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zippyjet
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Flying Back In The Day

Sat Nov 22, 2003 3:54 pm

First off, I want to thank everyone that responded to my inquiry regarding MIA's rich history. Now, it is my turn to share some tidbits and recollections.
Some of this is from a kid's perspective. My maternal grandparents lived in Miami Beach until their passing in the late 60's. So, many a summer, me, my folks and my little sister were off to Miami. I'm 47 years young so, my flying experiences go way back in the day. My family was one of a rare breed back then. Back in the 60's working middle class families such as mine usually drove or even went by train (pre-Amtrack era). Flying was magical to me. Up till 1968, when we flew, we had to dress up. This was the only negative to traveling by air as I hated wearing a tie and jacket. My dad owned a Jurassic hardware store near the waterfront of Baltimore. The area now known as the "Inner Harbor." Back then, this area had old wharves and rats that made Willard and Ben look pint sized. My dad always went to work wearing a suit and tie. If he had to cut wood or mix paint he wore a smock. Times were different back then. So, needless to say, tie and jacket were not optional. I remember my mom wearing gloves to fly! Sorry for going on this tangent.
Back to flying to Miami. We exclusively flew Eastern from BWI then Friendship Airport to MIA. My first flight not on Eastern was summer of '62 flying home from MIA. Eastern went on strike so we had to fly a flight on National. This was not non-stop and my last flight on a propeller driven bird. It was a Lockheed Electra.
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Photo © John P. Stewart


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Photo © John P. Stewart

. This flight's itinerary was: MIA-FLL-JAX-DCA and then finally home (BWI).
What I remember of MIA circa the 60's:
1. Main terminal (ticketing/departures) was a light tropical green color. Which was done over in 1979-1980. This remake was dark and dingy at least to me.
2. Ticket counters had those old time 1950's Toledo scales with the pointer. I remember one of the Latin American Airlines still using them at MIA as late as 1980!
3. Baggage claim area was NOT ENCLOSED! That's right, you felt that Miami heat. Looking back, it was kind of funky in a retro cool sort of way. I believe that when Concourse B was built for Eastern back in the early 70's, the airport began slowly enclosing and adding much needed air conditioning to the baggage claim level.

4. As late of summer 1966, I remember that on the north side of the terminal, there was a fancy sit down restaurant with a tiki torch motif to its entrance. We never sprang for that fancy airport food. And, I remember the last concourse being what is now "D." Of course this was Eastern's gates. Back then (1966) at least for Eastern their jet bridges were for first class passengers only. We plebians in coach ascended the air stairs at the aft entrance. This was on a Boeing 720.
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Photo © George Gayuski

As Jsnww81 stated in his post; terminal C, I thought it was D was upgraded in 1967. However, I remember that jetbridge in August of 1966. I thought C pier was the one that was built new in 1967 or 1968.

Due to another labor strike by Eastern in 1966 we had to fly Delta to MIA. To make a long story short, this entailed flying a DC-9 from DCA to ATL. Then connecting in ATL for the flight to MIA. Both Delta flights were significantly delayed and I remember my parents being non too happy campers. The ATL-MIA leg was supposed to also be a DC-9 but, due to mechanical issues, a vintage retro cool DC-8 took out this segment. What a wild cool adventure! ATL Was humongous to me being a wee lad of 9. And this was the 1961 version of the mighty Hotlanta Hartsfield International!
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Photo © John F. Ciesla


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Photo © John F. Ciesla


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Photo © John F. Ciesla


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Photo © John F. Ciesla


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Photo © John F. Ciesla


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Photo © John F. Ciesla


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Photo © Andrew Abshier


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Photo © Andrew Abshier


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Photo © AirNikon


This DC-8 had that hybrid prop 1950's cabin
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Photo © Michael Carter

This was my first exposure to those stubby jet bridges.

Back at MIA; I forgot to add that the airport had all these 1950's/1960's gizmo geegaws such as some kind of machine that analyzed your handwriting. It had a bleeping radar scope thing. And, where concourse D junctions with the main terminal was a "Mold-A-Rama" plastic machine. And I remember airport music in Spanish at MIA. More disjointed vintage airline memories to come  Smile/happy/getting dizzy P.S. here is a picture of MIA's original 1959 era departure level color scheme. This was the only image I could find. (for those wondering why I'd include a picture of a post bombing!)
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Photo © Allan Rossmore

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