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  Early History Of Miami Air Traffic Control Tower

May 1941.. "Old Number One" was initially erected annually by the City of Miami to serve as the judge’s stand and timing tower for the "All American Air Maneuvers" held during the month of January. Due to a rapid increase in air traffic by 1941, the tower was left intact.

Because of the increase, the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) ordered than an airport traffic control tower be commissioned at the Miami Municipal Airport or National and Pan American Airlines would no longer be authorized to operate passenger flight into Miami Municipal. The control tower with only light guns available to control traffic was commissioned on May 1, 1941. Radios were installed by the following month. The CAA assumed operation of the control tower on January 1, 1946.
  tower 1941

February 1942.. Build by the City of Miami on what would become "Masters Field", then being constructed on a vast area bounded by the Seaboard Coastline Railway, NW 27th Avenue, NW 103rd Street and NW 119the Street.

The new airport was to have five runways, some as long as six thousand feet, with the passenger terminal on the east side of the airport connecting directly with the Pan American Seaplane Base at Dinner Key via 27th Avenue.

This structure was the first actually designed as a control tower, but, unfortunately, had a partial glass roof with no ventilation or air conditioning. The CAA staff occupied this facility in February 1942, and maintained it until it was turned over to the U.S. Navy as part of the Opa Locka Naval Complex in August 1942.


  August 1942.. In late 1941, through early 1942, Pan American World Airways, with funding by the Air Corps Airport Development Program, expanded the Pan American 36th Street Airport and constructed a control tower atop the passenger terminal. The Pan Am tower was commissioned June 1942, and staffed by the CAA on august 3, 1942.

The old airport was renamed Masters Field and turned over to the Navy. All commercial activities were moved to Pan Am’s 36th Street Airport and general aviation operations were sent to the Sunny South Airport.

The tower structure was later moved from atop the terminal and relocated to the Dinner Key Seaplane Base where it served the U.S. Coast Guard until the activity was relocated to the Opa Locka Airport.
  tower 4   October 1943.. This building was constructed by the U.S. Army Air Corps to serve the Miami Army AirField, located immediately south of the 36th Street Airport. Because of wartime shortages, the entire structure was build of wood.

This facility was occupied by the CAA staff on October 3, 1943, and utilized multiple telephone/radio frequencies. Between 1943 and 1948, the tower was damaged several times by hurricanes. This photo, taken in the spring of 1946, shows a completely refurbished tower after sever damage caused by the hurricane of September 1945

  October 1948.. The Dade County Port Authority broke ground for this facility in June 1947; however, construction progressed very slowly and the tower was not turned over to the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) until late 1948. The most unique feature of this tower is that it later became number 7, after it had to be moved due to construction to lengthen Runway 9L/27R. It was relocated to an area adjacent to the 20th Street Terminal, a building used largely by non-scheduled air carriers. Today that area is immediately off the end of Concourse "F".  



September 1952..
A unique facility that was constructed as a temporary facility to be used during the move of Tower Number 5 (in background) to new location. It was opened in September 1952. The photo shows a historic moment when Tower Number 6 cleared Tower Number 5 to cross an active runway. The temporary tower was in operation until December 1952, when operations were transferred back to "Old Number Five", now Tower Number 7. 
  tower7   December 1952.. "Old Tower Number Five" has now become Tower Number Seven. Old towers never die and when this facility was replaced by Tower Number Eight it was dismantled and stored along the southwest area of Perimeter Road.

At the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis it was reassembled at the "old" Tamiami Airport and used until the "new" Tamiami Airport became operational.  


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