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Aviation in Miami: The First 100 Years

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  SECURITY - Protection in the Skies

Miami was home to numerous defensive air sites and supply stations for the armed forces during World War II. Prior to the U.S. entrance into the war, the Navy purchased land and constructed a Naval Air Station in Opa-locka, complete with barracks, training runways and support buildings. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, they also acquired Miami Masters Field and in South Dade built Richmond Naval Air Station for observation blimps. Blimps were used to track Nazi submarines in the Caribbean and off the waters of South Florida.

Air DepotPan Am airplane and military personnel at MIAD ready to transport cargo in support of the North African campaign. June 5, 1943. Photo by Robert Yarnall Richie. Miami News Collection, HistoryMiami. 1989-011-10082.

The U.S. Army also established an air station and training camp on a site south of the 36th Street Airport. On the west side of this site, the Miami International Air Depot, a complex of warehouses with railroad sidings, shops and ancillary buildings completed in 1943, was put to use supplying the North African campaign. Miami’s three main air carriers, Eastern, Pan American and National Airlines also put their fleets, pilots, mechanics and staff at the disposal of the U.S. war effort by providing priority transport of military personnel, mail and critical supplies.

Richmond Field
Richmond Field. 1945. HistoryMiami. 1982-141-31.

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