Great Moments in Travel History – December 2014

By Jesse Sokolow on 1 December 2014
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The Château Frontenac Hotel in Quebec City, Canada opened its doors on December 20, 1893.  Named for the governor of the New France colony in America in the 17th century, the luxury, castle-like hotel has grown from 170 rooms to its current 613 rooms.

The Wright Brothers made the first controlled, powered, heavier-than-air human flight on December 17, 1903, in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

The Palace Hotel, which survived the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, only to be consumed by the fires in the quake’s aftermath, reopened its doors on December 19, 1909.  It is currently a Starwood Luxury Collection property.

The Boeing Airplane Co. B-1 mail plane, the first Boeing-designed commercial aircraft, made its first flight on December 27, 1919.

The Drake Hotel in Chicago opened its doors on December 31, 1920.  The luxury hotel is a longtime rival of the historic Palmer House hotel in Chicago.

The attack on Pearl Harbor by the Empire of Japan occurred on December 7, 1941, bringing the United States into World War II.

On December 7, 1946, the deadliest hotel fire in United States history occurred at the Winecoff Hotel, now known as the Ellis Hotel, in Atlanta, Georgia.  One hundred and nineteen people perished in the blaze.

The Park Slope Plane Crash occurred on December 16, 1960, when United Airlines Flight 826 collided with Trans World Airlines Flight 266 over New York City. All 128 passengers onboard the flights, as well as six people on the ground, lost their lives. The incident became the first time in history that a black box was used to provide details in a plane crash investigation.

John F. Kennedy International Airport, originally dedicated as New York International Airport and later known as Idlewild Airport, was renamed on December 24, 1963, a month after President Kennedy’s assassination.

Eastern Air Lines Flight 401, a Lockheed L-1011-1 Tristar jet, crashed in the Florida Everglades on December 29, 1972. One hundred and one people died in what was the first wide-body aircraft crash.

On December 29, 1963, twenty-two people died in what was the highest one-day death toll in Jacksonville, Florida, history.  One of two luxury hotels in the downtown area, the Hotel Roosevelt, went up in flames after faulty wiring ignited the hotel’s ballroom ceiling, which had previously been deemed a fire hazard.

Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon, launched on December 21, 1968, from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

After a dispute with hotel management over medical care and salaries, three disgruntled employees set a fire in the Hotel Dupont Plaza in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on December 31, 1986.  It was the worst hotel fire in Puerto Rican history, with 97 people losing their lives in the New Year’s Eve blaze.  The hotel is now the San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino.

While flying over Lockerbie, Scotland, Pan Am Flight 103 was destroyed by a terrorist bomb on December 21, 1988.  All 243 passengers and 16 crewmembers, as well as 11 people on the ground, were killed.

Trans World Airlines agreed to sell its six routes between the United States and London to American Airlines for $445 million on December 16, 1990.

After spending most of the year trying to emerge from bankruptcy court, Pan Am ceased operations on December 4, 1991, after Delta Air Lines withdrew a funding commitment it had made as part of the purchase of Pan Am’s routes earlier in the year.

On December 16, 2003, Boeing’s board of directors gave the go-ahead for the company to begin offering for sale the 7E7 Dreamliner, now known as the 787 Dreamliner.

Click here to continue to Page 2Future of Flight Aviation Center, Europe’s Largest Hotel, and the Dreamliner’s First Flight

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