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La Floridiana by Will Moriaty    Now in our eleventh calendar year
    PCR #546  (Vol. 11, No. 37)  This edition is for the week of September 6--12, 2010.

"The American"  by Mike Smith
Miami Memories: Part One of Two  by William Moriaty
Nearly Almost Famous  by ED Tucker
DVD Review: Strip Club King:The Story of Joe Redner  by Lisa Scherer
Nothing on the Horizon  by Jason Fetters
I'd Like To Thank The Academy .... Burn Baby Burn! .... .... .... .... .... .... .... Mike's Record Shelf by Mike Smith

Miami Memories: Part One of Two

A look back at Miami International Airport's "Golden Years" from the late 1940's to the mid 1960's made possible by the incredible photo collections of "Miami Mike" Hiscano.

Many who are old enough might argue that Miami's best days, like much of America's, were from a period starting after the Second World War up to the early to mid 1960's. In that same category would undoubtedly have been Miami's incredible International Airport. Through the courtesy of photo collections and memorabilia furnished to me by my dear friend "Miami Mike" Hiscano, get ready to take a time machine back to Miami's jet setting airport!

Photo, right. The earliest photo in "Miami Mike's" collection is this row of twin engine piston airliners lined up in front of one of Pan American World Airways (PAA) maintenance hangers, probably in the late 1940's or early 1950's. The aircraft shown going from the foreground to the background are a PAA Curtiss-Wright C-46 Commando, two PAA Convair twin props, a National Airlines Model 18 Lockheed Lodestar and a Capital Airlines DC-4. Pictured In the background is a side view of the 1928-era terminal that originally comprised what was first called "Pan American Field". Designed by Delano and Aldrich, it was considered one of the first modern air terminals in the country. The airport name was later changed to the "36th Street Airport", then to Miami international Airport" (MIA). A better photo of the 1928 terminal is found in the next picture.

Photo, left. Capital Airlines Douglas DC-4: Another one of "Miami Mike's" earliest photos of Miami International Airport is of this red and white Capital Airlines Douglas DC-4. This photo was probably taken any time between the late 1940's and late 1950's. Capital was once America's fifth largest airline and was headquartered in Washington D.C. In 1961 it was merged into United Airlines. In addition to the Douglas DC-4, MIA was undoubtedly also visited by Capital's English turboprop Vickers Viscounts and the beautiful three stabilizer-tailed Lockheed Constellation. On July 20, 1952, a Capital pilot reported seeing a blue-white ball in the sky near Washington D.C. That U.F.O. report contributed to the near hysteria the would engulf the Washington area during one of Ufology's most important "flaps".

Photo, right. In addition to Pan American World Airways and Eastern Air Lines, National Airlines was another major player at Miami International Airport. In the foreground is a National Airlines Lockheed Constellation resplendent with a wing tank for additional fuel. Immediately behind that aircraft are two National Airlines Douglas DC-6's. National Airlines started life at Albert Whitted Airport in St. Petersburg, Florida in 1934. Variously known as flying "The Buccaneer Route", National was also known as "The Airline of the Stars" when this photo was taken sometime not long after the completion of Miami International Airport's 20th Street terminal on February 1, 1959. On the left hand side of the photo is a Pan American Douglas DC-7C and Pan American Douglas DC-6. It would also not be long before commercial jet traffic would become common at MIA. On December 10, 1958, National Airlines became the first airline to introduce domestic jet service to the United States with a Boeing 707 on lease from Pan American that flew between Miami and New York Idlewild with National Airlines crews.

When Miami International Airport opened its 20th Street Terminal on February 1, 1959, it opened what would become the first centralized airport terminal in the world, complete with hotel, news stands, gift shops, duty free, barber shops, lounges and other amenities that have become commonplace in airports around the world ever since. Named Wilcox Field after a local elected official who championed aviation in South Florida, much of the terminal still exists 51 years later although it has been renovated numerous times since then.

Next week, the "Jet Age" at Miami International Airport begins.

To comment on this or any other PCR article, please visit The Message Board. "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.