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The Boeing Story: 1916-1958

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The Boeing Story: 1916-1958

Explore the in depth history of The Boeing Company from the turbulent formative years through its emergence as a dominant global giant at the dawn of the Jet Age.

The first floor focuses on William
E. Boeing and the first two pioneering decades of the Boeing Airplane Company. Highlights include the famous mail bag carried in 1919 by Boeing and Eddie Hubbard during the first international U.S. Air Mail flight from Vancouver, B.C., to Seattle; a small wooden fragment—and the only piece known to exist—of one of Boeing’s first two aircraft; and some of the earliest company ledgers, highlighting Boeing’s hiring in 1916 of Chinese-born Wong Tsu, one of the few degreed aeronautical engineers in the country.

In addition, a large portion of the first floor has been returned to its original status as a factory shop floor. Surrounding re-created fuselages of Model C and Model 40 aircraft are the tools of the trade for airplane building in the early twentieth century.

The exhibit continues upstairs with the company’s shift from creating small, relatively simple wooden planes to constructing complex, multi-engine behemoths. The exhibit draws on never-before displayed artifacts and photographs to examine topics including the luxurious pre-war Clipper flying boat, wartime Seattle and Boeing’s round-the-clock production efforts, women in the workforce and the genesis of the 707 jetliner.

Aircraft blueprints, tall work tables and stories detailing specific engineers return the old drafting room to its roots. The office of early Boeing chief engineer Claire Egtvedt now includes special certificates and a display case of his personal items. Exhibits in the large main room concentrate on Boeing’s involvement in World War II, the Cold War and the civilian jet age.

Concluding the exhibit is the story of the 707, arguably history’s first truly successful jetliner. The 707 marked Boeing’s arrival as a leader in the civilian Jet Age and set the company’s course for the next forty years.