Great Moments in Travel History – October 2020

A Boeing 787 Dreamliner with ANA livery

By Jesse Sokolow on 1 October 2020
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October is the month inexorably associated with Oktoberfest, a celebration of Bavarian culture and Bavarian beer that typically begins at the end of September in Munich, although it will not be held in 2020 amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

It is the tenth month of the year in both the Julian and Gregorian calendar, is the sixth of seven months in a year that have 31 days. It was the eighth month in the old Roman calendar and its name comes from the Latin word for eight, “octo.”

The month of October is also associated with the beginning of fall in the Northern Hemisphere and the start of spring in the Southern.

Here’s what happened in Octobers past.

William E. Boeing, founder of the Boeing Airplane Company, was born on October 1, 1888, in Detroit, Michigan.

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 presided by King Alfonso XIII. The property was built at the request of the king, who wanted a luxury hotel similar to Ritz Hotels in London and Paris. Personalities such as Ernest Hemingway, Ava Gardner, Michelle Pfeiffer, Madonna, and Duran Duran have been guests at the hotel. Today the Ritz Madrid is a Ritz-Carlton property.

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.

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, the incident 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.

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 eastbound and 567 mph westbound (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 aircraft-related incident to occur on Russian soil.

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

On October 11, 1984, Aeroflot Flight 3352 crashed into maintenance vehicles on the runway at Omsk Airport in Siberia. 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.

On October 28, 1990, United Airlines agreed to buy Pan American World Airways’ London routes for $400 million. The deal gave United Pan Am’s gateways in Los Angeles; New York; Washington, D.C.; San Francisco; and Seattle. Pan Am sold the remainder of its route network the following year and ceased operations on December 4, 1991.

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