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La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
   Now in our fourth calendar year
    PCR #193  (Vol. 4, No. 49)  This edition is for the week of December 1--7.

The History of Aviation in Florida, Part Three: World War Two and the Nifty Fifties
 by Will Moriaty
"The Last Samurai"
 by Mike Smith
TV commercial Hall of Shame....Matrix Reloaded Again....Big Country Ultimate Collection
 by Vinnie Blesi
Superman: The Kansas Sighting....Permanent Job
 by John Lewis
The Passion of Christ....Things I Didn't Know, But Maybe I Should Have....Slush Pile/Tampa ComicCon
 by Brandon Jones
Post-Thanksgiving message....Famous Monsters Trademark News....Happy Birthday, Forry
 by Matt Drinnenberg
Jesus And Other Jews....OK, But How Do You Explain Madonna?....Congrats....Passing On....And The Winner Is....Nice Try, Jack...NEW MOVIES
 by Mike Smith
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The History of Aviation in Florida
Part Three: World War Two and the Nifty Fifties

Some people just can't seem to get along; the cycle of worldwide nastiness that the Bible alludes to in Ecclesiastes ("a time for war") would come full circle again with the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

And just like before the advent of the First World War, the United States was basically ill prepared for the Second World War.

And same as it ever was, Florida found itself again at ground zero in training aviators to fight both overseas and patrol the skies at home.

The Training Bases, Fields and Schools
In our previous two chapters we already covered the legendary Pensacola Naval Air Station and Glenn Curtiss Aviation School, so not much more needs to be discussed on that front, but there were several other notable training bases, fields and schools that the Second World War prompted the creation or expansion of:

Embry-Riddle Aero Institute;
7,145 aviation cadets were trained at this institute located at Arcadia's Carlstrom Field. From April 1941, to the closure of the field in November 1945, cadets there had logged 525,636 hours of flight and 45,000,000 miles with only one fatality. Both men and women were employed to train cadets. Embry-Riddle relocated its operations to Daytona Beach after the closure of Carlstrom Field.

Lodwick Aviation Schools
The most successful civilian training schools in Florida were both operated by Albert I. Lodwick. His Aviation Academy was located at Avon Park and his School of Aeronautics was located at Lakeland. Many British Royal Air Force (R.A.F.) and American cadets trained together at both schools.

Dorr Field, Arcadia
American and British cadets trained side by side at this facility. Due to the intensive demands of the training a number of causalities resulted. Twenty-five British R.A.F. cadets died during training and were buried at Arcadia's Oak Ridge Cemetery.

University of Miami, Coral Gables
Dormitories, cafeterias and classrooms were used to train cadets of both American and British nationalities. Navigation and meteorology classes were offered and in-flight training took place in Pan American Airways planes. In addition to draft age men, most of America's commercial airliners were also drafted into military service during the Second World War.

Eglin Field, Northwest Florida
Dedicated on august 4, 1937 in honor of Lt. Colonel Franklin I. Eglin who was killed January 1, 1937 in an aircraft crash. Possibly the largest air facility on earth, Eglin Air Force Base is where amongst many other things, General James H. Doolittle and his Raiders trained for their daring B-25 raid against Tokyo in 1942. Located in three counties in northwest Florida (Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton), Eglin occupies 464,000 acres and has ten separate airfields on premise.

MacDill Field, Tampa
Originally opened in 1939, Mac Dill Field was a major Florida player, training crews in B-17, B-25, B-26 and B-29 bombers. Most training accidents involved the B-26 Martin Marauder which led to the oft-repeated phrase "One a day in Tampa Bay". The base was named after Colonel Leslie Mac Dill who was killed in a plane crash near Washington D.C. on November 9, 1938.

In addition to those listed above, aviation Rollins College, the University of Florida, Florida Southern College and Ocala's Greenville Aviation School also operated schools. Additionally, almost every city and town in Florida had a military airfield in one form or another. In addition to Mac Dill, Tampa had Henderson and Drew Fields, Lakeland had Drone Field, and Jacksonville had numerous Naval Air Stations, as did Ft. Lauderdale and Banana River. Bases were also located in Sarasota, Brooksville, Clewiston and West Palm Beach.

Peacetime and the Nifty Fifties
The ravages and horrors of war behind them, the greatest generation to ever trod the earth traded in their Great depression of the 1930's and Second World War of the 1940's for the peace and prosperity of the 1950's.

It would be an era of unprecedented economic growth and technological advancement the likes of which the country had never seen before and most likely never will again.

It was an era that heralded rock n roll, bobby socks, leather and denim, street rods, and Elvis. Beautiful classic four engine piston commercial aircraft, of which the three tailed Lockheed Constellation was possibly the most elegant and graceful man made machine ever designed, ruled the skies.

The Big Three airlines of the 36th Street Airport, (by the 1940's renamed to Miami International Airport) Pan American World Airways, Eastern Air Lines and National Airlines all experienced unprecedented expansion and growth during this crowning decade in American history.

The Jet Age Arrives in Florida
The zenith of commercial aviation in Florida in the 1950's arrived in December 10, 1958 when four columns of black smoke approached from the north, heralding the arrival of the first regularly scheduled jet service to the Sunshine State. The aircraft, a National Airlines Boeing 707 was instrumental in making George Baker's brainchild the first domestic airline to operate jets.

The Space Age Arrives In Florida
Florida entered the Space Age with the launch of a V-2/WAC Corporal missile from Cape Canaveral on July 24, 1950. The rocket was manufactured from parts of a captured World War Two German V-2 rocket. This event would also contribute in propelling humankind in its next evolutionary step in the world of aviation.

By the 1950's the skies were pretty well conquered - - and although new speed, distance and endurance records as well as technological advances continued unabated, a new form of barnstorming was about to unfold and bring the stars closer to our reach - - this new form of barnstorming would be known as manned space flight.

Next Week: In Part Four, The Pioneers, Barnstormers, world-Beaters and Patron Saints of Florida Aviation History

"La Floridiana" is ©2003 by William Moriaty.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2003 by Nolan B. Canova.