By Jack Elliott
The big sign at Westchester County Airport, in 1958, said, “Panorama Sightseeing Flights $3.”
Ted Healy Sr. and Ted Healy Jr. ran the business, which they operated out of a four-square-foot cubicle in the terminal building. Just across the way, Ted Healy Sr.’s wife ran the terminal newsstand and candy counter, which earned the flight operation the unofficial title, “Candy Counter Airline.” Rumor had it that Mrs. Healy’s sales exceeded that of the “airline,” which operated one Cessna 170B.
Just a few weeks ago, Panorama Flight Service, Inc., moved into a brand new $11 million full service FBO facility, the cost of which was shared by Panorama and the county. Ted Healy Jr.’s three sons now run the business. Gene Condreras is president, with Edmund Condreras serving as vice president and treasurer and Ken Healy as director of charter sales. (The Healy’s father died when they were very young. One of the sons kept their birth father’s name and two elected to take the name of their stepfather who raised them.)
The three sons, the third generation to run the business, have built it into a major FBO, but they have not forgotten the operations’ humble beginnings. They display a photo of their grandfather and father with a sign reading, “Panorama Air Tours Presents a Thrilling Conducted Tour Over the Asphalt Jungle.”
In the early days their grandfather, who spent most of his working life as a CBS cameraman, used to use a bullhorn to attract customers to that tour. Their father took over the operation in 1964, bought their first twin-engine aircraft and started an on-demand charter service. Only one operation still on the field preceded Panorama.
In 1981, their dad moved the operation into a new, modern facility and his three sons joined him in the business.
Their new facility, built on a 21-acre site with its own perimeter road, includes 10,000 square feet of modern executive office space and flight school space. There is a 20,000 square-foot hangar and 32 T-hangars with two 5,000 square foot hangars attached.
Panorama offers maintenance service for both piston and turbine aircraft and they have an avionics shop. They manage six aircraft—three piston and three turbine—all of which are on a 135 certificate for charter service.
They operate one of two flight schools on the field. Their fleet consists of 10 172s which are 1998 models or later, and a twin-engine Beech Duchess. The school is equipped with a simulator and a large classroom.
Panorama is a Cessna piston aircraft dealer. Jon Boyd, a former Vietnam helicopter pilot, is director of sales, but he wears many hats in the operation.
The impressive new facility has three well-equipped lounges. There is a passenger waiting area with a satellite TV system, a second passenger lounge with a coffee station, Internet access, Satellite TV and DVD systems, and a fully equipped pilots’ lounge with large leather reclining chairs.
The facility has a good-sized conference room and three weather-briefing stations.
The FBO has 50 employees.
“Each of us (the three brothers and their key employees) has their business phone number, their home number, and their cell phone number on their business cards. Our customers can reach us anytime, day or night,” said Gene Condreras. “This is our business. This is our life.”