Miami’s Corrosion Corner

During the spring of March 1986 I travelled for the first time to Miami International Airport in search of old cargo planes and exotic freight operators which made the airport so famous amongst the European aviation enthusiast. As a bonus South Florida was an excellent place to spend a holiday, with its pleasant weather and white sandy beaches. Travelling on a tight budget I found some good and clean motels along the North side of Miami airport N.W. 36th Street. Famous among the aviation spotter was the Miami-Airways Motel, which had nice rooms including airco and TV for $ 29.00 dollars a night. Down the road was also the Viscount Motel with good room rates. Travelling back and fourth from the terminal I made use of the free airport courtesy busses. The other advantage of staying at the Miami Airways Motel its location was a walking to most of the major cargo ramps along the North-West 36th street. Although walking was a cheap way of travelling it was not always the most pleasant due to South Florida extremely hot and humid weather. If within the travelling budget it was best to hire a rental car, I preferred to use the Alamo rentals for its unlimited mileage concept.

Across from Miami Airways Motel were the CAM Air and Commodore Aviation facilities. During some of my earlier visits usually a couple of CAM Air Lockheed L-188s Electra’s freighters could be found. Either they were in line maintenance or lined up on the ramp awaiting cargo. Up the road at Curtis Parkway I turned left and walked to the Seckman Aviation Facility. Ramp access at the time was easily gained and before I knew it I stood face to face with a couple of PBA DC-3s and a YS-11.

Cam Air International Aviation
N402GN L-188CF 1085 Spirit of America
N405GN L-188CF 1094 CAM Air
N667E L-188CF 1131 CAM Air
N665F L-188AF 1100 CAM Air
N664F L-188AF 1066 wfu-no engines
N188CL B727-44 18893 CAM Air
N356QS B727-21F 19258 Emery
N570UA B727 Emery
N74KW C-53 7317 Pro Air
N14931 DC-3 2118 Pro Air

Commodore Aviation
N583U L-188CF 2006 Trans International
N893AF DC-8-52 45619 the Lords Airline
N144JC DC-10-40 46753 Progress Aviation
N727LA B727
N358QS B727-21F 19005 Emery
HI-384HA B707-124 17610 Hispaniola Airways – wfu
YV-129C DC-8-53 45616 Viasa colours – wfu
Rich International
N4809E DC-8-55F 45762 Boereas Corp – Arrow Air colours
N1807 DC-8-62CF 45904 Arrow
N163CA DC-8-62 45955 IAL – ex JAL
YV-128C DC-8-54 45861 IAL – ex Air Canada
N905AX DC-9-32CF 47147 Airborne Express
Seckman Aviation
N43PB DC-3 1953 PBA
N137PB DC-3 4128 PBA
N237PB YS-11A-205 2122 PBA
N45LC CV580 383
N442JM CV440 438
N49454 DC-3
N838M DC-3 20448
N52935 DC-3 20017
N258S M404 14232 Florida Airline

Along the Curtis Parkway, which was in-fact a one-way street, was one off Miami’s famous cargo operators named: Bellomy Lawson Aviation. (BL) which used a fleet of shabby looking Douglas DC-6s. I remember the BL ramps and platform where always covered with black oil.
All the maintenance and loading where done in the open and this created lots of photo opportunities. Bellomy Lawson was one of the oldest DC-6 operators at Miami and its history goes back along time, when the two founding fathers Harold Bellomy and Charles Lawson first met in 1962 at L.B. Smith, a Miami based fixed based operator.
Early on both men setup a company which was converting former military transports such as C-60 lodestars into executive configuration. A year later LB Smith went into liquidation and Bellomy and Lawson joined forces and started their own company at Miami Airport. The decided to developed their own FAA approved DC-6 freight conversion and simultaneously BL began cargo operations in the Caribbean and lower Florida. They also had scheduled charter rights to Turks & Caicos Islands, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
Bellomy Lawson was not a real airline company as such, but more a holding company on behalf of two major elements of the air transport business. The airline operations was named ‘Aerial Transit’ which was a FAA Part 121 carrier, formed in 1983 after BL sold off its former airline company ‘Challenge Air Transport’. At its peak BL operated nine DC-6s and a single Curtis C-46 and employed 80 people, including 24 pilots.

Bellomy Lawson Aviation
N45501 DC-6 45551 wfu – bare metal
N91BL DC-6BF 45319
N92BL DC-6BF 43825
N93BL DC-6BF 44109
N87BL DC-6A 44633
N94BL DC-6BF 43842
N98BL DC-6A 45227
N1304S DC-6BF 43739 Turks Air – on lease

The next interesting place to visit was the next turn off at the large dome like hanger of Pan Aviation. Usually a pair of old Boeing B707s would grace the large platform in front of the hanger. This dead end street housed some interesting freight companies one of them called Agro Air, a Dominican cargo operator used two Boeing C-97 Stratocruisers. Agro Air little cargo sheds was easily overlooked. The Agro people where a bit strange and where not happy with me, I was denied ramp access. I did get some shots of their new C-97 (N197KC) which was being converted into a freighter. Next door was de hanger of TAN Cargo with usually a Tan Sahsa Lockheed L-188 Electra on the ramp.

Argo Air + storage ramp
HI-468 C-97G 17026 Argo Air
HI-473 C-97G 17107 Argo Air
N197KC C-97 converted to freighter
HI-143 DC-8-33F 45387 ex Aeromar – wfu
HI-452 DC-8-51 45410 ex Delta – wfu
HI-372 B720-022 17915 ex Aeromar – wfu
HI-427 DC-8-54F 45684 ex Aeromar – wfu
N54FA DC-8-54F 45637 Barclay ABC – wfu
N4489M DC-8 wfu
N580JC DC-8-21 45594 ex JFC Enterprises - wfu

The next turn off along the NW 36th street housed one of Miami most legendary cargo operator Trans-Air-Link (TAL) using a fleet of Douglas DC-6s and a single Douglas DC-7C. Normally taking pictures was not a problem, but during one of my first visit’s I was denied ramp access, due to a ramp control incident, where a few bags of drugs where found behind the aft bulkhead of the DC-7C (N869TA). Nobody knew how long the drug where in the aircraft and to whom they belonged. TAL was founded by John and Gary Balnicki, father and son and owners of Florida Atlas Aircraft Corporation, a high class airframe & engine parts dealer. Issued with a FAA part 125 operation certificate on the 5th May 1981, TAL became the first all-cargo carrier in the southern region, which later turned into Part 91. TAL started flying with a former VASP DC-6A N779TA and offered a capacity of 30.000 pounds on the charter market in and around the Caribbean.
Early 1982 a second DC-6 (former Ladeco-Chili) N841TA was added.
TAL core business was contract work for other airlines and freight shippers. Its first regular contract was the ‘grocery run’, weekly service to Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands. In January 1983 TAL received its much needed Part 121 certificate, which enabled the company to operate as a regular supplemental carrier. That same year the old KAR-Air ‘swing-tail’ DC-6 N867TA joined the fleet. Two years later January 1985 a fourth DC-6 N870TA joined the growing TAL fleet for the much needed extra capacity. The freight business was thriving soon TAL DC-6s where being leased by other Miami based carriers, such as Universal airlines for regular or one-off charters. TAL next fleet addition was surprise, Gary Balnicki at the time TAL president, was concerned about the DC-6 somewhat limited capacity of 20.000 pounds for some of the prime routes. Late February 1985 TAL struck a deal to purchase the ex: Affretair DC-7C which became Trans Air-link Flagship N869TA. With 35.000 pounds she served TAL prime route to Jamaica Kingston.
May 1986 saw the arrival of the fifth DC-6 (ex DHL) N872TA entered service. During that year TAL introduced regular DC-6 service to San Juan and onwards to St Thomas and Sint Maarten Islands.

N106DH DC-6A 44668 ex DHL was converted to TAL spec
N105DH DC-6A 43571 ex Pacific Air Transport
N779TA DC-6A/C 45529
N117PM DC-6 42866 ex Brokers Inc
N869TA DC-7CF 45188
N861TA DC-6A 43522 Universal Air titles
N870TA DC-6A 45518
N53NA DC-3 27202/15757 Northern Airways
N47315 DC-3
N7001 PV1
N55CA DC-6BF 45328 FA Conner

The next turn off at NW 36th street provided some interesting cargo sheds and ramps from different Latin American freight operators. The first ramp housed some DC-6s from Dominica Air cargo and Vortex Inc. (N11VX), which was painted in a Douglas house colours and the name ‘Spirit of Douglas’ on its tail. Next to it was a not so smart looking DC-6 (YS-05C) from Aesa El Salvador which was in for a minor check.

Dominicana Air Cargo ramp
HI-292 C-118A 44594 Dominicana
N22VX C-118A 44615 Vortex Inc
N11VX DC-6A 44064 Vortex Inc – special Douglas colours
N90710 DC-6 42863 FA Conner – wfu – no props
N625CL C-46C 33254 Miami Air Lease
YS-05C DC-6BF 45537 AESA El Salvador
N440AD CV-440 447 Airways International
N30KE CV-440 364 Airways International

The last service road on NW 36th Street was the home of Southern Air Transport (SAT) and FA Conner Aviation. The SAT ramp where mostly filled with a fleet of white C-130s and B707s which normally could be photographed from the fence. At FA Conner I tried to get ramp access but was denied, taking pictures proved to be very difficult as the old DC-6 fleet was tightly parked. The only way for good pictures was from across at the Northwest Cargo centre.

F.A. Conner ramp
N705GB DC-3
N53CA DC-8-33F 45377 white c/s
N28CA DC-6BF 45321
N37577 DC-6BF 44901
N93123 DC-6BF 45178
N55CA DC-6BF 45328
N9000T DC-7C 45119 wfu
N3038C Beech 18

The last place along the NW 36th street was the famous Miami Corrosion Corner or sometimes referred to as Cockroach corner. Although during my visit (March 1986) the corner was in decline and many companies has left and/or gone bust, still it housed a few interesting cargo aircraft’s. On my first visit I saw an old DC-7 (N74175) resting next to a CL-44 (HC-BHS) clearly not going anywhere…their last day numbered! Corrosion Corner did have a little cargo shed, which carried a large sign with the name Transport-Aereo Dominicana SA. Several DC-6s, C-46s and Dc-3s littered the oil soaked ramp.

Corrosion Corner
N718UA DC-8-32 45384 ex IAL
N651TF B707-351B 18586 Air Separation
HC-BHS CL-44D4 14 AECA Carga – wfu
N74175 DC-7CF 44883 ex Fleming wfu
N2442H G-73 Mallard J13
HI-196 C-46A 261 stored
N2685W DC-3 33010 B Airways

In order to get a more complete picture of all the visiting prop’s and jets aircraft. I hereby reproduce my original log from between 05 up to 29 March (1986). Most aircraft were noted along the NW 36th street.

N102ME BAC1-11 at Butler ramp
CP-1698 B707 LAB
XC-UJA B727 TP-01 Fuerza Aerea Mexicana (Air Service ramp)
N711SW DC-9-15 Golden Nugget
HP-1024 L-188F TAM
HR-TNT L-188AF 1060 TAN Carga
N356Q L-188AF 1039 TPI International Airways
N358Q L-188AF 1047 TPI International Airways
N359Q L-188CF 2002 TPI International Airways
C-GTVU CV-580 173 Air Caledonia
XA-JIR CV-440 495 Interstatel de Aviacion
PP-VND A300 Varig
N251SF L-130 SAT
N521SF L-130 SAT
N690WA B727-173C 19504 Burlington Air
N4410F C-123 parked – camo c/s
N404DD M404 14132 George T Baker Aviation School
N9493 Beech 18 George T Baker Aviation School
N64274 T-36 George T Baker Aviation School
N6540C DC-6A 45368 George T Baker Aviation School
N64696 B720-022 18073 George T Baker Aviation School
N1880 L1049 located at fire dump