This Week In Business Travel History – 4 March 2012

By Michael Acampora on 5 March 2012
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In 1854, U.S. Commodore Matthew C. Perry landed in Japan for the second time. His business trip culminated in the signing of the Convention of Kanagawa, a treaty between the U.S. and the Tokugawa shogunate.

The United States government issued paper money for the very first time in 1862. The currency was [rinted in $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, $500, and $1000 denominations.

In 1876, the U.S. Patent Office granted Alexander Graham Bell the patent for the telephone, despite claims that a contemporary, Elisha Gray, actually invented the telephone first. Three days later, Bell placed the first phone call.  It was to his assistant, Thomas Watson and it was then that he uttered the famous words, “Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you.”

Decades later, the New York Yankees became the first baseball team to ever travel by train outside of the U.S. when they began their 1913 spring training in Bermuda.

In 1923, Igor Sikorsky, who developed the first stable, single-rotor, fully controllable helicopter to be produced in large numbers,  founded the Sikorsky Aero Engineering Corporation, which, after several minor name changes, eventually became a division of, United Aircraft (which became United Technologies in 1975).

There was yet another milestone in telephone history this week— the first ever transatlantic telephone call, which took place in 1926. The call was from London to New York.

The first flight of the Hindenburg lighter than air craft (designed by Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbH and built in Friedrichshafen near Lake Constance, took place in Germany in 1936. In May 1937, in one of the most infamous disasters in history, the Hindenburg caught fire and crashed while attempting to dock in Lakehurst, New Jersey..

The first London minicabs were introduced in 1961, competing with the prototypical Austin FX3 and FX4 London taxis. Carline Cabs, the pioneer of the minicab, used a fleet of 12 Ford Anglia 105Es to carry 500 passengers in the first week of operation Using a loophole in the laws covering cars for hire, Carline booked trips by telephone instead of having the cabs hailed on the street.

In 1962, a Convair B-58, the first supersonic jet bomer capable of Mach 2 flight,  flew a round trip between Los Angeles and New York, and set three records in the process: the fastest flight between the two cities,  the fastest transcontinental flight, and the fastest round-trip flight.

Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport (also known as Roissy) opened in 1974. In 2011, over 60 million passengers passed through the airport, and it’s currently the world’s sixth busiest.

Eastern Airlines filed for bankruptcy this week in 1989.  Founded in 1926, Eastern had been crippled by massive labor strikes that led to canceled flights and, in turn, the loss of millions of dollars.

Finally, for those who have wondered if their transcon flight could be speeded up a bit, consider this: An SR-71 Blackbird, an advanced, long-range Mach 3+ reconnaissance aircraft, set the transcontinental speed record in 1990, flying from Los Angeles to Washington D.C. (2,404 miles or 3,868 km) in 1 hour, 4 minutes, and 20 seconds. The Blackbird was flying to a museum to be retired, and averaged a speed of 2,124 mph (3,418 km/h) in its journey.

(Pictured: An Air France Airbus A380 aircraft at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport. Photo by Jonathan Spira)

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