WILLIAM MORIATY RESPONDS
Thank you very much for your letter and interest in our publication.
I have very fond memories of the old Tampa international Airport terminal at Westshore and Spruce Streets.
That is the terminal that my parents used to take jaunts on National Airlines to Key west and Havana from and on Mackey Airlines out to the Bahamas in the late 40's and early 50's. I first flew into the old terminal in July 1970 on a Delta DC-8-61 flight, then flew a National DC-8-20 to Miami and back later that same week. The current-day terminal was under construction west of Runway 18L/36R at that time.
In April 1971 I was there to see the changing of the guard of the terminals. I flew in to the old terminal on Delta DC-9-30 from Detroit and flew back from the new terminal on a Delta DC-8-54 back to Wayne County Metropolitan.
I saved the Tampa Tribune article of that week that had a section about the new 83 million dollar terminal. It was unique to the world in that it was very user friendly, having a core terminal called a "Landside" and having satellite terminals called "Airsides" where arriving and departing flights were parked. The "Landside" and 'Airsides" were connected by monorails, also a sweeping new concept for airports. This concept helped eliminate walking long distances that is so common in most major airports. The airport, as a result of this innovative design, has consistently ranked as one of the finest in the world both with travelers and the airline industry. It is what I consider to be the finest public works accomplishments associated with the city of my birth.
In 1972 Hillsborough County Community College made a satellite campus out of the old terminal, and one of my fondest memories was going with my sister, a student there, into the old terminal's control tower and watching "Shock Theater" on a TV there, while watching nighttime flight operations out the tower's large windows.
Once Tampa was awarded the Tampa Bay Buccaneer NFL franchise by the mid-70's, the old terminal met with the wrecker's ball so that a portion could be used as a part of the team's training facilities, and by the early 1980's, the White double-breasted Raytheon general aviation building was erected on that same spot that the old terminal was located.
The "Landside"/"Airsides" concept at Tampa International has since been mimicked by others, most notably Orlando International Airport (formerly Mc Coy Jetport).
I have never been to the West Palm Beach International facility, but I have visited and flown into Fort Lauderdale's airport on several occasions.
I first visited FLL in 1984 when the old terminals were still there. The place reminded me of having several disconnected bus stations attached to a similar parking area, which I found bizarre for a place as wealthy and highly rated as Fort Lauderdale. I most enjoyed the western part of the field which still had the old Ft. Lauderdale Naval Air Station barracks and bunkers. It was of course from this field where 'Flight 19" took its voyage into oblivion into the Bermuda Triangle in December 1945. The southern party of the field had several derelict piston heavies including a Lockheed L-69 Constellation, several DC-3's, a PBY Catalina and a Lockheed L-1649 Constellation which inevitably made it to Kermit Week's "Fantasy of Flight' attraction in Polk County, not far from where I currently reside.
I would not see the FLL complex again until July 1991 when I flew a US Air 737-300 to there with my wife. The new terminal and associated roadways were incredible. I remember taxiing to the new complex and seeing several old Turks-Caicos DC-6 freighters parked at the northern freight tarmac in the nighttime darkness. Even more interesting was a DC-7B painted in American Airline colors and a PBY Catalina parked on the north side of the field near I-595. One of the Turks-Caicos DC-6's flew over my head some four years later when my wife and I visited our dear friend Susan Hughes in Fort Lauderdale. In October 1997 I would probably see for the last time a fully operational DC-6 freighter fly, as an unmarked 6 thundered westward down Runway 27, barely clearing Australian Pines about a mile west of the field due to its sluggish rate of climb and heavy load. Incredible!
Just when I thought the chapter on piston heavies was closed in South Florida, I would see the same DC-7B parked at FLL in 1991 fully operational at Opa Locka in June 2001! Rumors are that theis same aircraft now operates out of Fort Pierce along with two DC-6's today ( as recently as the fall of 2003 I saw a DC-6 or DC-7 fly high overhead when I was jogging at Al Lopez Park in Tampa - - when I was doing field work for my job outside of Brooksvile in October this year I first heard then saw a DC-3 lumbering high in the Florida sky!)
Again Juan, thanks for your letter and for reading "La Floridiana"!
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