Great Moments in Travel History – March 2022

By Jesse Sokolow on 1 March 2022
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March, the third month of the year, is the month when, two years ago, the World Health Organization proclaimed on March 11, 2020 that the novel coronavirus was now a pandemic. The travel industry just two years ago began to reel from the impact of the pandemic as major hotel chains shut down thousands of properties, banks closed an equal number of branches, airlines reduced schedules by up to 50%, and telecommuting became the way many people went to work.

Broadway theaters closed on March 12, and cultural institutions across the globe closed shortly thereafter.

March, however, wasn’t always the third month of the year.  In the Roman calendar, it was the first month as recently as 2,173 years ago. As a result, many cultures continue to celebrate the new year in March.

The month takes its name from Martius, the first month of the earliest Roman calendar, named after the Roman god Mars, a practice that continued in both the Julian and Gregorian calendars. It was one of the original 31-day months of the first 10-month Roman calendar, along with May, Quintilis (July), and October.

March is the first month of meteorological spring in the Northern Hemisphere and meteorological fall in the Southern and, with the March equinox, it marks the first month of astronomical spring and astronomical autumn in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, respectively.

Finally, Daylight Saving Time begins in March in the United States and Canada and British Summer Time and Sommerzeit begin later in the month in Europe.

Here’s what happened in Marches past.

On March 10, 1910, William Boeing bought Heath’s Shipyard in Seattle. 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.

Click here to continue to Page 2Storm of the Century, Bombing at Brussels Airport

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