A view of the past: Nine travel anniversaries for 2009


100 years ago: on 25 July 1909, Louis Blériot flies from Sangatte, near Calais, to Dover. The 22-mile trip takes 37 minutes, and he wins a £1,000 prize from a London newspaper for doing the first Channel crossing by air.

90 years ago: on 25 August 1919, the first international scheduled air service begins, between Croydon (south of London) and Le Bourget (north of Paris). Both airports have since closed to scheduled traffic, though Le Bourget still accepts private flights and hosts the Paris Air Show.

80 years ago: on 17 February 1929, the first inflight feature film is shown during a Universal Air Lines flight from Minneapolis-St Paul to Chicago. And on 14 October, the largest-ever airship, the R101, makes her maiden flight from Cardington, Bedfordshire to London. Less than a year later, she crashes in France on her first flight to India, killing 44 people, including the Secretary of State for Air. Cardington church has a memorial to them.

70 years ago: on 24 November 1939, a few months into the Second World War, Imperial Airways and British Airways merge to form the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC), which was later to become part of British Airways.

50 years ago: on 17 November 1959, Britain's first duty-free shops open at Glasgow's two airports, Prestwick and Renfrew.

30 years ago: on 12 June 1979, as one of the first acts of the Thatcher administration, foreign-exchange controls are abolished by Britain. Previously, travellers to locations outside the "Sterling Area" (practically everywhere other than Ireland, Iceland and Gibraltar) had to declare the amounts they were changing into foreign currency and taking abroad, with annual limits applied.

30 years ago: on 28 November 1979, an Air New Zealand DC-10 on a sightseeing flight to Antarctica crashes into Mount Erebus, killing all 257 people on board.

20 years ago: on 2 May 1989, Hungarian border guards allow people to cross unhindered into Austria, outside the town of Sopron. The first chink in the "Iron Curtain" leads swiftly to mass emigration from East Germany and the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe. The same week, the Travellers' Survival Kit: Soviet Union and Eastern Europe is published, containing full details of how to cross the Berlin Wall legally; by November, this divisive barrier had fallen.

10 years ago: on 11 August 1999, millions of people witness the final total solar eclipse of the 20th century (pictured). Hundreds of thousands of them are in Cornwall, the only part of the United Kingdom to be crossed by the "line of totality". The longest solar eclipse that the world will see in the 21st century – six minutes, 39 seconds – is set to take place on 22 July this year, with the best views likely to be from China and Japan.

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