There was another Miami, before all of the rented Ferraris, neon lights and dirty money. That Miami is still out there, and if you dig deep enough, you can uncover it. But lay down that shovel, we’ve done the digging for you.
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It started with a found object: an old matchbook from U.S. Naval Air Station Miami with the defunct logo of a boxing alligator in a bomb. The cartoon bomb is positioned at a downward angle, moments from destroying its target. Inside the bomb, a golden gator baring its teeth has taken a fighting stance with his dukes up. The gator serves to symbolize the bomb’s origins: deep in the Florida wetlands, at NAS Miami. The fighting spirit of this particular gator symbolizes that which our enemies might expect to face in battle. In a day when we’re under attack by political correctness to the point where even our mascots have been sanitized, we need the Boxing Gator in Bomb more than ever.
WWII—Era NAS Miami ephemera from our collection
In the 1920s, south Florida was still wide open and the land was cheap. Recognizing the opportunity, aviation pioneer and land baron, Glenn Curtiss, founded the City of Opa Locka and, with it, the airfield that would become NAS Miami. Even before the Navy set up shop, the airfield had already made its mark on history. During the airfield's early days, it was home to the Goodyear Blimp and was also the last bit of mainland USA soil Amelia Earhart touched before setting off on her attempt to circumnavigate the globe. Over time, the Opa Locka airfield grew to become a valuable military asset. It served as one of the largest training centers for naval flight crews in preparation for WWII. There's a lot to commemorate NAS Miami for, not the least of which is how a small southern airstrip grew to be a crucial asset for the American war effort.
North American SNJ Texans & Douglas TBD Devastators on the flight line at NAS MIAMI
The grounds that served as NAS Miami, now serve Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport. Part of the airport still houses the Coast Guard Air Station Miami, which is the only military portion of the facility. Today, a visit to Opa-Locka will reward the visitor with a glimpse into aviation and Miami history, while offering all the pleasures of an operating airport.
Recently returned from the war zone, Lieutenant Walter A. Haas, USNR instructs students from the cockpit of a Brewster F2A Buffalo at Naval Air Station Miami, April 9, 1943.
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