Great Moments in Travel History – March 2015

By Jesse Sokolow on 1 March 2015
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The St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco opened on March 21, 1904.  Notable individuals including Theodore Roosevelt, Helen Keller, Woodrow Wilson, Charlie Chaplin, Ronald Reagan, and Queen Elizabeth II have all stayed at the California property, which is 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.  Built by Henri Fabre, the aircraft flew a distance of about 1,600 feet (487 meters) at a maximum altitude of 7 feet (2 meters) over the water.

Swissair was formed on March 26, 1931, by the merger of Ad Astro Aero and Balair.  Its successor, Swiss International Air Lines, was founded on April 1, 2002.

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 Stratoliner.  The plane was the first commercial aircraft to have a pressurized cabin.

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.

On March 16, 1969, Viasa Flight 742 crashed on takeoff from Maracaibo, Venezuela.  One hundred and fifty five people, including all 84 passengers and 71 people on the ground, perished in the accident, which was the deadliest air disaster at the time.

American Airlines, on March 30, 1973, became the first major airline to employ a female pilot.  The woman, Bonnie Tiburzi, was hired by the carrier to fly Boeing 727s.

A Japan Air Lines (now Japan Airlines) Boeing 747 made the first non-stop flight between Tokyo and New York on March 17, 1976.  The journey took about eleven and a half hours to complete.

Click here to continue to Page 2Tenerif, Blizzard of ’93, the Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental, and Dreamliner Batteries

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