This Week In Business Travel History – 15 April 2012
In 1524, the explorer Giovanni Verrazano discovered New York Harbor on a mission to find a passage to China. Verrazano’s legacy can be driven over everyday, as a suspension bridge (pictured), once the world’s longest, between Staten Island and Brooklyn was named after him.
The city of San Francisco was officially incorporated in 1850. Fifty-seven years later, in 1907, the first ever Fairmont Hotel opened in the city. A year before opening, the hotel was hit by the 1906 great San Francisco earthquake that damaged the interior and delayed the opening. Today the hotel is is one of the leading properties in the city and the Fairmont chain operates hotels in 18 countries..
In 1877, the first home telephone was installed, and connected Charles Williams’ shop in Boston and his home in Somerville, Massachusetts.
Arguably the most famous incident in travel history, the RMS Titanic sank at 2:27 a.m. on April 15, 1912. The ship sank off the coast of Newfoundland after hitting an iceberg, and the tragedy went on to become the subject of one of the most famous films of all time (now in theaters in 3D).
In 1912, Harriet Quimby, the first female American pilot, completed a solo flight across the English Channel (from Dover to Calais, France). Quimby was the first woman to fly across the English Channel, but she tragically died only months later, at the age of 37.
William E. Boeing’s Pacific Aero Products Company was renamed the Boeing Airplane Company in 1917. The company would go on to be renamed again, and is known today as Boeing, having become one of the largest aircraft manufacturers in the world .
In 1926, Western Air Express began operations with flights between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. The company later changed its name to Western Airlines, and continued flying until 1987 when it merged with Delta.
In 1928 the Australian explorer Hubert Wilkins and his American pilot Carl Ben Eielson arrived in Spitzbergen, Norway after making the first ever crossing of the Arctic by airplane. They left for their journey from Point Barrow, Alaska, on April 15th in a Lockheed Vega.
Legendary aviator Howard Hughes and TWA president Jack Frye flew a Lockheed Constellation from Burbank to Washington, D.C., in 1944, setting a transcontinental speed record of 6 hours 57 minutes.
In 1945, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), an inter-airline organization, was formed to set rates and ensure cooperation on safety procedures. IATA still functions today, representing 240 airlines that comprise 84% of all scheduled international air traffic. Although it no longer concerns itself with setting fares, it still sets rules for airlines to operate safely and securely and it also helps the industry allocate slots at airports across the globe and facilitates interline travel through the use of standardized ticketing.
The biggest jet airliner ever built, the experimental Convair YB-60, made its successful first flight at Carswell Air Force Base at Fort Worth, Texas in 1952. The U.S. Air Force went on to cancel the project only four months later.
Finally, in 1973, Federal Express (now known as FedEx) began operations with a fleet of 14 Dassault Falcon 20 jets. The planes carried packages from 25 cities to the company’s Memphis hub for nightly sorting and subsequent distribution across the country. FedEx has continued to sort packages every night since then, and the company’s fleet has grown to over 700 aircraft that fly to nearly 325 destinations.
(Photo: Jonathan Snyder)