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La Floridiana by Will Moriaty    Now in our eleventh calendar year
    PCR #513  (Vol. 11, No. 4)  This edition is for the week of January 18--24, 2010.

"Crazy Heart"  by Mike Smith
The Best and Worst of 2009  by Mike Smith
DVD Review: "Corrosion Corner"  by William Moriaty
Absolutely Fabulous: The Fab Four  by ED Tucker
Revenge of Japanese Toy Shopping  by Jason Fetters
Life, Love and Kramer  by John Miller
Branching Out .... Golden Comments .... Movie Notes .... Money In The Bank .... Someone Got Fooled .... Passing On .... .... .... Mike's Record Shelf by Mike Smith

"Corrosion Corner"

Produced By: Avion Video LLP
Running Time: 53 minutes

The prime time of my life for collecting air line schedules (or timetables) and visiting airports to see air line operations was between 1964 and 1986. That magical era spanned between the ages of 8 and 31 for me and were the same years of my comic book collecting and television watching.

Although my comic book collecting hit its zenith between 1964 and 1967 (DC titles, particularly Carmine Infantino's Batman and Flash and Curt Swan's Superman ) with a brief reprise between 1978 and 1985 (Marvel titles, including Dr. Strange, Howard the Duck and Spider-Woman along with Gene Colon's renditions of Batman for DC) my love of airlines and aviation never had much in the way of slack periods.

The zenith of my love for aviation was between 1970 and 1985 and centered around airline operations in Tampa and Miami. The airline scene in Florida would never see another era like that as there were still piston airliners built in the 1930's, such as PBA's Douglas DC-3's, transporting passengers alongside British Airways Concorde SST's at Miami International Airport!

Between 1978 and 1986 it was a ritual each Sunday afternoon that my friend Greg Van Stavern and I would go to the top parking garage at Tampa International Airport and plane spot, logging airliner types and their registration numbers. My fondest memories were those of the intrastate commuter airlines such as Florida Air Lines, Shawnee, PBA (Naples Provincetown Boston Airways), Dolphin Airways, Air Sunshine, Marco Island Airways and Vero Monmouth, almost all of which operated the old Douglas DC-3 (with the exception of Dolphin Airways and Marco Island Airways).

Of course, no person has a better command of Florida's commuter airliners of that era than David Henderson in his wonderful book, "Sunshine Skies: Historic Commuter Airlines of Florida and Georgia". You owe it to yourself to buy a copy!

After visiting the airport, Greg and I would often venture down to the Mexican Burro restaurant on Gandy Boulevard for dinner where oft times we would hear the old 3's slowly fly over on their way to Punta Gorda, Naples and Key West. It was always our dream to board on to an old "Goony Bird" and take a leisurely flight down to the tropical paradise that was South Florida.

By the mid-to-late '70's several of these commuters "modernized" their fleets by adding the 1950's era twin engine piston Martin 404's to their schedules, the most beautifully painted of which was Marco Island Airways which truly evoked the blue and aqua colors of the beaches of that community south of Naples.

Although my experience with Miami International Airport goes as far back as 1970 when my half brother, Patton Pender, flew Boeing 727-200 jets for National Airlines, I would not see the airport really up close and personal until Greg Van Stavern and I took a trip to Miami in July 1982.

For over three years prior to this, Greg really whet my appetite to visit the airport as he would bring back stories and photos of what he had seen during the course of his work week in Miami. Armed at the Burro with photos, each week's description seemed to outdo the last week's. He was describing the airliners of my childhood - - the piston engine Douglas DC-3's, DC-4's, DC-6's and DC-7's, the Lockheed Constellation, the Curtiss C-46, the Convair 340, 440, the turbo prop Convair 580 and 640 and the turbo prop Lockheed Electra.

He had also mentioned seeing old first generation jets such as the Boeing 707, Boeing 720, Douglas DC-8, Convair 880 and 990. Without exception almost every one of these aircraft, already from a bygone era in civil transportation, were hauling cargo for various Caribbean, Central and South American operators from a portion of Miami's airport nicknamed "Corrosion Corner" by the locals as well as by airline-spotting enthusiasts.

My visit to Corrosion Corner in July 1982 was magical. All the airliners of my childhood were scattered about the area just south of N.W. 36th Street en masse! I will never forget seeing half a dozen tails of parked Belize Airways Boeing 720's literally hanging over the perimeter road near N.W. 36th Street near the FEC Rail Road yard!

We would pick up tacos for lunch and dinner at the Taco Tico and watch the historic, if not tired and smoky old iron pull in and out of the old Customs Building parking apron. Ah, those days were magical - - they were the best!

Little did I realize that close to 30 years later I would relive much of the splendor of those years and that magical place due to DVD technology. While thumbing through an airliner magazine at Borders Books this past fall I saw an ad by Avion Video of England offering a DVD called "Corrosion Corner". Although desperately strapped for cash due to my housing situation, I just had to have this DVD especially as it would turn out to be my only Christmas gift this year.

Although I received the DVD after Christmas, it was worth the wait! Possibly the finest collection on the subject to date. The film was shot probably between 1975 and 1980 by Dieter Ramthun, probably with a 16mm camera, and is wonderfully narrated by Howard Asbridge, whose British accent gives a touch of class to this incredible work of an incredible era gone by.

Remember my describing the dream Greg and I had of riding on a DC-3 down to Naples or Key West? Well, get ready, because that dream came true in a sense, as there is a passenger video of a flight from Tampa International Airport to Naples in an old PBA "Goony Bird"!

In addition there is passenger video of a flight on a Marco Island Airways Martin 404 from Marco Island to Miami! The topper is Dieter Ramthun's flight from Miami to Santo Domingo aboard the old Argo S.A. Lockheed L-749 Constellation that Greg used to spot all the time in the late 70's! Ramthun also caught incredible video onboard an Air Haiti C-46 Commando flight. The Air Haiti C-46 also held a special place in Van Stavern's heart when he gave me his weekly spotting report from Corrosion Corner while gulping tacos and Dos Equis at the Burro.

This video has live ramp action of an almost endless array of airliners from the '30's, '40's, '50's, '60's and '70's. In addition to Miami International, operations at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International, Tampa International, Naples Municipal and Marco Island Airport are also featured.

In addition to Ramthun's flights mentioned above, the majority of the DVD is dedicated to the daily live action at Corrosion Corner with such notables as the Rich International and Air Haiti C-46's; Dominicana, Cayman Airways Cargo and Seagreen DC-6's; In Air Panama, Lanica, Elvis Presley's Hound Dog One and Monarch Air Convair 880's; Air Sunshine, Florida Airlines, PBA and Marco Island Airways Martin 404's; Air Sunshine, Sky Freight and PBA DC-3's; TAN and Zantop Lockheed Electras (remember those Zantop Electras that visited MacDill Air Force base each afternoon during those same years?) ; ANDES and Airlift International DC-8's; and Southeast, Aerocondor and Global International Boeing 707's.

Lastly, there are great shots of then current passenger carriers such as Braniff DC-8's (including the Alexander Calder edition) and Boeing 727's; Delta DC-8-54 and 61; Delta DC-9; Eastern DC-9, Boeing 727, Lockheed L-1011 and Airbus A-300; United Boeing 727; Trans World Lockheed L-1011; National Boeing 727; Pan Am Boeing 747 and DC-10; Piedmont Boeing 737; Republic DC-9; and Aeromexico DC-10.

The DVD also features a listing of all the aircraft in their appearance simply by referring you to their web site for a PDF print out.

For the airline enthusiast who treasures Miami International Airport and its Corrosion Corner of the late 1970's, this video is an absolute must! I rate it Six Stars out of Five!

"La Floridiana" is ©2010 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 ©2010 by Nolan B. Canova.