacon on the top of the tail.
WhiteKnight77 1
The person who took made the film stated that it was below freezing out, but unless it is really cold, any moisture in the exhaust will not condense at ground level as it would at altitude.
Garry Boldenow 1
I, too, grew up very close to the local airport. When our family was in Wichita, I always pleaded to go to the airport and we'd spend an afternoon on the observation deck. Those fabulous days are gone forever. Airports are very hostile now. I don't see why any young person would venture into aviation now.
Alan Riley 1
Big Fun! As the sons of airline pilots, growing up under the approach paths of Atlanta International in the 1960's pre-security days, we thought we were entitled to the run of the airport. Friendly night shift mechanics often allowed us to
roam around the maintenance hangers and even sit unescorted in the cockpits as long as we didn't 'touch anything'. It's hard to believe now.
Before the current ATL terminal was built midfield, the terminal was on the north side of the airport and a huge field covered with bushes all there was between the east/west parallel runways. We often crossed the single barbed-wire fence and rode our bikes in there in the evenings. The bold among us could venture through the weeds to lay in the drainage ditches just yards from the wing tips of DC-8's, 727's and the occasional Constellation departing 8R or 9L. Wish I still had the pictures of the underside of their wings! Loud and thrilling.
Those were the days weren't they!
Doug Zalud 1
This was great. As a child in the 60's, my parents would treat me to trips to CLE to watch the planes coming and going. All the wonderful stuff I used to see there. And laying in bed at night listening to the propliners take off and drone on forever it seemed like. Those Beech 18's and DC-3's were special. Smoking jets are cool, but radials were better.

When I got older, my friends and I would go there and just sit and watch for hours. At night, we used to wander through the concourses going into the different shops looking around, and wander onto the parked aircraft as well.

Sometimes, we snuck under the fence and would watch from the end of the runway as the planes roared over us. It was a rite of passage for all of us. Back then, aviation was magical still. A way that you could escape to see all parts of the world, just like in books.

Nowadays, you show up someplace near an airport with a camera, and the police are there within fifteen minutes checking you out, and making you leave.

Kids these days have no clue what they missed out on.
ken young 1
There still is an observation lot for CLT alongside 18/36C. ON days where the prevailing wind direction has the pattern using 18C is best.
When I was a kid, my Dad took us over to KBUF. There was a small industrial park at the end of one of the runways. This was back in the early 70's. The aircraft were so much louder back then.
ONce in a while I take my scanner over to KCLT and hang out there for a bit.
I guess if the airlines don't allow passengers to smoke on flights nowadays, their planes aren't allowed either lol.
Ray Chartrand 1
Remember the days when as a kid, your parents could arrange a tour of the cockpit for you while in flight simply by asking a flight attendant
Anthony Murtha 1
The " International " aspect is appropriate. In the '39 Pan Am Clippers flew from the MAT to Europe. These flights continued up Dec '41 to Lisbon. After the war, service to foreign fields continued until the opening of Idlewild. Flights to Canada have been a route for a long time.

Speed Hanzlick was still teaching at Flushing Airport in the early 70's. So there may be few students after you.

In the 50's you could get close to the end of the runway 4-22 near the Parkway. Still remember feeling the vibration of the Connies when they flew over our house.
Immediately out of college in 1964 with no "Big Money" for entertainment, for thrills, we would go to MKC (Then the only commercial airport in KCMO) and climb over the earthen dike at the south end of what is now 01 and lay flat on our backs on the face of the dike. The approaching 707's from that vantage point were awsome! They would pass over us about 100 feet above with all 4 engines in idle but even then, what a roar. The only experience that kids today would get out of doing anything like that would be the arrest process by homeland security.
LGA is not international
Ummm, ACA, JZA, and WJA, at the very least, would disagree with you. They all regularly fly into and out of KLGA.

I know, I know, we like to think of Canada as America Jr, but they *are* a different country.
preacher1 1
Where in here, comment or article, does it say international? I just reread the story and all comments and couldn't find the word. Makes no difference anyway in that article is mainly about smoke, noise, and yesteryear.
1968 LaGuardia International Airport Runway 31 Pre- Security Footage
WhiteKnight77 2
I didn't name the video or article at LiveLeak. I just posted it here. Please do not shoot the messenger.
no malice intended at all. Just making a correction.
preacher1 1
Maybe in 68 it was. I can't remember. LOL. Heck of a note, I looked all thru the article and comments, never thinking to look in the title. LOL. My apologies for being so picky this early in the morning.
Very nice. I remember doing this in the 90's, when I used to hang around airports in the Air National Guard. Except for the thick black smoke, this looks very familiar.
Ken Lane 1
There was once a couple prime spots by Lambert Field I'd hang out at. Things have changed so much, I'm not even sure where they were located.

Even at Hartsfield as a courier back in the `90s I'd be stuck there waiting for a package to show up so it could be delivered upon receipt. So, I'd go ride the trains back and forth between the concourses and just stroll around the whole airport.

Those days are truly history.


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