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The first generation of jet aircraft & airlines

Pan Am Boeing 707 at Miami International Airport


The year of 1958 was very exciting for air travel, as the world awaited the jet age. There had already been a false start in 1952 when the British Comet 1 jetliner proved to have fatal aerodynamic flaws and was withdrawn from service. On October 4, 1958 the redesigned Comet 4 flew for B.O.A.C. (below) from London to New York, establishing the first commercial transatlantic service by jet aircraft.

Not to be outdone, on October 28, 1958, Pan American World Airways introduced the Boeing 707 (above) from New York to Paris. As the public heard about the speed, comfort and prestige of jet travel the major airlines placed massive orders for the first generation of jets.

Florida eagerly anticipated the new era, planning for another boom in tourism, and it didn't have to wait long. On December 10, 1958, the first domestic jet service in the U.S.A. was inaugurated when National Airlines chartered two of Pan Am's Boeing 707's to fly the New York to Miami route for the winter season.

Miami International Airport terminal in 1959

Dade County built the biggest airport terminal in the world (above) in Miami, which opened on February 1, 1959.

Broward County Airport in 1959

A new airport for Broward County (above), serving Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood, also opened in 1959. Other airport terminals in Florida were either built or redesigned for the jets.

Tampa International Airport in 1952

Tampa's West Shore terminal (above) opened in 1952, supplemented by a new runway and other improvments which were completed by 1963 for the jets. The St. Petersburg/Clearwater airport terminal opened in 1957 and was adequate to handle limited jet service.

In Orlando, an agreement with the military in October, 1961 allowed jetliners to land at McCoy Air Force base. At West Palm Beach and Jacksonville, jets used the older facilities dating from the 1930s and 1940s until new terminals opened in 1966 and 1968, respectively.