Great Moments in Travel History – July 2019

By Jesse Sokolow on 1 July 2019
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July is the seventh month of the calendar and was named after the Roman dictator Gauis Julius Caesar. Before that, it was known as Quintillis, or the fifth month of the ten-month Roman calendar.

The month is typically the start of the “dog days” of summer, a period of hot, humid, and uncomfortable weather. The ancient Romans blamed Sirius, the Dog Star, which was believed to be a precursor to the sultry weather.

Here’s what happened in Julys past.

Ferdinand von Zeppelin, the founder of the Zeppelin airship company, builder of the Hindenburg dirigible made infamous by the disaster in 1937 at the Lakehurst Naval Air Engineering Station, in New Jersey, was born on July 8, 1838.

On July 10, 1887, the Grand Hotel opened on Mackinac Island, Michigan. The property, now a National Historic Landmark, boasts of having the world’s largest porch. Over the years, the hotel has hosted a variety of notable guests including Thomas Edison, Mark Twain, five U.S. Presidents (Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton), Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev.

Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic was born on July 24, 1898. Amelia Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean during their ill-fated attempt to circumnavigate the globe on July 2, 1937. To this day, many theories remain about what transpired and the fate of the two pioneering aviators.

On July 17, 1902, William Carrier, a junior engineer at a furnace company, built a solution for a printing company in Brooklyn that controlled humidity levels, thereby allowing the company to continue operating in the summer.  Carrier, who later founded Carrier Corporation, today the world’s largest manufacturer of air conditioners, devised a solution that included fans, ducts, heaters, and perforated pipes, that allowed the presses to run.  The invention permanently altered life in hot and humid cities across the globe.

The Grand Hotel Rimini opened on July 1, 1908, in Rimini, Italy. The hotel became world-famous after Italian director Federico Fellini featured it in several of his films. It was designated a national monument in 1994, and is still in operation.

On July 27, 1909, Orville Wright piloted the first official test flight of the U.S. Army’s first airplane at Fort Myer, Virginia. The flight lasted approximately one hour and 12 minutes.

The British dirigible Airship R-34 completed the first-ever air crossing of the Atlantic on July 6, 1919. The lighter-than-air craft flew to New York from East Fortune in Scotland.

The first flight of the Douglas DC-1 took place on July 1, 1933. The aircraft was the first model of the DC commercial transport series.

On July 17, 1948, Miss Macao, a Catalina seaplane owned by Cathay Pacific and operated by one of its subsidiaries, was hijacked by a group of people who intended to rob and ransom the passengers. After a struggle in the cockpit, the plane crashed on its way from Macau to Hong Kong, killing the 26 people on board except for the lead hijacker. The incident was the first recorded hijacking of a commercial aircraft.

Varney Speed Lines (later known as Continental Airlines, which in turn merged with United Airlines in 2010) made its first flight on July 15, 1934. The flight carried mail – but no passengers – on a 530-mile (852-kilometer) route from Pueblo, Colorado, to El Paso, Texas, with stops in Las Vegas, Santa Fe, and Albuquerque.

On July 21, 1936, the Boeing Airplane Company signed a contract with Pan American Airways to build six Model 314 Clippers, a long-range flying boat that was one of the largest aircraft of its time.

Northwest Airlines operated the first commercial passenger flight from the United States to Japan on July 15, 1947. A Northwest Douglas DC-4 flew from Anchorage to Tokyo.

On July 1, 1948, the first airline flight departed John F. Kennedy International Airport (then called Idlewild Airport). Scheduled international flights began to arrive eight days later on July 9.

El Al Israel Airlines completed its first international flight on July 3, 1949, with service from Tel Aviv to Paris, with a refueling stop in Rome.

On July 2, 1962, Alitalia Flight 771, a Douglas DC-8, crashed near Bombay, India, killing all 94 passengers and crew onboard.

Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin became the first human beings to walk on the moon when Apollo 11 made the first manned landing on the Sea of Tranquility on July 20, 1969.

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