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80 years ago today

May 21, 2007

Lindburgh landed in Paris after the first non-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean.  Spending over 33 hours in continual flight Lindburgh was hailed a hero and became an instant celebrity.  Will Roger’s said of Lindburgh’s risky flight:

A … slim, tall, bashful, smiling American boy is somewhere over the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, where no lone human being has ever ventured before. … If he is lost it will be the most universally regretted loss we ever had.

Go read about it in today’s Writer’s Almanac.  As someone who loves international flights and considers travel to be a lifelong goal, I often forget how startlingly new this development is for humans.  Sure one could travel by boat a hundred years ago, and if given enough time could get to almost any point on the globe, but we currently live in a world where I can get to England in less than 10 hours or about the same amount of time it takes my family and I to drive to eastern Pennsylvania. 

This also makes me think how radically our world would change if the doomsayers prove correct and we run out of gasoline in the next 50 years.  Sure we have made great strides towards renewable resources for cars and trucks, but have any advancements been made for airplanes?  Is there any plan for what will happen to international travel if our supply of petroleum runs out?  How brief a window in human history is our ability to travel to remote countries on a summer’s wim?

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