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Miami International Airport History  
User currently offlineZippyjet From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 5746 posts, RR: 12
Posted (12 years 5 months 2 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 6166 times:

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Photo © Mel Lawrence

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Photo © Don Boyd

MIA has a really rich history. However, I'm having a difficult time finding any in depth history about this commercial aviation gateway to Latin America. Can anyone tell me airline and concourse locations at MIA during the 1950's, 1960's and 1970's. All I know, is that Eastern occupied the north side of the airport (concourse D), Pan Am and National were in the middle (concourse E/F) and, Delta had their gates on the south side of MIA (concourse H). I've visited the official website for MIA and for the past couple of years they promise a movie about their history. I'm still waiting!  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

I'm Zippyjet & I approve of this message!
6 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineMxCtrlr From United States of America, joined Nov 2001, 2485 posts, RR: 32
Reply 1, posted (12 years 5 months 2 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 6140 times:

Since I grew up in MIA, let me fill in what I can for you.

The airport originally was created in 1929 by Pan American World Airways and was known as Pan Am Field. The original size of the airport was 125 acres located at what is now the new north runway area.

Aerial view of Pan Am Field - Circa 1930

The terminal building at Pan Am Field - Circa 1930

As far as airlines and their locations, (at least through the mid-1980's)...

Eastern occupied Concourses B, C and part of D.

Braniff used the opposite side of D from Eastern, with the county operating gates D-4 and D-12.

Concourse E was (and still partially is) the international concourse and was used by Pan Am and foreign carriers.

Concourse F was used primarily by National Airlines, but also was used by NorthEast, Capitol and some smaller carriers (like Air Florida). Pan Am took over the National gates in 1980 when they bought out NAL.

Concourse G was used by NW, Southern and UAL. Later Tower Air usually operated out of G Concourse.

Concourse H was almost exclusively used by Delta with one gate, H-2, being a "commuter airline" gate used by such notables as Air Sunshine (later bought by Air Florida), Shawnee, Air Miami and others. Piedmont (and later, US Air) also used some of the "lower" H gates.

MxCtrlr  Smile/happy/getting dizzy
Freight Dogs Anonymous - O.O.T.S.K.  Smokin cool

DAMN! This SUCKS! I just had to go to the next higher age bracket in my profile! :-(
User currently offlineEALBuff From United States of America, joined Jun 2002, 27 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (12 years 5 months 2 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 6116 times:

MxCtrlr - Enjoyed the history and the links, Thanks. I also grew in MIA, in a family of Eastern employees none-the-less. In the late 60's, early 70's, my father introduced me to spotting when we would sit out at the end of 9L. I haven't been back there in years, I wonder if they still let people spot out there?

I also became a frequent flier of Eastern during my teen years in late 70's and early 80's, visiting relatives up north on holidays, many fond memories.

Anyway, Zippyjet, if you search the data base under Eastern, National, and Pan Am, you find some good photos taken at MIA back in the day. Here are some of my favorites:

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Photo © David Schulman
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Photo © David Schulman

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Photo © David Schulman
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Photo © George W. Hamlin

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Photo © Frank Schaefer
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Photo © Frank Schaefer

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Photo © Don Boyd

User currently offlineJsnww81 From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 2397 posts, RR: 14
Reply 3, posted (12 years 5 months 2 weeks ago) and read 6063 times:

When the terminal opened in 1959, the Concourses were numbered, not lettered, and progressed in the *opposite* direction as they do today.

Concourse 2 (now Concourse G): Capital, Northwest Orient, TWA, Delta
Concourse 3 (now Concourse F): National, Northeast
Concourse 4 (now Concourse E): Braniff, Pan Am, all international flights
Concourse 5 (now Concourse D): Eastern
Concourse 6 (now Concourse C): Eastern

In the early 1960s, Concourse 1 (now Concourse H) was added for Delta and United on the south side of the building.

Through the 1960s upper-level gate holdrooms and jetways were added to all the gates at MIA - Concourse 1 opened with jetways for Delta, but the others only had ground-level gates when they were completed. Eastern's Concourse 6 (now C) was the last to be upgraded in 1967.

In the mid-1970s the concourses were assigned letter designations. The International Satellite (now part of Concourse E) was opened in 1974, connected by a Westinghouse shuttle system to the main terminal. The following year, Eastern opened a new Concourse B, although it only had a few gates. The big new Customs Hall was completed on the rear of the terminal (under the hotel and administration building) in the mid-1970s as well.

In the 1980s MIA launched a huge upgrade program to rebuild its aging terminal. Concourse B was expanded and upgraded to include a customs hall for Eastern (Pan Am did the same with its Concourse F gates that it inherited from National). Concourse E was demolished and rebuilt in stages through the 1980s. Eastern rebuilt Concourse D between 1985 and 1988 as well.

The construction continued in the 1990s... the first phase of Concourse A opened in 1995, followed by the second phase in 1999. Concourse H was rebuilt between 1996 and 1998.

Now American is building its huge new World Gateway terminal on top of Concourses B, C and D (B and C will be demolished, D will be rebuilt yet again), and United and its Star Alliance partners are building the new Concourse J on the east side of the terminal. Concourse G - the only concourse that is still in its 1960s configuration - is slated to be rebuilt at some point in the next decade as well.

User currently offlineScottysAir From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (12 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 6049 times:

Wow! Those are very interested history with MIA airport from many years ago, don't you? Also, when the new Star Alliances will opened in 2006, right? I still waiting for completed of new American World Gateway into expansion of concourse D and will be takedown with the concourse B, C will demolished. Will ever AA added more flight out of MIA to the Europe flight or Tokyo, Japan? Well, talk ya later!  Smile

User currently offlineJT8D From United States of America, joined Aug 2001, 170 posts, RR: 5
Reply 5, posted (12 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 6002 times:

Some very interesting info in this thread, thanks guys.

If I'm not mistaken some very old hangers still remain on the north side used by Miami Air.

On Sunday it didn't go un-noticed to Joe, Eddie and myself when Pan Am N362PA landed on Rwy 8 then taxied over to Signature FBO not far from where it all began for Pan Am in Miami.

Kind of a touching moment for us all there.  Crying

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Photo © Graham Hitchen


Graham Hitchen, KMIA
User currently offlineCody From United States of America, joined May 1999, 1962 posts, RR: 8
Reply 6, posted (12 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 5956 times:

Just to add a little, Air Florida used gates all over the airport. They would pull into whatever gates were vacant at the time. Sometimes, Eastern would have a vacant gate, but would not let them use it.

Hangar history is also very interesting in Miami. The big circular hangar was originally National's then Pan Am. I am not sure who is in it now although I suspect it is some sort of contractual maintenance operation. The old hangar across from what was once the Viscount Hotel (36th Street) belonged to Pan Am, then Air Florida, then Midway Express, then Midway (the original) and finally Carnival. I am not sure who is in it now, but I know it is still standing.

Visit the Air Florida website at


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