Exploring the evolution of the longest commercial flight routes originating in the United States.
Commercial flight, which began about a century ago, has become increasingly popular, efficient, and far-reaching with every decade since. Airlines and aircraft manufacturers have helped to create today’s smaller, more intimately connected world by pushing back relentlessly against the limits of their aircrafts’ speed, maximum load, and range. In the process they have reduced the stress and strain of global travel, vastly increasing the passenger population while continually breaking their own records for safety. What follows are a few of the most salient advances, a selected sample of air routes that illustrate what amounts to a revolution in commercial flight.
Five Notable Long-Distance Routes
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First Commercial Flight
In 1914, a one-passenger, 23-minute flight across Tampa Bay marked the first commercial flight in history, a sure sign of a coming paradigm shift to the way we travel.
Commercial Passengers in the United States
The total number of domestic and international passengers in the United States has increased 366% since 1970.
Filling the Skies
The distance traveled so far by the worldwide Boeing 747 fleet is equal to about 100,000 trips to the moon and back.
The International Air Transport Association estimates that 3.8 billion people will fly on commercial flights in 2016.
Global demand for commercial flight will only grow in tandem with globalization, the rapid growth of an international middle class, and an aviation industry that promises continued advances to make commercial travel even faster, more comfortable, and more environmentally friendly. As for range, the next leap for commercial aviation might well be into outer space. Some wealthy citizens have already purchased tickets for the first passenger flights into space, and if the aerospace industry keeps up the pace of past innovation, the boarding pass to a space shuttle may someday be within the means of the rest of us as well.