Great Moments in Travel History – January 2014

By Jesse Sokolow on 1 January 2014
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Biltmore Hotel, Coral Gables, Florida

Christopher Columbus concluded one of the first transatlantic business trips on January 15, 1493, when he began his return trip to Spain, after crossing the Atlantic westward in 1492.

On January 7, 1785, the English Channel was traversed by air for the first time, when Jean-Pierre Blanchard and John Jeffries flew across the Channel from Dover, England, to a forest near Calais, France, in their hydrogen filled balloon.

The Fairmont Hamilton Princess hotel opened on January 1, 1885, in Hamilton, Bermuda.  It is one of the largest hotels in Bermuda, with over 400 rooms, and is also the oldest hotel in the Fairmont chain.

On January 1, 1888, the Casa Monica hotel opened in St. Augustine, Florida.  The hotel is one of the oldest in the U.S., and is part of the Historic Hotels of America National Trust.

The National Geographic Society was founded by a group that included explorers, geographers, cartographers, teachers, and scientists on January 27, 1888.  It was organized as “a society for the increase and diffusion of geographical knowledge.”

Wilbur Wright met with U.S. Representative. Robert M. Nevin on January 3, 1905, in an effort to get the U.S. government interested in the use of airplanes for the military. The army later declined the proposal, even though the congressman submitted and endorsed a letter from Wright to President William Howard Taft and the secretary of war.

On January 20, 1908, what is now the Fairmont Empress opened in Victoria, British Columbia.  The property has been designated a National Historic Site of Canada and was last renovated in 1989.

The first scheduled commercial airline flight took place on January 1, 1914, when  pilot Tony Jannus flew the former mayor of St. Petersburg in a Benoist XIV biplane over Tampa Bay for the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line.  The flight lasted 23 minutes, cruising 50 feet (15 meters) above the waters of the bay.

The Biltmore Hotel opened its doors on January 14, 1926, in Coral Gables, Florida.  When it was completed, it was the tallest building in Florida, and at one time had the world’s largest pool.

American Airlines was founded on January 25, 1930, as American Airways.

Amelia Earhart became the first woman pilot to fly solo between Hawaii and the United States on January 11, 1935, when she flew her Lockheed Vega from Wheeler Field in Honolulu across the eastern Pacific to Oakland, California, in 18 hours and 15 minutes.

Howard Hughes broke his own transcontinental speed record in the H-1 Racer on January 19, 1937, flying from Los Angeles to Newark in 7 hours 28 minutes.  As a business magnate, investor, aviator, aerospace engineer, filmmaker, and philanthropist, Hughes was one of the wealthiest people in the world in his time.  He grew Trans World Airlines into a major carrier, and later bought the airline Air West renaming it Hughes Airwest.

The Civil Aeronautics Authority certified the Boeing Model 314 Clipper to be used for commercial service by Pan American Airways on January 26, 1939.  The aircraft made its first trans-Atlantic flight on June 28, 1939.

TWA Flight 3 crashed on January 16, 1942, about 30 miles west of Las Vegas.  All 22 on board perished, including actress Carole Lombard, considered to be one of the American Film Institute’s greatest stars of all time, and her mother.

On January 30, 1948, aviation pioneer Orville Wright died at the age of 76 after a second heart attack.

The BSAA Star Tiger, an Avro Tudor IV passenger aircraft, disappeared without a trace over the Atlantic Ocean on January 30, 1948.  The disappearance remains unsolved to this day, and helped lead to and develop the speculation and theories of the Bermuda Triangle legend.

Click here to continue to Page 2First Flight of 747 and MD-11, Eastern Shuts Down, and the Miracle on the Hudson

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