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The Birth of Boeing

Virtually everyone knows of Boeing, but how many are aware of its history? This geek finds it fascinating.

In 1916, Yale University Alumnus William E. Boeing formed The Boeing Company in Seattle, Washington. Why Seattle? Seattle’s booming wood industry included a wealth of Spruce, a wood deemed to be perfect for manufacturing airplanes.

Interestingly enough, Boeing began his career in the timber industry and, in doing so, became very wealthy. It also afforded him a working knowledge of wooden structures—expertise that would prove invaluable in the construction of novel planes. Boeing opened his first airplane manufacturing facility, Heath’s shipyard on the Duamish River, in March 1910.  He later incorporated the company on 15 July 1916 as the Pacific Aero Product Co.

When Boeing crashed a friend’s seaplane, he learned that replacement parts would take a considerable amount of time to procure. In fact, he and U.S. Navy Engineer George Conrad Westervelt decided they could build an entire plane from scratch in less time—and that’s just what they did.

In June 1916, the first B&W seaplane made its maiden flight—and a second flight followed shortly thereafter. Many of Boeing’s early projects were seaplanes, which are still popular today amongst Seattle pilots given easy access to the vast Puget Sound and surrounding lakes.

Reproduction of the first B&W Seaplane at the Museum of Flight located on Boeing Field

Pacific Aero Products Co. became the Boeing Airplane Company on 9 May 1917. Later that same year, the U.S. became embroiled in World War I. Boeing was certain that Navy pilots would love his new seaplanes, so he shipped two Model C twin pontoon seaplanes powered by Curtiss OX-5 engines to the U.S. Navy in Pensacola, Florida. This simple act proved to be a great business maneuver. U.S. Navy pilots and officials were so impressed with the two Model Cs that they promptly ordered 50 more! This early success was short lived, however.

This geek loves a suspenseful story with twists and turns, and hopes you do, too. Stay tuned for the rest of the story in upcoming blogs!

Mentor.com, Mentor Graphics, Mil-Aero, Seattle, B&W, William H. Boeing, Yale University, Aerospace, Milaero, George Conrad Westervelt, Navy, Mentor, Pacific Aero Product Co., Boeing, Seaplane, Geek

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