Boeing’s First Century

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On July 15, 2016, the Boeing Company marked its 100th birthday. The aircraft manufacturer’s “Founders Day” event at Boeing Field, Seattle was the high point of a celebration that had been going on all year. Boeing was officially founded on July 15, 1916, a month after the first flight of the Boeing Model 1 single engine bi-plane seaplane known as the B & W. It was designed by William Boeing and U.S. Navy Lt. Conrad Westervelt.

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In part, due to a series of strategic acquisitions of prominent aerospace companies, such as McDonnell Douglas in the 1990s, Boeing has evolved into one of the largest aircraft manufacturers and the second largest defense contractor in the world. Its product line is awesome, building everything from commercial airliners, military bombers, fighters, transporters and tankers to rotorcraft, rockets and satellites. Boeing’s model 737 airliner has incredibly garnered more than 10,000 orders.

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Founders Day at Boeing Field was a celebration of Boeing employees and their work ethic that has positioned the company at the top of its industry. A giant video screen, speaker’s stage and stadium-like bleachers were assembled adjacent to the Museum of Flight for employees and invited guests to join in the historic event. What better place to celebrate than next to the Red Barn where Boeing started out 100 years ago. The Boeing story was visually told on the giant video screen. Overhead, the sounds of vintage aircraft and modern jets could be heard throughout the presentation. One of Boeing’s current projects, the KC-46A Pegasus aerial refueling aircraft took off and was soundly applauded by Boeing employees. Boeing’s Chairman, President and CEO, Dennis Muilenburg, addressed the centennial gathering, thanking the company employees for their hard work. There was a timely arrival of the Boeing Model 40, which taxied in and parked adjacent to the speaker’s platform. The Boeing 40 was built in the 1920s as a mail plane, subsequently becoming a milestone aircraft in that it was the first Boeing airplane to carry passengers.

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Everyone applauded when a video was shown of the Boeing flag being raised on top of the Seattle Space Needle earlier that morning. June Boeing, the wife of the founder’s son, Bill Boeing Jr. was one of the speakers at the event. She spoke of her wonderful marriage and how she thought she was her husband’s first love only to find out after they were married that the Boeing Company was his first love.

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On the ground, Boeing showed off its “7 series” family of commercial airliners. Included was the 707, 717, 727, 737, 747, 757, 767, and 777.

The Boeing Company has a history like no other. In its first century it has taken the world from seaplanes to spaceplanes. As the aerospace leader throttles into its second century, it can be expected to hold its innovative course, not necessarily building a bigger Boeing, but always a better Boeing.


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