Article Written by Brent Foster
MIAMI – Sinking a putt, there are few places globally whereupon doing so golfers can hear an ever-increasing rumble soon followed by an overflying Airbus A380-800. One such place is International Links Melreese Country Club, where golfers and aviation geeks (avgeeks) alike enjoy massive, open greenery along with an abundance of jet traffic steps away from Miami International Airport (MIA).
Miami International Airport, known as a global air traffic hub, never disappoints in terms of spotting offerings ranging from aging Convair CV-5800, and Short 360sreminiscent of the “corrosion corner” days to brand new Boeing 787 and Airbus A350.
Destinations ranging from Anchorage to Dallas and Istanbul to Barranquilla are just as diverse.
A Multitude of Photos
Personally, I have had the privilege of experiencing such an aviation melting pot over the past two years via my golf affinity and volunteering for the non-profit First Tee located at the course.
It is always amazing, whether swinging myself or mentoring kids on their swings, to look up and casually see a marvel of modern aviation overhead.
Over time, perhaps unsurprisingly, I have built up a multitude of photos capturing the vibrancy of air traffic at MIA.
Every day is different and while anyone can know which aircraft are arriving and departing on a flight radar app, one must account for the location of the course just east of the airport. Different winds make for different days of spotting.
If easterly winds are prevailing then one can expect to see a slew of departures rapidly overflying the course, while in the case of westerly winds the aircraft can be enjoyed in finer detail due to their slower speeds while landing.
Perhaps the best way to experience the course, accounting for all of the daily variations, is to simply play a round of golf, to experience all 18 holes.
Starting each round, it is wise to visit the driving range both for practice and a view of primarily American Airlines (AA) along with cargo departures out of runways 8R and 8L along with arrivals into 26L and 26R.
While necessitating a little craning of the neck one can also look to the south and catch a view of action out of runway 9-27.
One of my best sightings in fact came near the driving range when one morning I heard an extremely loud engine noise.
Expecting an older plane, I looked up at a massive, converted MD-10 freighter, commonly known as a “tri-holer” due to having three engines, of Transportes Aéreos Bolivianos (TAB Cargo) departing with haste to Santa Cruz, Bolivia
Beginning the course on holes 1 through 3 one can primarily view the same cargo and AA traffic as on the driving range. On weekday mornings it is not uncommon to see IFL Cargo Convair CV-5800 and IBC Airways (II) Saab 340 departing to destinations across the Caribbean and Central America.
One can even catch Boeing 747-400 of Sky Lease Cargo (GG), as I did once without a winglet! At MIA there are truly some aircraft that can hardly be seen elsewhere in the United States.
Continuing to holes 4 through 7 on a day with westerly winds one catch great views of arrivals into runway 27 ranging from Boeing 747-400s and A330s of airlines ranging from Avianca to China Airlines Cargo.
767s are unique not only due their airlines ranging from Aerounion to LATAM and Amerijet but their sheer multitude.
767s are not to be missed no matter when the course is played.
Continuing on to the back 9 assuming a continuance of westerly winds, domestic arrivals ranging from AA Boeing 737 to American Eagle E175 and Delta Air Lines (DL) Airbus A321 while more common, can be appreciated at close range.
On any day one can gather extraordinary views from runway 9-27.
On holes 14 through 16 I appreciate focusing on my game only to be surprised by a distant yet ever growing whine or rumble of a massive airliner whether it be an arriving Ethiopian Cargo Boeing 777F or a departing Cargolux Boeing 747-8F.
Finishing up on hole number 18 and walking to the parking lot one can conclude their round by seeing airliners, albeit slightly higher, making their southward turns as directed by Miami ATC into the Caribbean.
One cannot talk about the future of Melreese as both a great golf and aviation destination without considering the effects of COVID-19.
Before the pandemic air-traffic was bustling. Planes departed oftentimes with less than a minute of separation while now one can hit balls for an hour and only see 5 jets.
The pandemic also caused the unfortunate departure of the Airbus A380-800 of Air France (AF) and Lufthansa (LH), formally daily visitors.
I often enjoyed the distinct, massive Airbus-style rumble that only such a machine could produce departing runway 9.
American Airlines Boeing 757 along with DL MD-88 and MD-90 are also clearly absent from the golf course views while sisterships such as UPS 757 freighters and World Atlantic Airlines (WL) MD-83 can still be seen going strong.
With a decline in air traffic, Melreese itself has ironically become busier with more and more golfers coming to appreciate the green space amid the pandemic.
Considering that the course is on track to be developed into Miami Freedom Park, a massive development including retail and office space along with a massive stadium for Inter Miami CF, there is evermore the reason to enjoy it.
The pandemic may be slowing plans for the construction of Freedom Park but the course as a gem for both avgeeks and golfers alike must be enjoyed while it lasts.
Whether dining at the course’s Duffer’s Den restaurant with views of runway 9 departures or playing the full 18 holes and appreciating all of the aircraft on offer Melreese makes a perfect, convenient getaway for a Miami layover.
Featured Image: Miami International Airport. Photo Credit: DNA India