1972: The Start of a Major Transportation Trade Show at Dulles International Airport

May 27, 1972

The U.S. International Transportation Exposition — best known as Transpo ‘72 — was formally opened at Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia (26 miles [41.8 kilometers] west of Washington, D.C.). U.S. Transportation Secretary John A. Volpe presided over the opening of that extensive nine-day trade show.

“Flying trains, square dancing helicopters and the fantasy of a wonderland” is how one news release described what attendees could expect to witness at the exposition, which was organized by Kaiser Industries executive William J. Bird on behalf of the U.S. Department of Transportation. This trade show encompassed approximately 500 exhibits of air and ground transportation equipment and emphasized futuristic technology and themes. 

Highlights of Transpo ‘72 included a total of four transit vehicles (one of them a 24-passenger version built by the Ford Motor Company) that were each computer-generated without any crewmen on board; aviation displays in the skies above that ranged from military jets flying in formation to vintage airplanes reenacting old-time stunts; and an electric Detroit-manufactured automobile called the Electrosport that was capable of transporting two individuals and 500 pounds (226.8 kilograms) of cargo all at once. Another key feature of Transpo ‘72 was an International Vehicle and Highway Safety Conference sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration. 

The overall expectations for the exposition were perhaps best summarized by President Richard M. Nixon in the welcoming remarks that he transmitted while visiting the Soviet Union at that time. Nixon asserted in his statement, “Transpo ‘72 expresses the scope and detail of our resolve to achieve for tomorrow a transportation system that will advance the prosperity of our society and the well being of every American and the good of all mankind.” 

Photo Credit: Public Domain

For more information on Transpo ’72, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transpo_%2772

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