Great Moments in Travel History – August 2012

By Paul Riegler on 1 August 2012
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Pan Am 707 at the Pan Am Worldport, JFK, 1961

Pan Am 707 at the Pan Am Worldport, JFK, 1961

On August 7, 1807, American inventor Robert Fulton’s steamboat Clermont  made its first run from Albany to New York City in 32 hours, traveling at an average five miles per hour (eight kilometers per hour).

On August 16, 1858, after several failed attempts at laying a cable on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, Queen Victoria and President Buchanan exchanged congratulatory cable messages. While the cable only lasted a month it proved that transatlantic communication was possible.

The U.S. military made its first move towards airborne warfare with the purchase of its first airplane, the Wright Flyer, on August 2, 1909.  The purchase price of $30,000 included a $5,000 bonus because the airplane exceeded the Army’s speed requirement of 40 miles per hour (64 km/h).

On August 23, 1909, Glenn Hammond Curtiss achieved an absolute speed record at the world’s first air meet, the Grande Semaine d’Aviation in Reims, France, by flying his Reims Racer biplane 43.385 miles per hour (69.82 km/h).  Roughly one year later, on August 31, 1910, Curtiss established a record for the longest flight over water by flying from Euclid Beach in Cleveland, Ohio to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio.  The trip over Lake Erie took one hour and fifteen minutes.

Starting on August 8, 1929, the Graf Zeppelin made a historic around-the-world flight.  The trip, which ended on August 29, covered 21,500 miles (33,796 kilometers) in five legs.  On board were 60 men and one woman.

The Second World War came to an end on August 15, 1945.  Not surprisingly, the U.S. government cancelled its orders for bombers, which resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs in the aviation industry.

On August 11, 1947, Douglas Aircraft delivered the last Douglas Skymaster, DC-4 number 1,242, to South African Airways.

Japan Air Lines was founded on August 1, 1951 and began operations in October of that year.  It became the national airline of Japan in 1953.  It was privatized in 1987, filed for bankruptcy protection in 2010, and emerged from bankruptcy protection in March 2011.

Pan American World Airways took delivery of the country’s first commercial jet airliner, a Boeing 707-120, on August 15, 1958.  Boeing delivered the aircraft four months ahead of schedule and the 707 went into service in October on a trans-Atlantic route.

Click here to continue to Page 2Douglas DC-10, Boeing 757, Air Force One, Boeing 737-900ER, and Boeing Dreamlifter

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