Great Moments in Travel History – March 2019

By Jesse Sokolow on 1 March 2019
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March, the third month of the year in both the Julian and Gregorian calendars, takes its name from Martius, the first month of the earliest Roman calendar. It was one of the original 31-day months of the first 10-month Roman calendar, along with May, Quintilis (July), and October.

Today, many cultures continue to celebrate the new year in March.

March is the first month of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and the first month of autumn in the Southern.

Here’s what happened in Marches past.

On March 10, 1910, William Boeing bought Heath’s Shipyard in Seattle, Washington. The shipyard, located on the Duwamish River, would later become Boeing’s first airplane factory.

Le Canard (French for “the Duck”), the first seaplane, made its debut flight at La Mède harbor in Martigues, France, on March 28, 1910. The aircraft was built by Henri Fabre, and flew a distance of about 1,600 feet (487 meters) at a maximum altitude of 7 feet (2 meters) over the water.

Farman Airlines began the first international commercial route between Paris and Brussels on March 22, 1919.

Swissair was formed on March 26, 1931, by the merger of Ad Astra 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 occupants. The accident resulted in the formation of an expanded aerodynamics 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 Pan Am Building – designed by Walter Gropius, Pietro Bellischi, and Richard Roth – opened on March 7, 1963.  Originally known as Grand Central City, the 808’ (246 m) tower took the name of the storied airline after Pan Am fonder Juan Trippe leased 15 floors in the building along with space for a ticket office at Vanderbilt Avenue and 45th Street.

Trans World Airlines Flight 553 collided on March 9, 1967, 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 at 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.

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

Charles de Gaulle International Airport in Paris, France, began operations on March 8, 1974. Also known as Roissy, it is the eighth busiest airport in the world and Europe’s second busiest, after London Heathrow.

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.

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