An article about Cubana Airlines' "Tropicana Special" flight from Miami to Havana in Cabaret Magazine, 1957.
There was a time in Miami when the party wasn't in South Beach but in Havana. You certainly didn't have to wait until you landed in Cuba to get your drink on. The party started on the flight, with live music, a floor show and the appeal of the exotic when mojito wasn't a mainstream word on the U.S. mainland.
Things would change regarding flights to Cuba, of course, but Miami would continue to grow as a main airway hub for the Americas. Today, Miami International is the country's second largest airport by volume of international passengers.
Miami played an important role in aviation history as far back as 1911 when Miamians witnessed the first ever flight over its sunny skies. Future major Everest Sewell and aviator Howard Gill flew over golf courses on a Wright Brothers winged biplane, much to the amazement of those city dwellers who had never seen an aircraft. Over the decades, Miami would be home to aviation training and host to sky-bound celebrities.
The new exhibit at History Miami museum puts it all on display for you, chock full of interesting tidbits for Miami trivia fans.
Here are just a few that caught my eye:
- Burdine's flew gowns to Miami from New York on the first air mail route connecting both cities. (For you spring chickens out there, Burdine's was the original Miami department store, brought out by Macy's.)
- Amelia Earhart began one of her around-the-world flights in Miami so that Pan Am's mechanics, reputed to be some of the best in the world, could inspect her plane.
- The Pan-American Field had the first modern passenger terminal in the United States.
- Many female instructors took over Embry-Riddle's aviation classrooms during World War II.
- Charles Lindbergh flew several inaugural flights between Miami and Latin America.
Flying just isn't as pleasurable as it used to be, no matter what the destination. An exhibit panel on Mohamed Atta, the 9/11 terrorist who trained in a Florida flight school, offers a grim reminder.
Aviation in Miami: The First 100 Years is on display until July 22, 2012 and features lectures and films. The exhibit is free on Wine Down Wednesdays (first Wednesdays of most months). For more details, visit History Miami.