The Romantic History of the “Flying Hotel”

Although we obsess these days about making aircraft lighter, speedier, more fuel-efficient, above all else, making them more quickly than ever before, we should remember that the revolution in air travel began long before any of us started flying for work. In fact, the “world has been getting smaller”, since the first ad for travel appeared. We all know that the golden age of travel disappeared long ago, if, indeed, it ever existed at all. But for a moment, let’s take the long view of air travel and remember when the exotic land of Hawaii got so much closer: The Romantic History of the Flying Hotel

It’s still amazing to us that humankind ever found a way to fly. But it especially blows our minds to think about people flying out to Hawaii — the most geographically-isolated landmass in the world — in the early 1900s.

While the Wright Brothers and Charles Lindbergh’s landmark flights are what we remember most, the most romantic period of flight belongs to Pan American Airways and its Clippers. The so-called flying boats took rich people to paradise before the bombs of World War II interrupted the dream.

A piece of this history is the subject of an exhibition at Washington, D.C.’s Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, titled “Hawaii By Air,” on view through July 2015. It looks at how advancements in air travel worldwide changed Hawaii’s tourism, and all of Hawaii, forever.

Flights in Hawaii started in the early 1900s, around the same time as they did in South Carolina for the Wright Brothers. But it wasn’t until the ‘20s that inter-island flights really became the way to see the islands.


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