Great Moments in Travel History – February 2013

By Jesse Sokolow on 1 February 2013
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Grand Central Terminal in New York City at night

Grand Central Terminal in New York City at night

Grand Central Terminal, the world’s largest train station based on the number of platforms, opened on February 2, 1913.  It replaced Grand Central Station although, one hundred years later, people still call the new station by that name.  It is one of the world’s most popular tourist attractions, with over 21 million visitors per year, and features numerous restaurants, food shops, and retail stores.

The aptly-named Cloudster, the first wholly Douglas-designed, Douglas-built aircraft, made its first flight on February 24, 1921.  It was the first aircraft to lift a useful load greater than its own weight.

On February 22, 1925, Geoffrey de Havilland took off from London in a D.H.60 Moth fabricated by the de Havilland Aircraft Company.  Constructed of wood with fabric-covered surfaces, the two-seat tour and training plane marked the start of a new age in light aviation.

The Boeing Airplane and Transport Corporation changed its name to United Aircraft and Transportation on February 1, 1929.  By the end of the year, it had expanded its operations to include Chance Vought, Hamilton Metalplane Division, Boeing Aircraft of Canada, Stout Airlines, Northrop Aircraft , Stearman Aircraft Co., Sikorsky Aviation, Standard Steel Propeller, and Pratt & Whitney Aircraft.

On February 14, 1934, Howard R. Hughes launched the Hughes Tool Co. aircraft division, which would later evolve into Hughes Helicopters.

The Douglas DC-1 made a record breaking coast-to-coast flight on February 19, 1934, from Los Angeles to Newark, N.J., in 13 hours and 4 minutes.

The Douglas DC-5 made its first flight on February 20, 1939.  Only 12 of the aircraft were ever built: five as commercial DC-5 transports, and seven as R3D military transports.

The luxurious Boeing Stratoliners were stripped of their civilian finery and pressed into military service as C-75s on February 26, 1942.  The aircrafts’ first flights carried antitank ammunition and medical supplies to British forces stationed in Libya.

The Civil Aviation Authority authorized the use of ground control approach landing aids on February 4, 1949.  The systems used radar to help air traffic controllers direct pilots while landing in low visibility or bad weather conditions.

On February 8, 1949, the Boeing B-47 jet bomber set a transcontinental speed record, covering 2,289 miles in 3 hours and 46 minutes, at an average speed of 607.8 mph.

On February 12, 1955, a fire broke out at the Barton Hotel in Chicago.  The fire gutted the five-story, 336-room hotel and killed 29 people.

The Douglas DC-9 twinjet airliner, designed for short and frequent flights, made its first flight on February 25, 1965.  The aircraft preceded the introduction of the MD-80 series in 1980.

British aviation pioneer Freddie Laker founded Laker Airways on February 10, 1966, as a charter airline.

On February 9, 1969, the Boeing 747-100 made its first flight.  A total of 167 of the aircraft were manufactured.

The FAA issued a rule requiring airlines to screen passengers prior to boarding on February 1, 1972,

Donald W. Douglas, founder of the Douglas Aircraft Company, died on February 1, 1981.

On February 5, 1982, Laker Airways made its final flight and went bankrupt with debts of £270 million.

Click here to continue to Page 2Boeing Worldliners, 757 and MD-90 First Flights, 737 Milestones, Ritz-Carltons, and Biofuel

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