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Wings Over Miami Air Museum — a gem hidden within the Kendall-Tamiami Executive Airport

18 November 2009

Wings Over Miami Air Museum

25º 39’ 00” N / 80º 26’ 00” W

In Miami’s metro area, if you make your way to the end of the road that leads through the Kendall–Tamiami Executive Airport you will happen upon a small, dynamic and fascinating aviation collection — the Wings Over Miami  Air Museum. The aircraft number about a dozen, or so, but the actual population fluctuates. There are permanent airplanes, there are aircraft under restoration and there are aircraft in the hanger on the occasional temporary basis.

Wings Over Miami Air Museum hanger view — photo by Joe May

Wings Over Miami Air Museum hangar view — photo by Joe May

There are no decrepit exhibits and all the aircraft are in pristine condition. Amazingly so, I think, given the few members in the cadre. Equally amazing is that almost each time I visit, this quiet and out of the way museum, inevitably aircraft have been respotted due to the ever on-going work. Aircraft are flown in for the work and for special handling the musem can provide. One case, a recent one, of special handling was the disassembly for shipment of a Stearman Kaydet. There it was – wings and tail resting on the hanger floor, the landing gear set aside and an engine hoist chain slung around the power plant. Experts at work — and in Florida’s subtropical August heat! Thankfully, the office is air conditioned and well equipped with restroom facilities. There is a drink dispensing machine just outside the main door and a café is not really necessary since a plentitude of eateries can be found just outside the entrance of the airport. A modest entry fee is asked for a day’s admission.

Some exhibits have come and gone. The wings and empennage of the WW II Kawasaki 川崎市 Ki-61 飛燕 (Hien, roughly flying swallow, Allied codename Tony) that once were on display have gone back to their owner, as did the TBM Avenger that had been taken down to bare metal.

Some aircraft are there for safekeeping – a Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina and a Douglas DC-3, are examples. Another aircraft — a Douglas B-26 Invader — was freshened up and moved about 1000 feet (~300m) to a newly built memorial to the Cuban and American pilots who perished during the Bay of Pigs Invasion — or La Batalla de Girón as it is known in Cuba. [Please see the post, A new monument to fliers – the aviators of the Bay of Pigs Invasion & the Douglas B-26 Invader, published on 21 October 2009.]

Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina -- photo by Joe May

Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina — photo by Joe May

A Grumman F-14 Tomcat is the largest aircraft displayed as is one of the most beautiful North American SNJ-6 (also known as the AT-6 Texan when flown by the USAAF) I have seen. On my last visit not one, but two, other Texans were undergoing complete rebuilds for flying — zero time wings and engines — serious and professional work.

North American SNJ -- photo by Joe May

North American SNJ — photo by Joe May

North American SNJ nose art -- photo by Joe May

North American SNJ nose art — photo by Joe May

Adding to the remarkable accomplishments of this small museum are the foreign made aircraft on exhibit. They are: a Nanchang CJ-6A from the People’s Republic of China, an Aero L-29 Delfín from the former Czechoslovakia, and a Yakovlev Yak-52 from the former USSR.

Nanchang CJ-6A -- photo by Joe May

Nanchang CJ-6A — photo by Joe May

Nanchang CJ-6A fuselage art detail -- photo by Joe May

Nanchang CJ-6A fuselage art detail — photo by Joe May

This museum is not to be missed and is worth the detour for any aviation enthusiast or historian visiting the Miami metro area. The main entrance to the Kendall–Tamiami Executive Airport is located on SW 137th Avenue between SW 120th Street and SW 152nd Street in Miami Florida USA. Flying to the airport is possible in private aircraft but regular airlines can be used to fly into the Miami International Airport or the Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport.

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