#TBT: A Look Back at Miami International Airport in the 1950s

Aug 3, 2017

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This Throwback Thursday, we’re looking back at Miami International Airport (MIA), home to American Airlines, and one of the largest gateways between the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean. Thanks to its proximity to tourist attractions and its strategic location to handle connecting traffic between North America, Latin America and Europe, Miami is America’s second-busiest airport for international passengers.

The nation’s first modern passenger terminal opened at Pan American Field in Miami in 1928. During the mid-1930s, it grew into the 36th Street Airport and was officially named Miami International Airport in 1948. As the number of flights to the airport increased, the old terminal on 36th Street was closed to make way for a modern passenger terminal, which has since greatly expanded.

The video above gives an inside look at MIA’s operations in the early ’50s, starting in the control tower, where pen and paper maps were still being used for navigation. Back then, strip boards — strips of paper with flight information written on them — were used to line up the arriving aircraft. From a distance, what seems to be a Curtiss C46 Commando aircraft lands in an airport that was still pretty flat and barren.

Currently, MIA is giving travelers a look at vintage footage of Miami from the 1920s to the ’80s via video footage displayed on old-timey monitors in MIA’s Concourse F, courtesy of Wolfson Archives. Last year, nearly 45 million passengers traveled through the airport and chances are, some will stop and look at the throwback footage on display.

Featured image courtesy of the Miami-Dade Aviation Department.

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