Update: Added in travel time of Concorde at end of the post.
Columbus’ first trip
The 1492 trip by Christopher Columbus took two years of lobbying before the king and queen of Spain approved 2 million Spanish maravedis to fund the trip. A professor has calculated that would be comparable to about US$1,000,000 today.
The cost seems low to me. I’ll look at that more later.
Crew size was 87 according to this article. The accountant in me is driven to calculate the cost per crewman. That would give an average cost of $11,494. I’ll round that to $11,500 and ignore any adjustment for several crew members who died on the trip.
His trip took two months, nine days, which I calculate at 70 days (30+31+9).
Several factors led to the end of rigid airships. The disaster took out half of the Zeppelin fleet, the U.S. blocked export of helium so the German company had no choice but to use (and would have continued using) explosive hydrogen, fixed wing aircraft were emerging as an alternative (specifically the then-cutting edge DC-3), Zeppelin travel was more expensive than ocean liners, and the disaster destroyed public confidence in the Zeppelins.
Check out the full article for more details.
According to the article, here are some tidbits on the cost of travel to cross the Atlantic at the time on the luxurious, faster airships and slower cruise ships:
Lots of fun articles in the last two months describing the wide open frontier of space exploration.
Ghana puts their first sat into orbit. Yes, Ghana. Very cool.
In the GPS world, Japan gets another sat in orbit and an Indian launch fails.
SpaceX may have more launches this year than Russia and one commentator thinks SpaceX will be dominant in the launch market for decades to come
7/8/17 – Behind the Black – Ghana launches its first satellite and 223 Live News, Ghana’s first Space Satellite enters Orbit – A cubsate built by university students in the western Africa country was launched from the ISS. The small satellite will take pictures of the country in low- and high-resolution. It will also be able to broadcast the national anthem and other music during national events.
Ghana is the first sub-Saharan country to get a satellite in space.
The sat went to the ISS on June 10 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9.
The time for transit from New York to Washington and back home is described. For comparison, I’ll repeat the timing for a trip by William Sherman described in another book, which I mentioned a while back.
Here are the transit times:
43 days – New York to San Francisco via Isthmus of Panama – 1852
51 days – San Francisco to New York via Panama – 1854
198 days – New York to Monterey, California sailing around Cape Horn – 1847
Lieutenant Grant’s unit was transferred from Michigan to the Washington territory.
At the time, there were three options for the trip. First was overland via the Oregon Trail. Second, sailing around Cape Horn at the tip of South America. Third, portage across the Isthmus of Panama.
The time you have to invest getting from here to there is a major cost of travel. We are so astoundingly spoiled today since we can end our day anywhere in the U.S. starting from anywhere else. Within 24 or 30 hours you can get to just about any country on the planet.
We have to work to remember that speed is a relatively new development. For most of human history the huge time needed to get from here to there was a severe limit on travel and commerce.
Graph the inflation-adjusted cost of air travel over the last 33 years – it looks like a straight line down until a couple of years ago and then a slight increase. Average ticket prices today are about 60% of what they were in 1980. Cool.
While touring the Wells Fargo Museum in San Diego, I enjoyed their description of the Pony Express. Of course I had to convert the cost of mailing a letter to now.
According to the museum, the Pony Express ran from April 1860 to October 1861. From April 1861 until October, Wells Fargo ran the Pony route west of Salt Lake City. However, they set the rates and printed stamps for the entire cross-country run.
Wells Fargo reduced the rate to $2 per ½ ounce and then cut the rate further to $1 per ½ ounce.
In terms of average pay of the time, that is equal to about half a ticket to fly from Missouri to San Francisco today.