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|
|N893AF||DC-8-52||45619||the Lords Airline|
|HI-384HA||B707-124||17610||Hispaniola Airways – wfu|
|YV-129C||DC-8-53||45616||Viasa colours – wfu|
|N4809E||DC-8-55F||45762||Boereas Corp – Arrow Air colours|
|N163CA||DC-8-62||45955||IAL – ex JAL|
|YV-128C||DC-8-54||45861||IAL – ex Air Canada|
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.
|Bellomy Lawson Aviation|
|N45501||DC-6||45551||wfu – bare metal|
|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|
|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|
|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.
|N106DH||DC-6A||44668||ex DHL was converted to TAL spec|
|N105DH||DC-6A||43571||ex Pacific Air Transport|
|N117PM||DC-6||42866||ex Brokers Inc|
|N861TA||DC-6A||43522||Universal Air titles|
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|
|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|
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|
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.
|HC-BHS||CL-44D4||14||AECA Carga – wfu|
|N74175||DC-7CF||44883||ex Fleming wfu|
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|
|XC-UJA||B727||TP-01||Fuerza Aerea Mexicana (Air Service ramp)|
|N356Q||L-188AF||1039||TPI International Airways|
|N358Q||L-188AF||1047||TPI International Airways|
|N359Q||L-188CF||2002||TPI International Airways|
|XA-JIR||CV-440||495||Interstatel de Aviacion|
|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|