Great Moments in Travel History – March 2014

Rollout of the Boeing Dash 80

By Jesse Sokolow on 1 March 2014
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The St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco opened on March 21, 1904.  Notable guests such as Theodore Roosevelt, Helen Keller, Woodrow Wilson, Charlie Chaplin, Ronald Reagan, and Queen Elizabeth II have all stayed at the California property.  In 1954, the hotel became a Westin property, and is still in operation today as the Westin St. Francis.

On March 10, 1910, William Boeing bought Heath’s Shipyard in Seattle, Washington.  The shipyard, located on the Duwamish River, would become Boeing’s first airplane factory.

Le Canard (the Duck), the first powered seaplane, made its debut flight at La Mède harbor in Martigues, France, on March 28, 1910.  Invented by Henri Fabre, the aircraft flew a distance of about 1,600 feet at a maximum altitude of 7 feet over the water.  The aircraft was described as resembling a giant dragonfly flying backward.

The Boeing Model 204 (B-1E), a four-seat civilian flying boat, made its first flight on March 4, 1928.  Only ten of the aircraft, the last airplanes Boeing built specifically for private ownership by civilians, were produced.

Eight passengers, including University of Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne, were killed on March 31, 1931, when TWA Flight 599 crashed near Bazaar, Kansas.

The first of the storied Pan American Airways Clippers, the Sikorsky S-42 flying boat, flew for the first time on March 30, 1934.  Considered the first American seaplane, it carried up to 32 passengers and could fly up to 1,200 miles at 190 miles per hour.

On March 18, 1939, the Boeing Model 307 Stratoliner prototype crashed, killing all 10 people on board.  The accident resulted in the formation of an expanded aerodynamic research group that placed more emphasis on pre-flight testing.

On March 20, 1940, Boeing delivered Pan American Airways’ first Model 307 Stratoliners.  The plane was the first commercial aircraft to have a pressurized cabin.

Philippine Airlines’ first flight took place on March 15, 1941.  The flight operated using a Beechcraft Model 18 NPC-54 aircraft.

On March 12, 1948, Northwest Airlines Flight 4422, which was returning to the U.S. from Shanghai, China, crashed into Mount Sanford in Alaska, killing all 30 onboard.

The Llandow Air Disaster occurred on March 12, 1950, when an Avro 689 Tudor V stalled and crashed upon landing at Llandow aerodrome in South Wales.  Eighty of the 83 people onboard died, making it the deadliest aviation disaster up to that time.

The Boeing Dash 80 flew from Seattle to Baltimore, Maryland at an average speed of 612 mph on March 11, 1957.  Only one of the aircraft was ever built.

On March 9, 1967, Trans World Airlines Flight 553 collided with a Beechcraft Baron in midair over Urbana, Ohio, killing everyone on board TWA’s DC-9.  The collision prompted substantial changes in air traffic control procedures.

Air Southwest  changed its name to Southwest Airlines on March 29, 1971.

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