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This week in travel: Oct. 22-28

Deb Hopewell, Y! Travel Senior Editor

Oct. 22, 1981

On this day, the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization was decertified by the federal government for its strike a few months earlier,  on Aug. 3.

When President Ronald Reagan ordered the striking workers to return to work within 48 hours or face firing (invoking provisions of the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act), only about 1,300 of the roughly 13,000 controllers returned to their jobs. Reagan immediately fired the 11,345 striking air traffic controllers who had ignored the order, and banned them from federal service for life.

Oct. 23, 1910

Aviatrix Blanche S. Scott became the first woman to make a public solo airplane flight in the United States, at an air show in Fort Wayne, Ind. Earlier that year, Scott became only the second woman to drive an automobile across the United States and the first to make the drive westward from New York City to San Francisco, leaving on May 16 and arriving July 23.

Oct. 24, 1901

Daredevil Anna Edson Taylor celebrated her 63rd birthday by becoming the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a wooden barrel.  She had the barrel made especially made for her, and two days before her attempt, sent a cat over Horseshoe Falls to test the barrel's strength (the intrepid feline survived unharmed, and later posed with Taylor in photographs). When Taylor's day arrived, she climbed in the barrel with her lucky heart-shaped pillow, the top was screwed down, and she was set adrift, going over the falls only minutes later  – and emerging with only a superficial gash to her head.

Alas, the stunt, which she dreamed up in attempt to gain financial security, didn't turn out quite the way she'd hoped. Her manager took off with her barrel, and she spent most of her money on private investigators, trying to get it back. She was 82 when she died, and is interred in the "Stunters Section" of Oakwood Cemetery in Niagara Falls, N.Y.

Oct. 25, 1888

Rear Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd, polar explorer and aviator, was born. Though his claims of being the first to fly over the North Pole has since been largely discredited, three years later he flew over the South Pole and was awarded a gold medal by the American Geographical society.

Oct. 26, 1958

Pan American Airways flew its first Boeing 707 jetliner from New York City to Paris.

Oct. 27, 1904

The New York subway, the first rapid-transit subway system in the country, was officially opened.

Oct. 28, 1886

Today,  exactly 126 years after President Grover S. Cleveland dedicated the Statue of Liberty  – a gift from the people of France  – at New York Harbor, the statue's crown will re-open after a yearlong renovation.

Visitors, who'll need to purchase their tickets online and are limited to 240 a day, must climb 162 steps to reach the crown, but will also have access to the pedestal-observation level beneath the 151-foot statue's feet, and a portion of the top of the star-shaped fort that acts as the statue's base. But the museum at the bottom of the statue will remain closed until the renovation is completed, sometime next year.