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This 3.6-million-year-old footprint was made by our earliest known ancestor. Now it’s at risk of being lost forever

By Maureen O’Hare, CNN

(CNN) — In travel news this week: why climate change might make airplane turbulence worse, the best beaches in the United States just in time for Memorial Day and the record-breaking US pilot whose achievement was kept a secret for years.

Our changing world

The Laetoli footprints on the southern edge of Tanzania’s Serengeti Plains are the oldest known footprints of our earliest human ancestors and the first evidence of an upright walking hominid. However, they’re now at risk of being destroyed because of erosion from increasing storms and rainfall.

The site is one of 22 new projects to be funded by the British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund, which protects cultural heritage at risk from conflict and/or the climate crisis.

In the skies, severe airplane turbulence is something we could be seeing more of in the years to come because of climate change, and the episodes might last longer, too. Here’s why.

One person was killed and 104 were injured on board a Singapore Airlines plane Tuesday after the aircraft rapidly plunged before ascending several hundred feet, then repeated the drop and climb. Meteorologists say the plane likely met with fast-developing thunderstorms.

And in Dubai, which was recently hit by rains so heavy its airport was flooded, a city developer hopes to combat the climate crisis with its plans to build what it’s calling the “world’s largest coastal regeneration project,” by planting more than 100 million mangroves.

Sand and sea

The top 10 US beaches for 2024, according to expert “Dr. Beach,” have been revealed as Memorial Day weekend kicks off the busy summer season. A Hawaiian stretch of sand has been named the finest. The beaches are ranked using criteria including water and sand quality, the size of waves, wildlife, public safety and cleanliness.

The good doctor would be unimpressed by the situation in the UK, where sewage-engulfed beaches have become a national scandal. Here why things have gone down the drain.

If that story’s made you want to skip the swim and stay on your lounger with a good book, here’s a history of the “beach read.” It goes back to the 19th century and the construction of railroads and grand hotels.

There’s no such rest this week for the workers putting the finishing touches on the ship Villa Vie Odyssey, which on May 30 will set out from Belfast, Northern Ireland, on an endless cruise that will circumnavigate every three and a half years. The best bit is it’ll always be summer.

Aviation pioneers

The first Black woman to fly in the US Air Force made her final flight this week after 43 years flying planes both military and commercial and breaking down barriers along the way.

“I’ve had a great career,” Captain Theresa Claiborne told CNN. “And it’s time for me to park the brakes for the final time on a big airplane.” Here’s her remarkable story.

Captain Lynn Rippelmeyer started out as a flight attendant for TWA in 1972, but a few years later, she became the first woman to pilot a Boeing 747. She also flew a record-breaking US flight, but it was kept secret for years.

Mitsuko Tottori also started her aviation career as a flight attendant, but her path led to her becoming the first female president and chief executive of Japan Airlines (JAL). Read more about her 40-year rise to the top.

Finally, here are some tips on how to get over jet lag like a pro, from our partners at CNN Underscored, a product reviews and recommendations guide owned by CNN.

They met while hiking

He was visiting family in Utah. She was on a cross-country road trip. When they literally crossed paths in Bryce Canyon National Park, they fell for each other fast. But a sudden cancer diagnosis shocked the couple just a few months later.

In case you missed it

A 91-year-old returned to the spot where he first entered America. 

Something unexpected had changed.

Africa’s richest man says he needs 35 visas to travel in Africa.

That’s way more than a European visitor requires.

Buying a dream home in Italy can be a nightmare. 

This couple says it has the answer.

Why your next vacation might be all about sex. 

Sexual wellness is a growing travel trend.

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