Great Moments in Travel History – February 2014

An American Airlines 757 landing at LAX

By Jesse Sokolow on 1 February 2014
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On February 1, 1859, the Menger Hotel in San Antonio, Texas opened its doors.  By the 1870s, the property was one of the best-known hotels in the American Southwest, and hosted such notable personalities as Theodore Roosevelt, Robert E. Lee, Dwight Eisenhower, Babe Ruth, Oscar Wilde, and William McKinley.  The hotel is still in operation today.

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

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

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

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

The Douglas DC-1 made a record breaking coast-to-coast flight on February 19, 1934, from Los Angeles to Newark, New Jersey, in 13 hours and 4 minutes.

The Douglas DC-5 made its first flight on February 20, 1939.  Only 12 of the aircraft were ever 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 stationed in Libya.

On February 10, 1944, American Airlines Flight 2, a Douglas DC-3, crashed into the Mississippi River, killing all 24 passengers onboard.  To this day, the cause of the crash remains a mystery.

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

On February 8, 1949, the Boeing B-47 jet bomber set a transcontinental speed record, covering 2,289 miles 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 its way to Brussels, Belgium.  All 72 passengers, as well as one person on the ground, perished in the crash, including the entire United States Figure Skating Team that was on its way to the 1961 World Championships in Prague, Czechoslovakia.

The Douglas DC-9 twinjet airliner, designed for short and frequent flights, made its first flight on February 25, 1965.  The aircraft preceded the introduction of the MD-80 series in 1980.

On February 9, 1969, the Boeing 747-100 made its first flight.  A total of 167 of the aircraft were manufactured.

A Dominican Airlines McDonnell DC-9 aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on February 15, 1970.  All 102 passengers and crew onboard died, including former world boxing champion Carlos Cruz, his wife and two children, as well as 12 members of the Puerto Rican women’s national volleyball team.

Click here to continue to Page 2Security Checkpoints, 757 First Flight, and W in Paris

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