Great Moments in Travel History – May 2015

San Francisco International Airport

By Jesse Sokolow on 1 May 2015
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On May 16, 1863, the Excelsior Hotel Ernst opened its doors to its first guest in Cologne, Germany.  The hotel celebrated its 150th anniversary last year.

The Chicago World’s Fair opened on May 1, 1893.  The fair transformed the landscape of the Midwestern city and introduced the Ferris Wheel to the world.

The Palace Hotel Luzern in Luzern, Switzerland, opened its doors on May 7, 1906.  The hotel, which featured amenities rare at the time of its opening, such as en-suite bathrooms, is still in operation today.

Wilbur Wright died from typhoid fever at age 45 on May 30, 1912.  His brother Orville lived to be 76, passing away on January 30, 1948.

The Regent Palace Hotel opened on May 16, 1915 in London, England.  With 1,028 guestrooms, the hotel offered the largest number of rooms of any such establishment in Europe at the time of its opening.  It was demolished in 2010.

On May 9, 1917, William Boeing changed the name of Pacific Aero Products to the Boeing Airplane Co.

Bader Field in Atlantic City, New Jersey became the first municipal airport in the U.S. on May 3, 1918.

San Francisco International Airport (originally called Mills Field Municipal Airport) opened on May 7, 1927.

Charles Lindberg completed the first solo transatlantic flight on May 21, 1927 in his Ryan monoplane Spirit of St. Louis. He flew from Roosevelt Field in New York to Le Bourget Field in Paris, France, a distance of nearly 3,600 miles (5,800 kilometers), in 33 hours and 29 minutes, effectively making him the first person in history to be in New York one day and Paris the next.

Ellen Church, a registered nurse, joined the crew of Boeing Air Transport’s Model 80A headed to San Francisco on May 15, 1930.  She was the first female flight attendant in history. Boeing Air Transport eventually became United Airlines.

The Hindenburg disaster took place on May 6, 1937. Thirty-six people died when the German airship LZ 129 Hindenburg attempted to dock at the Naval Air Station Lakehurst in Manchester Township, New Jersey.

On May 7, 1945, Nazi Germany surrendered, effectively ending the Second World War.

Eastern Air Lines Flight 605 crashed on May 30, 1947, en route from Newark, New Jersey to Miami, Florida.  At the time, it was the deadliest aviation disaster in United States history with all 53 passengers and crew onboard the plane perishing in the crash.

On May 4, 1949, a plane carrying many players on Italy’s Torino A.C. football (soccer) team crashed near Turin, Italy.  All 31 passengers, including 18 team members, were killed in what became known as the Superga air disaster.

A Douglas DC-7C took off from Long Beach Municipal Airport in California on May 21, 1957, for a record trans-continental and trans-Atlantic flight that retraced part of the route flown by Charles Lindbergh in 1927.  The aircraft flew 6,148 miles (9,894 kilometers) to Paris in 21 hours and 52 minutes, 12 hours less than it took Lindbergh to fly nearly 3,600 miles (5,800 kilometers) across the Atlantic.

On May 30, 1958, the Douglas DC-8 made its maiden flight.  The aircraft was the first of the DC line to be equipped with jet engines.  The four-engine jet set world records in speed, altitude, distance, and payload.

Pakistan International Airlines Flight 705 crashed on May 20, 1965, while attempting to land at Cairo International Airport in Egypt.  Although six passengers were thrown clear of the wreckage, the remaining 121 souls onboard the Boeing 720 died in the crash, making it the deadliest incident involving a 720 aircraft.

At the Paris Air Show on May 29, 1969, French transport minister Jean Chamant signed an agreement with German economics minister Karl Schiller, officially launching the Airbus A300, the world’s first twin-engine widebody passenger jet.

On May 5, 1972, Alitalia Flight 112 crashed on approach to Palermo, Italy. All 115 on board died in the incident, making it the deadliest single-aircraft disaster in Italian history.

American Airlines Flight 191 crashed near Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on May 25, 1979.  All 271 passengers and crew were killed, as well as two people on the ground.  Prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks, the crash was the deadliest commercial aircraft incident in United States history.

American Airlines launched its loyalty program, AAdvantage, on May 1, 1981. AAdvantage was the second airline loyalty program in the world, after Texas International Airlines’ program.

Click here to continue to Page 2Train Disaster, Star Alliance, and the First 787 Dreamliner

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