Great Moments in Travel History – October 2015

By Jesse Sokolow on 1 October 2015
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The original Palmer House, the first of three hotels with that name, burned to the ground on October 9 during the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, just 13 days after its grand opening. It was rebuilt and reopened in 1875, and again in 1925. Today, it operates as the Palmer House – a Hilton Hotel.

William E. Boeing was born on October 1, 1888, in Detroit, Michigan.  He later went on to found the Boeing Airplane Company.

On or around October 3, 1900, Wilbur Wright made the Wright Brothers’ first glider flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

The Ritz Madrid hotel in Madrid, Spain opened its doors on October 2, 1910 in a ceremony led by King Alfonso XIII.  Personalities such as Ernest Hemingway, Ava Gardner, Michelle Pfeiffer, Madonna, and Duran have stayed at the hotel. The hotel is operating today as a Ritz-Carlton property.

What is now the St. Regis in Washington, D.C. opened its doors as the Carlton Hotel on October 1, 1926.  The name was changed to the St. Regis in 1999.  The property is located on K Street, just two blocks from the White House.

The first in-flight fire to take place on a passenger aircraft occurred on October 2, 1926, when an Air Union Blériot 155 caught fire. Both crewmembers and all five passengers perished in the accident.

The first in-flight movies – two cartoon comedies – were shown on a Transcontinental flight on October 8, 1929.

On October 6, 1929, Inter-Island Airways began flight service. The carrier was renamed Hawaiian Airlines on October 1, 1941.

The first proven act of air sabotage in the history of commercial aviation occurred on October 10, 1933, when an explosive device went off in a Boeing 247 propliner headed from Cleveland to Chicago.  All seven people aboard perished in the crash.  Despite thorough investigation, no suspect has ever been identified or charged with the incident, and it remains unsolved to this day.

The B-29 Pacusan Dreamboat set a world non-stop, non-refueled distance record of 9,500 miles (15,288 kilometers) on a flight from Honolulu, Hawaii, to Cairo, Egypt on October 4, 1946.

The Sahara Hotel and Casino opened on the Las Vegas strip on October 7, 1952.  With 1,720 rooms, it was the last of the 50s vintage casino-hotels to open and served as an anchor at the northern end of the Strip.  It closed in 2011, and is currently undergoing renovations with a planned reopening as the SLS Las Vegas in late 2014.

On October 16, 1955, the Boeing Dash 80 flew non-stop from Seattle to Washington, D.C., and back.  The flight broke all transcontinental records for a commercial transport, at average speeds of 592 mph and 567 mph (952 km/h and 912 km/h).

One hundred and sixty four people lost their lives when an Aeroflot Ilyushin Il-62 crashed on approach to Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport on October 13, 1972. The accident is the second deadliest to occur on Russian soil.

The Douglas DC-9 Super 80 twin-engine jetliner, sixth basic model and largest of the popular DC-9 series, made its first flight on October 18, 1979.

On October 11, 1984, Aeroflot Flight 3352 crashed into maintenance vehicles on the runway at Omsk Airport in Russia. All 174 people onboard the plane, as well as four on the ground, died in the accident, which remains the deadliest aviation disaster to occur on Russian soil.

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