Great Moments in Travel History – April 2014

Lobby of the Fairmont in San Francisco

By Jesse Sokolow on 1 April 2014
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On April 3, 1888, the Hotel Brighton in Brooklyn, New York, was transported away from its beachfront location.  The 3-story property had been located on a beach that was continuously eroding, so much so that waves eventually lapped at the hotel’s doors. The property was loaded onto 112 railroad cars and towed 600 feet inland.  The opening of the BMT Brighton subway line led to the closure of the hotel in 1924, as people visiting the beachside community of Brighton Beach from the city could now easily return home rather than stay overnight.

The Fairmont Hotel San Francisco was ready to open, when on April 18, 1906, the city suffered a devastating earthquake.  Fires from the quake consumed much of the property, and the hotel had to be restored before reopening exactly one year later.  The property is still in operation today, and is a member of the Historic Hotels of America.

On April 24, 1909, Wilbur Wright brought a photojournalist on a flight near Rome, Italy, during which the first motion pictures ever shot in-flight aboard an airplane were filmed.

The Saint Paul Hotel, dubbed “St. Paul’s Million-Dollar Hotel,” opened on April 18, 1910, in St. Paul, Minnesota.  The hotel is still in operation today, and over the years, it has hosted such notable guests as James J. Hill (the builder of the Great Northern Railway), Charles Lindberg, Gene Autry, and John F. Kennedy.

On April 16, 1912, American pilot Harriet Quimby became the first woman to cross the English Channel by air when she flew from Dover, England to Pas-de-Calais, France.

The Loughead brothers flew their F-1 seaplane from Santa Barbara, California to San Diego on April 12, 1918.  The brothers would later go on to found Lockheed.

On April 7, 1922, the first mid-air collision of airliners in history occurred near Picardie, France.  A Havilland DH. 18A, operated by Daimler Hire Ltd, collided with a Farman F.60 Goliath, operated by Compagnie des Grandes Express Aériens, resulting in the death of all seven passengers aboard each aircraft.

On April 6, 1924, four Douglas World Cruisers (named Boston, Chicago, New Orleans, and Seattle) began the first successful flight around the world, departing from Sand Point near Seattle, Washington. The Seattle crashed in Alaska on April 30, and the Boston was irreparably damaged in the Atlantic Ocean, but the New Orleans and Chicago completed the journey, arriving back in Seattle on September 28, 1924.

Henry Ford started the first commercial flights to operate on a regular schedule on April 13, 1925, transporting airmail between Detroit and Chicago. Earlier that year, he formed the Ford Air Transport Service and was awarded the Chicago-Detroit and Cleveland-Detroit airmail routes.

Varney Air Lines (later Continental Airlines) launched operations as an air mail carrier in the U.S. on April 6, 1926.

On April 12, 1928, Hermann Köhl, Gunther von Hunefeld, and James Fitzmaurice successfully completed the first non-stop flight across the Atlantic from East to West in a Junkers W33.  The trio flew from Baldonnel, Ireland to Greenly Island, Canada, in approximately 36 hours.

On April 4, 1947, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) was officially founded in Montreal.  The organization was formed to monitor the ideas and techniques of air navigation and transport.

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