80 years ago this month – FDR takes first Presidential flight from Miami to Casablanca Conference to meet Churchill

This month marks the 80th Anniversary of President Franklin Roosevelt becoming the first US President to take a plane flight, flying overseas to the wartime Casablanca Conference with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. FDR flew from Miami’s Dinner Key Airport, which was then the world’s busiest international airport. This historic flight in January 1943 came weeks after the successful Operation Torch landings in North Africa under the direction of General Eisenhower. Below are some descriptive images and copy of the flight from an old Pan Am inflight magazine.

The flight left from Dinner Key, the first major international airport in the US- the airport is now Miami City Hall and immortalized in the 1936 Warner Brothers film starring Pat O’Brien and Humphrey Bogart, The China Clipper. The film is based around the Pacific route and the second big Pan American Airport which was at Alameda California (Oakland). The third major international airport, opened in 1939 at the Marine Air Terminal in Queens – what is now part of LaGuardia Airport.

“Pan Am Facilities at Dinner Key” by Source (WP:NFCC#4). Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia

We’ve chronicled the history of Pan American World Airways post 1970 in Florida previously at this site as well as reviewed Robert Gandt’s masterful story of the fall of Pan Am, Skygods: The Fall of Pan Am. We also taped a Florida History Podcast in our early days on this FDR flight( apologies for the audio quality, we’ve improved a LOT since then).

You can listen to the Florida History Podcast on Anchor (which hosts our show), SpotifyGoogleAppleRadio PublicBreakerOvercastCastro or Pocket Casts. Overcast, Castro, Spotify, Radio Public and Breaker have App Store apps for free which enable you to subscribe and listen on your iPhone if you do not use the Apple Podcast app. We release a new episode weekly.

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