Great Moments in Travel History – April 2016

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An Air France Airbus A380

An Air France Airbus A380

The McDonnell and Douglas companies merged on April 28, 1967 to form McDonnell Douglas Corp. with headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri.  James S. McDonnell became chairman and chief executive officer, and David S. Lewis served as president, while Donald W. Douglas was named honorary chairman of the board and served as “Founder-Consultant.”

The Boeing 737 made its first flight on April 9, 1967.  The 737 is the only Boeing narrow-body airliner still in production.  A new version, the Boeing 737 Max is scheduled to fly in 2017.

On April 20, 1968, South African Airways Flight 228 crashed in South West Africa (in what is now Namibia).  One hundred and twenty three of the 128 people aboard perished in the crash.

Aviation pioneer Howard Hughes died of kidney failure on April 5, 1976, while a passenger on a Learjet on his way to Houston, Texas.

Air Zimbabwe was formed on April 2, 1980.  Currently, the airline operates just two aircraft in its fleet.

On April 3, 1981, Pan Am founder Juan Trippe died in Los Angeles after suffering a second stroke. Among his many innovations, Trippe was responsible for convincing Boeing to develop and build the 747 jumbo jet, introducing coach or tourist class on planes, and founding Intercontinental Hotels.

The 1,010th Boeing 707 rolled out of the Renton, Washington, plant on April 30, 1991, bringing a 35-year-old production run to a conclusion.

On April 11, 1996, a fire broke out inside a terminal at Düsseldorf Airport in Germany.  Seventeen people perished as a result.

On April 2, 1997, a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER established the great circle “distance without landing” record when it flew 10,823 nautical miles (20,044 km) east from Seattle to Kuala Lumpur in 21 hours and 23 minutes.

Air Philippines Flight 531, a Boeing 737-2H4, crashed on the Philippine island of Davao del Norte on April 19, 2000, killing all 131 people on board. The incident was the deadliest air disaster in the history of the Philippines.

On April 26, 2004, Boeing launched the 787 Dreamliner program, with an order for 50 787s from All Nippon Airways. The aircraft is 20% more fuel efficient than the Boeing 767, and features extensive use of composite materials in its construction.

The Airbus A380 made its maiden flight on April 27, 2005.  The aircraft is the largest passenger airliner flying, and first entered commercial service with Singapore Airlines in October 2007.

On April 5, 2013, Boeing completed the second of two 787 Dreamliner test flights, the purpose of which was to show that changes made to the plane’s lithium-ion battery system had solved the aircraft’s battery overheating problems experienced earlier that year.  The plane, in LOT Polish Airlines livery, made the 755-mile (1,216 kilometer) flight along the west coast of the United States without any incidents.  Eleven months later, the FAA officially gave the plane a clean bill of health.

On April 27, 2013, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner made its first passenger-carrying flight since the worldwide grounding of Dreamliners in January of that year. An Ethiopian Airlines 787 flew from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to Nairobi, Kenya with no incident.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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