Great Moments in Travel History – February 2019

Grand Central Terminal in New York City

By Jesse Sokolow on 1 February 2019
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February, the shortest month of the year in both the Julian and Gregorian calendars, is the last month of meteorological winter in the Northern Hemisphere, and the only month to have fewer than 30 days

The month’s name, February, is a divisive issue when it comes to pronunciation, although both FEB-roo-ary and FEB-yuh-ri are both accepted in North American and British English.

February takes its name from the Roman month Februarius, named after the Latin term februum, which means purification, this because the Februa purification ritual that was traditionally held on the 15th of the month in the old lunar Roman calendar.

Both January and February are the newest months in the calendar. The original Roman calendar had ten months and it ignored the 61-day period in the dead of winter, as it was considered that winter was a monthless period. The two were added during the reign of King Numa Pompilius, the semi-mythical successor to Romulu, and the calendar was adjusted so that January and February were the first two months under Decemvirs, who reformed and codified Roman law.

On February 2, 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the war between Mexico and the United States. The United States acquired territories comprising present day Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Texas, and Wyoming in exchange for a $15 million ($465 million in 2019 dollars) payment to Mexico.

Here’s what happened in Februarys past.

The Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, California opened on February 19, 1888. At the time it was the largest resort hotel in the world, and to this day it is the second largest wooden structure in the United States and has been designated a National Historic Landmark.

Charles Alfred Anderson, the first African American to earn a commercial pilot’s license, was born on February 8, 1907.

Grand Central Terminal, the world’s largest train station, based on the number of platforms, opened on February 2, 1913. Spread over 48 acres (19.5 hectares), it replaced Grand Central Station, although, one hundred years later, people still call the new structure by that name. It is one of the world’s most popular tourist attractions, drawing over 21 million visitors per year, and features numerous restaurants, food shops, and retail establishments.

The first wholly Douglas-designed, Douglas-built aircraft, the Cloudster, made its inaugural flight on February 24, 1921. It was the first airplane to lift a useful load greater than its own unladen weight.

On February 22, 1925, Geoffrey de Havilland took off from London in a DH.60 Moth constructed by his de Havilland Aircraft Company. The two-seat touring and training plane was of wood construction with fabric-covered surfaces, and marked the start of a new age in light aviation.

The Douglas DC-1 made a record breaking coast-to-coast flight on February 19, 1934, from Los Angeles, California, to Newark, New Jersey, in 13 hours and four minutes. Only one model of the aircraft was ever produced, although it was the basis for later models.

The Douglas DC-5 made its first flight on February 20, 1939. Only 12 of the 16- to 22- seat twin-engine propeller aircraft were built, including five as commercial DC-5 transports, and seven as R3D military transports.

The luxurious Boeing Stratoliners were stripped of their civilian finery and pressed into military service as C-75s starting on February 26, 1942. The aircrafts’ first flights carried antitank ammunition and medical supplies to British forces in Libya.

The Civil Aviation Authority approved the use of ground control approach landing aids on February 4, 1949. The systems used radar to help direct pilots while landing in low visibility or under bad weather conditions.

On February 8, 1949, a Boeing B-47 jet bomber set a transcontinental speed record, covering 2,289 miles (3,683 kilometers) in 3 hours and 46 minutes, at an average speed of 607.8 mph.

On February 15, 1961, Sabena Flight 548, a Boeing 707, crashed on approach to Brussels’ Zaventem Airport on its way from New York City. All 72 passengers, as well as one person on the ground, perished in the crash, as well as the entire United States Figure Skating Team that was on its way to the 1961 World Championships in Prague, Czechoslovakia.

Click here to continue to Page 2DC-9, MD-90,A320,  and 747 First Flights

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