We continue with the series on Pan Am and this week we want to talk about the Florida operations in Key West and then Dinner Key in Miami’s Biscayne Bay. 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
“Don’t measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.” —John Wooden
A sign hangs on the original office in Key West, Florida.
Last week, we discussed that the first flight for Pan Am was in October of 1927 from Key West to Havana and scheduled service followed. Key West remained the home of Pan Am until the arrival of the Fokker F10 Trimotors and with their increased range Pan Am moved to Miami in 1928, and set up operations at Pan Am field and Dinner Key in Biscayne Bay. The original building in Key West is still there and is now known as Kelly’s Bar & Restaurant, originally started by the actress Kelly McGillis. It houses a bar in the shape of an airplane wing, and the ceiling fans look like the rotary engines of an airplane. Located at 303 Whitehead Street, it is a must-see for all aviation enthusiasts.
Aerial View of Dinner Key in 1942—Courtesy of www.floridamemory.com/PhotographicCollection
Dinner Key in Miami’s Biscayne Bay was the new home to Pan AM after Key West. However, Pan Am field, which is modern day Miami International, was the home of the Fokker Trimotors until all operations were shifted to Dinner Key and the Clippers became the mainstay.
Dinner Key offered a degree of luxury that became a standard for Pan Am, and the world. It was this distinctive approach to business that made Pan Am the world’s preferred airline for international travel.
One of the distinctive features at Dinner Key was an eloquent upper deck restaurant which also included an observation deck. People would gather on the observation deck to watch the arriving Clippers and could then see the passengers disembark end enter the terminal through canopied walkways into the lower level. Below is a colorized rendering from the Pan Am web site which shows the terminal and a Clipper on its moorings. (www.panamair.org/History/Early/fl-miami-panamairport.jpg)
Below are a few more photos of the Dinner Key Operation. These photos and more are available at the State Library & Archives of Florida (www.floridamemory.com).
Next week we will move forward with our series focusing on the Florida operations for Pan Am, but we will shift to Miami International Airport and their operations there. This presentation will be mostly pictures of the early days with some facts to begin with. 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 12, 2010