This week I want to talk about the Florida operations for Pan Am at Miami International Airport. Miami International was originally called Pan American Field, and although they operated Dinner Key as their base of operations after Key West, the Clippers were over taken by technology and faster airplanes. Pan Am shifted operations back to land based airplanes at Miami International. As always, I would like all aviators to connect with their roots and one of the ways they can do that is by using the “Third Dimension Blog” as a resource. Come with me now as two-dimensional thinking meets one-dimensional thinking.
“Tomorrow every fault is to be amended; but tomorrow never comes.” —-Benjamin Franklin
Pan American Field, currently known as Miami International, opened in 1928 and served as the operating base for Pan American Airways Corporation. After Pan Am began South American Clipper operations, they shifted most of their operations to the Dinner Key seaplane base. Pan American Field remained mostly unused until Eastern Airlines began operations in 1934 and National Airlines in 1937.
In 1945, the City of Miami — under the authority of the newly created Port Authority — purchased Pan American Field from Pan American Airways Corporation, and renamed the field to “36th Street Airport”. In 1958 the modern day terminal was built and the 36th Street terminal was closed. The airport became known as Miami International Airport.
Pan Am maintained operations at Miami International Airport until they declared bankruptcy on January 8, 1991. In 1966, Pan Am moved their corporate headquarters to New York where the Pan Am building became one of the most recognized landmarks on New York City’s skyline.
We have talked now about Juan Trippe, the visionary, and touched briefly on the history of their beginnings. I would recommend that everyone read “When Giants Stumble” by Robert Sobel if you would like a detailed analysis of how the World’s Greatest Airline, Pan Am, became an American business tragedy. For a brief overview of the Pan Am story I would also recommend visiting www.panam.org. This website was established to preserve the history of the World’s Greatest Airlineand the people who made it great.
Now, a few pictures of Pan Am and the early days at Miami International—Enjoy.
Next week I will share a few more facts, only one picture, and we will wrap up the series on Pan Am. I will be moving all of the photos used, plus many more not used, into the photo gallery for reference and your enjoyment. As always, take some time to look back, connect with your past and remember as an aviator you are a “Gatekeeper of the Third Dimension.”
February 19, 2010