Boeing Marks Its 100th Year in Business

boeing buildingBoeing Headquarters in Chicago, Illinois

On October 1, 1881, William E. Boeing was born in Detroit, Michigan. He, and the company he would later found, would offer innovation and expansion to a fledgling aircraft building industry in the early part of the 20th Century. His philosophy was, and the company’s still is, to “Build something better”. Later, armed with many strategic concepts and systems developed by the company, the U.S. would survive the Second World War, a Cold War, and other conflicts abroad. Commercially, Boeing products helped to fuel a revolution in global air travel, bringing the world closer together. On July 15, 2016, Boeing will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the company’s founding, begun when William Boeing incorporated the Pacific Aero Products Company of Seattle Washington.

Although one could write a very thick book about all of the company’s endeavors, here are just a few of them in the aircraft designing and manufacturing realm, interspersed with photos of some of Boeing’s familiar products:

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William E. Boeing

20th Century Teen Years

1910 William Boeing buys Heath’s shipyard in Seattle, Wash., on the Duwamish River. One of its buildings would become his first airplane factory, known as the “Red Barn”.
1915 William Boeing has a hangar built beside Lake Union in Seattle
1916 Final assembly begins of the B & W seaplane in Boeing’s Lake Union boathouse; the craft is named after the initials of its two designers’ last names – Willian Boeing and Lt. Conrad Westervelt USN. Soon, Bluebill, the first B & W, makes its maiden flight. On July 15, 1916, William Boeing incorporates Pacific Aero Products Co. for $100,000. He buys 998 of the 1,000 stocks issued and moves the operation to the shipyard he bought in 1910. Finally towards the end of the year, pilot Herb Munter takes the Model C, designed by Boeing’s first aeronautical engineer Wong Tsoo, above Lake Union on its first flight.
1917 William Boeing changes the name of Pacific Aero Products to the Boeing Airplane Company. Two Boeing Airplane Company Model Cs are assembled for Navy officials in Pensacola, Florida, and subsequently, the Navy orders 50 of the seaplane trainers
1918 The Boeing Airplane Co. begins delivery of Model C trainers to the Navy. Additionally, Boeing signs a contract with the Navy for $116,000 to build 50 Curtiss-designed HS-2L flying boats, but after World War I ends, the HS-2L contract is cut in half.
1919 William Boeing and pilot Eddie Hubbard fly 60 letters from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Seattle in Boeing’s C-700 (a Model C) as part of the Canadian Exposition. This is the first international airmail to reach the United States. The B-1 mail plane, the first Boeing-designed commercial aircraft, makes its first flight.

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Boeing Model 40C with 787 in flight

The 20’s

1920 The Boeing BB-1 seaplane, another new commercial aircraft, makes its first flight.
1921 The Boeing Airplane Company lands a contract to build 200 Thomas Morse MB-3A pursuit fighters, the government will pay $7,240 per fighter. One of these planes (MB-3A Number 54), flown by Lt. D.F. Stace, wins the 1921 Pulitzer Trophy Race at Selfridge Field, Mich., flying 147.8 mph over a 200-mile course.
1923 Boeing pilot Frank Tyndall takes the Model 15, the prototype of the first company-designed fighter, on its first successful test flight. The Army buys the Model 15 giving it the military designation PW-9 (“pursuit, water-cooled”). Also, the NB-1, a two-seat seaplane trainer developed from the Model 15, makes its first flight. The Army and Navy eventually buy more than 157 derivatives of the Model 15.
1925 The Boeing Model 40 mail plane makes its first flight, testing the wood used to construct its fuselage. It will evolve into the Model 40A. The company delivers the first of 10 FB-1s to the Navy. This one-seat land biplane is the Navy version of the Army PW-9 fighter.
1927 The Boeing Airplane Company signs a contract with the U.S. Postal Department to fly airmail on the 1,918-mile route between Chicago, Ill., and San Francisco, Calif., using the Model 40A mail plane with an air-cooled engine. Later, Boeing Air Transport (BAT), predecessor to United Airlines, is founded to operate the mail routes and run the new airline.
1928 Boeing Air Transport acquires 73 percent of Pacific Air Transport’s stock and runs an airline up and down the West Coast. The Boeing Model 204 (B-1E), a four-seat civilian flying boat, makes its first flight. The Boeing Model 80, a 12-passenger trimotor biplane transport, also makes its first flight. Finally, the Boeing Airplane and Transport Corporation is formed to encompass both airline and aircraft manufacturing operations.
1929 The Boeing Airplane and Transport Corporation changes its name to United Aircraft and Transportation Corporation, and by the end of the year had expanded its operations to include Chance Vought Corp., Hamilton Metalplane Division, Boeing Aircraft of Canada, Stout Airlines, Northrop Aircraft Corp., Stearman Aircraft Co., Sikorsky Aviation Corp., Standard Steel Propeller Co. and Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Co
In the air, the upgraded 18-passenger Model 80A, makes its first flight. The Army’s Boeing P-12 fighter makes its first flight, followed shortly later by the Navy’s version, the F4B-1. The military will order 586 airplanes in the series. Another aircraft pushing aviation’s boundaries, the Boeing Model 40B-4 makes its first flight too. It is the first plane in the Model 40 series to use the two-way radio, designed by Thorpe Hiscock, William Boeing’s brother-in-law.

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Boeing 247 airliner

The 30s

1930 The Monomail, the first Boeing commercial monoplane, makes its first flight. The Stearman Aircraft Company, part of the Boeing group, starts building a new plant in Wichita, Kansas this year.
1931 Boeing Air Transport, National Air Transport, Varney Airlines and Pacific Air Transport combine as United Air Lines, providing coast-to-coast passenger service and mail service. It takes 27 hours to fly the route, one way. Boeing’s first monoplane bomber, the B-9 (Model 215), makes its first flight this year, too.
1932 The Boeing P-26 Peashooter makes its first flight. Examples of the fighter will still be in front-line service at the beginning of World War II in the Pacific.
1933 Boeing begins production of 136 P-26 monoplane fighters for the Army Air Corps at an initial contract price of $9,000 each. The first flight of the Boeing 247 airliner occurred this year.
1934 Government regulations require that United Aircraft and Transport Corp. divide into three separate companies: United Aircraft Co., Boeing Airplane Co. and United Air Lines. Boeing leaves the airline industry, and concentrates on building aircraft. Boeing engineers start to develop the XB-15 after the U.S. Army Air Corps asks for a design for a very heavy, long-range experimental bomber. Boeing Airplane Company subsidiary Stearman Aircraft, located in Wichita, Kan., delivers its first of 10,346 Kaydet primary trainers to the military.

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Boeing B-17G in flight

1935 The Boeing Model 299 (XB-17), prototype of the B-17, makes its first flight at Boeing Field in Seattle. Later that year, with a military pilot at the helm, the aircraft crashes at Wright Field in Dayton. The $432,034 airplane is destroyed, and one passenger is killed.
1936 Despite the crash of the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress prototype, because it did so well in earlier tests, the Army orders 13 YB-17s. Additionally, a contract with Pan American Airways to build six Model 314 Clipper flying boat airliners is signed too. To keep up with the demand for more manufacturing space, the Boeing Airplane Co. buys 28 acres on Marginal Way in Seattle, between Boeing Field and the Duwamish Waterway, and builds a $250,000 facility at the site.
1937 Boeing test pilot Eddie Allen takes the mammoth Model 294 (XB-15) on its first flight.
1938 The first flight of the Model 314 Boeing Clipper occurs, piloted by Eddie Allen. Later that year, Allen pilots the Model 307 Stratoliner, the first American pressurized commercial transport, on its first flight.

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Boeing B-29s on the assembly line in Wichita, Kansas

The 40s

1940 Boeing delivers Pan American Airways its first Model 307 Stratoliners. Later in the year, a Trans World Airlines Stratoliner flies from New York to Los Angeles in 12 hours, 18 minutes. Another highlight of the year is that the Army Air Corps allocated $85,652 for further design and wind tunnel tests of Model 345, basis for the B-29 bomber.
1941 Boeing starts production engineering for 264 service-model B-29s, 15 months before the first prototype XB-29 is test-flown. The U.S. Navy selects the small town of Renton, Washington on Lake Washington, for the new manufacturing facility for XPBB-1 (Model 344) Sea Ranger flying boats.
1942 The prototype Boeing XPBB-1 Sea Ranger (the “Lone Ranger”), a long-range seaplane patrol bomber, makes its first flight. More importantly, the Boeing Model 345 (B-29) bomber makes its first flight. Soon, the declining need for amphibious aircraft and needed space to produce B-29 bombers leads to the Sea Ranger program being cancelled.
1943 The prototype B-29 crashes, killing test pilot Eddie Allen, the crew and 19 on the ground. Months later, the first production model B-29 rolls out of the Wichita, Kan., plant. Even as the revolutionary B-29 is still in its infancy, Boeing engineers start preliminary studies for developing a jet-powered aircraft too.
1944 Because of the prototype B-29 crash, Boeing Aircraft Company invests $750,000 in the largest and fastest wind tunnel ever built, naming it after Eddie Allen. The Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter prototype, Model 367, makes its first flight this year; the transport includes many B-29 innovations.
1945 In August, the Boeing B-29 Enola Gay drops an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan and three days later, the B-29 Bockscar bombs Nagasaki, Japan. Soon, World War II ends. The government cancels its orders for many bombers, and by the end of the year, 70,000 Boeing employees will be left without jobs. On the up side, Boeing is authorized to build the B-29D, with some major improvements over the original –A model. Once built, it will be so different from the B-29 that it will be redesignated the B-50. Pan American World Airways orders 20 Boeing Stratocruisers (Model 377), a commercial version of the C-97 military transport. William M. Allen is elected president of the Boeing Airplane Company in September, and will lead the company through the transition from piston engine transports and bombers to jet-driven aircraft. A C-97 Stratofreighter (Model 367) sets a transcontinental record by flying 2,323 miles from Seattle to Washington, D.C., in 6 hours, 4 minutes, at an average speed of 383 mph. The Boeing B-29 Pacusan Dreamboat sets a world nonstop distance record of 8,198 miles on a flight from Guam to Washington, D.C. after the war ends.

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Boeing B-47

1946 The Army Air Forces announces it has ordered two prototypes for a new multi-engined, jet-powered bomber, the Boeing XB-47… and Boeing signs a contract to design the B-52, a long-range heavy bomber that will be produced in the next decade. The first production-model Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter rolls out, and the B-29 Pacusan Dreamboat again sets a world record – a nonstop, unrefueled distance record of 9,500 miles on a flight from Honolulu to Cairo, Egypt.
1947 First flight of the Boeing 377 Stratocruiser airliner is made, as well as the first flight of the Boeing L-15 Scout liaison-observation aircraft. Boeing test pilot Bob Robbins takes the XB-47 Stratojet on its first flight from Boeing Field, Seattle, to Larson Air Force Base at Moses Lake, Washington too.
1948 The Boeing “flying boom” in-flight refueling system is publicized; it will be featured on future aerial tankers.
1949 The first C-97A Stratofreighter is delivered to the Air Force. A Boeing B-47 bomber sets a transcontinental speed record, covering 2,289 miles in 3 hours, 46 minutes, at an average speed of 607.8 mph. In another record breaking event, the Boeing B-50 Lucky Lady II begins the first 94-hour nonstop aerially refueled flight around the world from Fort Worth, Texas.

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Boeing YB-52 Stratofortress

The 50s

1951 The first Boeing B-52 bomber is secretly rolled out in darkness at the Seattle plant.
1952 A.M. “Tex” Johnston and Guy Townsend take the B-52 Stratofortress prototype on its first flight from Boeing Field in Seattle to Larson Air Force Base, Moses Lake, Washington. Boeing starts building the Model 367-80, the jetliner and jet tanker prototype that will be known as the Dash 80, in a closed-off area at the Renton, Washington, plant.
1953 The first of 159 Boeing KC-97F model Stratotankers is delivered to the Air Force.
1954 Pilot A.M. “Tex” Johnston and copilot R.L. “Dix” Loesch take the Boeing Model 367-80 (Dash 80) on its first flight. Production of the Air Force’s KC-135 Stratotanker version begins too.

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Boeing 367 – 80 rollout

1955 Tex Johnston does two “barrel rolls” with the Boeing Dash 80 over the Seafair hydroplane course on Lake Washington in Seattle. Shortly afterwards, Pan American World Airways orders 20 Boeing Model 707 jet transports. Later that year, the Dash 80 flies nonstop from Seattle to Washington, D.C., and back, breaking all transcontinental records for a commercial transport, at average speeds of 592 mph and 567 mph.
1956 The first Boeing KC-135 rolls out from the Renton plant, followed a few minutes later by the last KC-97.
1957 Three Boeing B-52s, led by Lucky Lady III, fly 24,325 miles around the world in 45 hours, 19 minutes, at an average speed of 520 mph. They halve the previous around-the-world record set by the Lucky Lady II, in 1949. On the civil side of business, the first production Boeing Model 707-120 jet rolls out at Renton, Wash.
1958 The U.S. Air Force orders three Boeing 707-120s for use by the president and other high-ranking officials. Designated VC-137A, they will be called Air Force One when the president is aboard. Pan American World Airways takes delivery of the country’s first commercial jet airliner, a Boeing 707-120, four months ahead of schedule. It starts service in October on a trans-Atlantic route.
1959 The first Boeing-built VC-137 is delivered to the Air Force for presidential use. Later this year, President Dwight D. Eisenhower will be the first American president to travel on the VC-137.

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William Boeing and Juan Trip of Pan Am

The 60s

1960 Boeing buys the Vertol Aircraft Corp. of Philadelphia, Pa., and its subsidiaries and forms the Vertol Division of Boeing.
1961 A Boeing Vertol Model 107 helicopter (basis of the CH-46 Sea Knight) wins a Navy design competition. Also, the Vertol Division’s CH-47A Chinook helicopter makes its first flight.
1962 The last Boeing B-52H, the eighth and final version of the intercontinental bomber, rolls out of Wichita, Kan., to be delivered to the Air Force Oct. 26. The first production 727-100 rolls out this year too.
1963 The 72 trijet makes its first flight on Feb. 9, 1963.
1964 Boeing and Lockheed are selected to design the SST
1965 The last of 820 Boeing KC-135 aerial tankers is delivered to the Air Force.
1966 Boeing announces it will build a 490-passenger 747 transport. Construction will begin in June on a new plant to build the huge jets in Everett, Wash. In a different commercial transport program, Boeing wins the competition to design the supersonic transport (SST); it is known as the Boeing 2707.
1967 The Model 737 makes its first flight.
1968 “T” Wilson is elected Boeing company president. William M. Allen becomes chairman of the board.
1969 The Boeing 747-100 makes its first flight.

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Boeing E-3C Sentry

The 70s

1970 The Boeing 747 makes its first commercial flight from New York to London for Pan American. Also, Boeing is selected as prime contractor for the Air Force’s new airborne warning and control system (AWACS).
1971 Government funding for the SST program announced in 1964 ends, the Boeing 2707 is never built.
1972 The first Boeing testbed for a future AWACS plane, the EC-137D, makes its first flight. It is a version of the 707 transport. The Boeing Dash 80 is retired and donated to the Smithsonian Institution.
1973 The first of three Air Force E-4As makes its first flight. These are Boeing 747s modified as Advanced Airborne Command posts. Later, a fourth fuselage is ordered in the form of an E-4B; the three –A versions were modified up to the newer standard later.
1974 NASA buys a Boeing 747 from American Airlines, and under a $30 million contract from Rockwell International, Boeing begins modifying it into the first Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.
1976 First flight of the new E-3A Sentry AWACS aircraft. The Boeing YC-14 military STOL transport makes its first flight too.
1977 The modified Boeing 747 is delivered for use as a delivery vehicle for the Space Shuttle.
1978 Boeing begins production of the 767 twinjet first, and the 757 a bit later in the year.

US Navy E-6 Mercury (Boeing 707-320), VQ-4 The Shadows, #164-409, at Pease (9609.2)

Boeing E-6B Mercury

The 80s

1980 The 500th Boeing 747 rolls out at Everett, Wash.
1981 The Boeing 767-200 makes its first flight.
1982 The Boeing 757-200 makes its first flight
1983 The FAA announces that the Boeing 757 and 767 models share so many common features that a pilot who qualifies in one model is automatically qualified on the other.
1986 Boeing and Bell Helicopter Textron start building six prototypes of the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor.
1987 The Boeing E-6A TACAMO prototype flies for the first time, and the first flight of the new VC-25A, the USAF’s Presidential version of the B-747-200 series, takes place.
1989 The Boeing V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft makes its first flight.

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Boeing VC-25A, operating as Air Force One

The 90s

1990 The Boeing 737 becomes the world’s best-selling jetliner when United Airlines accepts delivery of the 1,832nd 737. The 6,000th Boeing jetliner, a 767, is delivered to Britannia Airways. The formal go-ahead is given for the Boeing 777 jet transport, with an initial order of 34 airplanes and 34 options by United Airlines. The first new VC-25A Presidential transport, a modified Boeing 747-200B, is delivered to the Air Force and President George H.W. Bush.
1991 The Boeing-Sikorsky team wins the contract to build the U.S. Army’s RAH-66 Comanche, a new-generation light helicopter. The YF-22 tactical fighter developed by Lockheed, Boeing and General Dynamics wins an Air Force competition for the next-generation air-superiority fighter. Finally, the 1,010th Boeing 707 rolls out of the Renton, Wash., plant, ending a 35-year-old production line.
1993 The first B-747-400 freighter rolls out. Japan becomes the launch customer for the Boeing 767 AWACS, with an initial order for two aircraft.
1994 The Boeing 777 twinjet, the newest member of the Boeing jet family, rolls out.
1995 Delivery of the first Boeing 777 to United Airlines occurs, and the Boeing 777 becomes the first airplane in aviation history to earn U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval to fly extended-range twin-engine operations (ETOPS) at service entry. Shortly afterwards, the Boeing 777 establishes a new speed record on its flight from Seattle, Wash., to the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget of 9 hours, 2 minutes. Board of directors authorizes production of the Boeing 777-300 stretched variant too. And, the Boeing 767 Freighter makes its first flight.
1996 The Boeing RAH-66 Comanche makes its first flight.

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Boeing 737 NextGen assembly line

1997 The first Next-Generation Boeing 737, a 737-700, makes its first flight. The slightly larger Boeing 737-800 is unveiled outside of the Renton, Wash., assembly plant. Alaska Airlines becomes the launch customer for the Boeing 737-900. A Boeing 777-200 sets a record for flying around the world, eastbound, in 41 hours, 59 minutes. The Boeing F-22 Raptor makes its first flight this year too. And in some of the year’s biggest news, the Boeing Company, along with its North American component, merges with McDonnell Douglas Corp. Phil Condit continues as Boeing chairman and CEO and Harry Stonecipher, former McDonnell Douglas CEO, becomes Boeing president and chief operating officer.
1998 Boeing changes the name of the MD-95 jetliner to the 717-200, and the first 717-200 rolls out at the Douglas Products Division plant in Long Beach, California later in the year. Boeing delivers its first two 767 AWACS to Japan, the Air Force receives its first C-32A, a version of the 757 twin jet for VIP transport, and the 777-300 earns FAA type certification too.
1999 Boeing announces it will sell its light commercial helicopter product lines, including the MD Explorer, the MD 600N and the MD 500 series, to MD Helicopters Inc.
The 767-400ER (extended range) rolls out of the Boeing factory in Everett, Washington, the 737-600 makes its first flight, as well as the 757-300. The last Classic 737 is rolled off the Renton, Wash., assembly line, ending a production run of 1,988 jets. Rollout of the Boeing Business Jet (BBJ), a 737 derivative, occurs, and Boeing Business Jets launches the larger BBJ 2 this year as well.

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Boeing 777-300ER

The new Millennium

2000 The first 737-900 rolls out, and the net total orders for Boeing commercial jetliners pushes above the 15,000 mark.
2001 Boeing delivers the first of four C-17 Globemaster IIIs to the United Kingdom Royal Air Force. The Navy receives their first C-40A Clippers, a military version of the 737-700. And, the Boeing Company begins operations at its new world headquarters building in downtown Chicago, Ill.
2002 Ryanair places an order for 100 Boeing Next-Generation 737-800 airplanes. Boeing delivers the 1,000th 757 twinjet too. The first Project Wedgetail aircraft, a Next-Generation 737-700, rolls off the factory line during a ceremony in Renton, Washington, and the U.S. Air Force notifies Boeing that it has been selected to proceed in negotiations in a tanker-lease program. Boeing proposes the 767 Tanker Transport.
2003 The 777-300ER completes its first flight. Boeing signs a contract with Japan to deliver four 767 Tanker Transports. And the final St. Louis-built AV-8B Harrier II is delivered. The 7E7 is named “Dreamliner” after approximately 500,000 votes are cast in a promotion with AOL Time Warner to name the new aircraft. The board of directors gives the go-ahead to begin offering the 7E7 Dreamliner for sale

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Boeing 757-200

2004 The last 757-300 is delivered, the 500th 777 is rolled out, and with the delivery of a 737-800 to ATA Airlines, Boeing’s Next-Generation 737 family reaches 1,500 deliveries in less time than any other commercial airplane family, only six years after its initial delivery. Boeing marks the completion of its 757 commercial airplane program as the 1,050th and final 757 rolls off the production line. The RAH-66 Comanche program is terminated by the U.S. Army, due to survivability and cost concerns, as well as the “Peace Dividend” – the perceived ending of the Cold War. And, the X-43 Hyper-X research vehicle, designed by Boeing Phantom Works, demonstrates that an air breathing engine can fly at nearly 10 times the speed of sound.
2005 Boeing gives the 7E7 Dreamliner its official model designation number of 787. The first 777-200LR Worldliner, the world’s longest range commercial airplane, is rolled out in Everett, Wash. It can carry 301 passengers up to 9,420 nautical miles. Later, a Worldliner establishes a new world record for nonstop distance by a commercial airplane, flying 11,664 nautical miles in 22 hours, 42 minutes from Hong Kong to London. The Boeing 777 Freighter is launched, following an order from Air France. The Boeing 747-8 program, including the 747-8 Intercontinental passenger airplane and the 747-8 Freighter airplane, is launched with an order of 747-8 Freighters from Cargolux. Total orders for the all-time, best-selling 737 surpass the 6,000 mark, with an order for 10 737-800s from Xiamen Airlines. Boeing ends 2005 having set a new Boeing record for total orders in a single year. Its tally of 1,002 net commercial orders in 2005 surpasses the previous record of 877 set in 1988. Boeing Business Jets offers a larger, third Boeing Business Jet, based on the 737-900ER commercial jetliner. The A160 Hummingbird unmanned rotorcraft makes its first test flight from near Victorville, California. And the first Italian Air Force KC-767A advanced aerial refueling tanker makes its first flight across the Atlantic Ocean to the Paris Air Show 2005.

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Boeing 747-400 LCF

2006 The 5,000th 737 comes off the production line. Boeing delivers the last two of the 156 717 airplanes produced. This marks the end of commercial airplane production in Southern California, started in the 1920s by Donald Douglas. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is featured in a “virtual rollout” at the Everett, Washington, plant and the 737-900ER makes it first flight from the Renton Municipal Airport in Renton, Washington. Boeing starts using a moving assembly line for the first time to build its market-leading 777 jetliner. Boeing launches wide-body VIP airplanes with seven orders for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and 747-8 announced by Boeing Business Jets. 2006 sets another new Boeing record for total commercial orders in a single year. The total of 1,044 net orders surpasses the previous record of 1,002 net orders in 2005. The first 747-400 Large Cargo Freighter (LCF) rolls out of the hangar at Taipei’s Chiang Kai-Shek International Airport. It is the first of four specially modified jets that will be used to transport major assemblies for the all-new Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The first production CH-47F Chinook helicopter is rolled out, it is the first of 452 new CH-47F heavy-transport helicopters in the U.S. Army Cargo Helicopter modernization program… and the Navy’s first EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft rolls out too. The first C-17 Globemaster III for the Royal Australian Air Force completes its maiden flight. The first KC-767 Tanker slated for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force makes its first flight. It will be Japan’s first aerial-refueling platform when delivered in February 2007.
2007 Boeing delivers the 200th T-45C Goshawk to the U.S. Navy. The A160T Hummingbird unmanned rotorcraft makes its first flight, as does the X-48B research aircraft, featuring the Blended Wing Body. The company ends 2007 with 1,413 net commercial airplane orders, setting a Boeing record for total orders in a single year and marking an unprecedented third consecutive year of more than 1,000 orders
2008 Boeing delivers the first of four KC-767 Tankers to Itochu Corp. for Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force. The aircraft is the first aerial refueling tanker in Japan’s history. An international consortium of 10 NATO members, joined by Partnership for Peace nations Sweden and Finland, orders three C-17 Globemaster III long-range cargo jets. Boeing begins final assembly of the first P-8A Poseidon, a derivative of the 737-800, for the U.S. Navy.

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Boeing 777 Freighter

The first 777 Freighter, Boeing’s newest cargo jet, enters a moving assembly line. The freighter is the first derivative to test the new 777 production system. Later in 2008, the first Boeing 777 Freighter makes its first flight. And in another far-reaching event, a finalized agreement to acquire Vought Aircraft Industries’ interest in Global Aeronautica by Boing is concluded. The South Carolina fuselage sub-assembly facility for the 787 Dreamliner becomes a 50-50 joint venture between Boeing and Alenia North America.

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Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet

2009 Boeing delivers the 400th F/A-18E/F Super Hornet to the U.S. Navy, and rolls out the U.S. Navy’s first new P-8A Poseidon. Boeing observes the 45th Anniversary of the CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter’s first flight; 168 of the 624 aircraft originally produced are still in operation with the U.S. Marine Corps. Boeing acquires the business and operations conducted by Vought Aircraft Industries at its South Carolina facility, where it builds key structures for the 787 Dreamliner. And the first 787 Dreamliner makes its first flight from Paine Field in Everett, Wash., under the control of Capt. Mike Carriker and Capt. Randy Neville. Takeoff occurs at 10: 27 a.m. Pacific time.

Air Borne Laser (YAL-1) in flight "near" the moon. Shot from the F-16 chase. Date: March 29, 2007. Photographer: Bobbi Zapka

Boeing YAL-1A with airborne laser installed

The 21st Century Teens

2010 The Boeing 747-8, the third generation of the legendary 747 jetliner family, makes its first flight. In an experiment conducted by Boeing, industry partners and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, the Airborne Laser Testbed, a modified Boeing 747-400F designated the YAL-1A, engaged and destroyed a boosting ballistic missile off the coast of California. In its first flight attempt, the Boeing X-51A WaveRider unmanned aerial vehicle successfully completes the longest supersonic combustion ramjet-powered flight in history—nearly three and a half minutes, at a top speed of Mach 5. The Italian Air Force accepts delivery of its first KC-767A, and Boeing announces that it will offer its NewGen Tanker — a wide-body, multimission aircraft based on the 767 commercial transport — in a competition to supply the U.S. Air Force with multimission aerial refueling aircraft to replace its existing KC-135 fleet.

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Boeing 787 Dreamliner

2011 Boeing submits its final proposal for the U.S. Air Force’s KC-X tanker competition, offering a fleet of Boeing NewGen Tankers — 767-based, multimission aircraft; the U.S. Air Force subsequently awards Boeing the contract. The 1,000th 767 airplane is rolled out at the Everett, Washington factory. The 747-8 Intercontinental successfully completes its first flight, taking off from Paine Field in Everett with 747 Chief Pilot Mark Feuerstein and Capt. Paul Stemer at the controls. The 787 Dreamliner establishes two new world records, completing the longest flight for an airplane in its weight class (440,924 to 551,155 pounds, 200,000 to 250,000 kilograms) with a 10,336-nautical-mile (19,142-kilometer) flight from Seattle to Dhaka, Bangladesh. After refueling in Dhaka, the crew continued eastbound and returned to Seattle 42 hours, 26 minutes after their initial departure completing the fastest around-the-world trip for the same weight class at 470 knots. Boeing and Southwest airlines announce a firm order for 150 737 MAX airplanes. Southwest is the first customer to finalize an order for the 737 MAX and becomes the launch customer for the new-engine variant. And the Boeing Phantom Ray unmanned airborne system successfully completes its first flight at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

Sun Country, Boeing 737-86N (type B738), N819SY, at Pease

Boeing 737-800 Next Generation airliner

2012 Boeing celebrates the completion of the 4,000th Next-Generation 737. At this point, there are more than 5,550 737s of all types in service with 358 airlines in 114 different countries. The Boeing KC-46 Tanker program completes a preliminary design review with the U.S. Air Force. A Boeing test pilot flies the first QF-16 at Cecil Field in Jacksonville, Fla. Boeing is modifying Lockheed Martin F-16 Falcons with specialized hardware and software packages that turn them into a higher performing QF-16 aerial target for the U.S. Air Force. The liquid-hydrogen powered Phantom Eye unmanned airborne system completes its first autonomous flight at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif
2013 Early in the year, smoke is detected onboard a Japan Airlines (JAL) 787 at Boston Logan Airport and traced to the battery used to start the auxiliary power unit. Another incident in Japan leads to the worldwide fleet of 50 in-service airplanes being grounded, and Boeing suspends deliveries of its 787 Dreamliner because of the problems. Weeks later, Boeing gets approval from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of its plan to test and certify improvements to the 787’s battery system. After three months of the fleet-wide grounding, and after modifications are made, Boeing 787s are certified to operate again. Later that year, the first 787-9 Dreamliner rolls out of the Everett, Wash., factory. Boeing rolls out the first 777 to be built at the increased production rate of 8.3 per month; at this time, it takes 48 days to build a 777. A Boeing X-51A WaveRider unmanned hypersonic vehicle achieves the longest air-breathing, scramjet powered hypersonic flight in history, flying for three and a half minutes on scramjet power at a top speed of Mach 5.1. The assembly of the first KC-46A tanker aircraft begins in Everett, Washington, and the 223rd and last U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III is delivered this year.

C-17, Kuwait AF, at Pease

Boeing C-17

2014 Boeing announces the launch of the Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) MAX family of airplanes after receiving the first order from an undisclosed customer. The order is for a BBJ MAX 8, which is based on the 737 MAX 8 and is the newest business jet to join the BBJ family. Boeing delivers the 8,000th 737 to come off the production line. The 737 is the first commercial airplane in history to reach this delivery milestone. Boeing delivers to Lufthansa airlines the 1,500th 747 to come off the production line. Boeing and Qatar Airways finalize an order for 50 777-9Xs, valued at $18.9 billion at list prices. This is the largest product launch in commercial jetliner history to date. The Kuwait Air Force receives their first C-17A, while Boeing and the U.S. Air Force successfully complete the first flight of the KC-46 tanker test program. The plane, a Boeing 767-2C, takes off from Paine Field, Wash., at 9: 29 a.m. (PST) and lands three hours, 32 minutes later at Boeing Field.
2015 The US Air Force deems that the Boeing 747-8 will be the new Presidential aircraft, replacing the 25 year old VC-25As now in service. The VC-25A is a modified B-747-200.

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Boeing 747-8 Freighter

2016 Boeing showcases examples of its 747-8, 787-9, 737MAX, P-8A and F/A-18F and highlights of its first century of business at the 2016 Farnborough International Airshow.

At the end of its first century, Boeing currently manufactures five different commercial airframe models, at least eight different military airframe models which include helicopters and fixed wing aircraft, and a series of unmanned aircraft for different uses. This doesn’t include spacecraft and satellites, among other areas of interest. The company is organized into a pair of organizations, Boeing Commercial Airplanes and Boeing Defense, Space and Security, which is headquartered in Chicago, IL. Over 158,000 people are employed by the company.

Along the way, Boeing has merged with aircraft manufacturers including the Stearman Aircraft Company, North American Aviation and Rockwell International, McDonnell Douglas and Piasecki Helicopters, and the Hughes Aircraft, Space and Communications companies. In the company’s words, it has “A heritage that mirrors the history of flight”. The rich tapestry of Boeing’s past takes up a good-sized portion of aviation history up till today, and what’s next in the future will undoubtedly contain many Boeing contributions when the next milestone is reached years from now.

This is the first of a two-part look at Boeing’s history… the other story will cover highlights of some of the other aircraft manufacturing companies that have become part of the Boeing tapestry over time. Much of this article’s information comes directly from Boeing’s centennial pages… to see much more on the Boeing 100 year story, go to: www.Boeing.com/Boeing100/

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Ken Kula

Assignment and Content Editor, writer and photographer A New Englander all of my life, I've lived in New Hampshire since 1981. My passion for all things aviation began at a very early age, and I coupled this with my interest of photography during college in the late 1970s. I spent 32 years in the air traffic control industry, and concurrently, enjoyed my aviation photography and writing adventures, which continue today. I've been quite fortunate to have been mentored by some generous and gifted individuals. I enjoy contributing to this great site, and working with some very knowledgeable and equally passionate aviation followers.

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