The Boeing Company was struggling after World War I, but Founder William Boeing and his management team pressed on, encouraging and funding the proactive research and development of many different commercial biplane designs. As it turns out, none of the new biplane designs ever made it into production. Not to be dissuaded by this unfortunate fact, Boeing continued to innovate and make history.
On 3 March 1919, Pilot Eddie Hibbard and Boeing carried 60 letters from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Seattle, Washington, aboard the Boeing C-700. (Fun fact: The last U.S. Navy plane Boeing produced for WWI carried the serial number 699.) This trip by Hibbard and Boeing went down in history as the first international airmail delivery!
The Boeing Company continued along this delivery route, but not in the Boeing C-700. The now-famous Boeing B-1 mail plane was the aircraft of choice for the job.
The Boeing B-1 was a truly an innovative aircraft for the day. It sported a mono-hull design with a rear-facing engine and propeller. At the time, these types of planes were known as “pusher-style” flying boats.
The B-1 made its maiden voyage on 27 December 1919. It carried a pilot, two passengers, and mail cargo. Hubbard piloted this plane to deliver international mail between Vancouver, B.C., and Seattle. The hull of the plane was constructed of a wood laminate veneer, and the wings were created from plywood and spruce. This geek wonders how many of us would board a wood plane today. Would you climb aboard?