Washington State: A Century of Know-How

The global aerospace leader.

Washington State has been a hotbed of aviation and space for more than 100 years. From Charles K. Hamilton’s first flight in 1910 to the rollout of the first composite passenger aircraft, the Boeing Dreamliner, the state has led the nation and the world in aerospace. ;xNLx;;xNLx;Washington aerospace companies produce more than 1,400 commercial aircraft, military jets and unmanned aerial systems. Boeing jets pour from factories throughout the state, including 737s, 767s, 747s, 777s and the 787.;xNLx; ;xNLx;While our aviation history is closely tied to this legendary company, we are hardly a one hit wonder. There are 1,400 aerospace-related companies in Washington State, employing 136,000+ workers. These companies produce components, parts and products for the global market, from giant machines that craft the wing panels of Airbus jets to the retro rockets that allowed Curiosity to touch down lightly on the surface of Mars. And they are always on the lookout for new partners and new partnerships with other aerospace firms.;xNLx;

1909-06-10 11:43:28

Lighter Than Air

The dawn of the aviation age in Washington State. J.C. Mars demonstrates his gas-powered dirigible above the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition fairgrounds. Really bold adventurers could plunk down $1 (about $25 today) for the thrill of going aloft in a tethered balloon to get a bird’s eye view of the fairgrounds.

1910-03-11 17:58:25

The First to Fly... And Crash

The first powered flight sends Charles K. Hamilton above the Meadows Race Track, captivating throngs of spectators. Two days later, he crashes his Curtiss Reims Racer in a pond, earning the dubious honor of having the first flight and first crash in Washington State.

1915-07-04 11:43:28

A timber baron builds a business legend

Timber baron William E. Boeing and friend Lt. Col. Conrad Westervelt experience their first flight aboard a two-seater floatplane on Lake Washington. The pair take turns in the passenger seat of the Curtiss airplane as it skips across the water and lumbers uneasily into the sky.

1916-06-15 09:41:06

The B&W takes shape

Frustrated that he couldn’t get replacement parts for his Martin seaplane, William Boeing decides to build his own, enlisting the help of Conrad Westervelt and Herb Munter. The new B&W planes are dubbed Bluebill and Mallard. Boeing pilots the first test flight, taking off from Lake Union on July 15.

1916-07-15 01:05:24

Pacific Aero Products

Pacific Aero Products is incorporated by William Boeing, engaging the firm in “a general manufacturing business and to manufacture goods, wares and merchandise of every kind, especially to manufacture aeroplanes… and all patterns thereof.”

1917-05-09 12:04:40

War Orders Pour In

The name Pacific Aero Products is short-lived. The company changes its name to the now familiar Boeing Airplane Company in 1917. It is the height of World War I and the company is flooded with orders for the Model C flying boat from the Navy. The plane is designed by Boeing’s first engineer, Wong Tsu. He is paid $50.77 for his services before returning to China to start the first airplane factory there.

1918-11-11 16:29:41

The War to End All Wars Ends

When Armistice Day comes orders for Boeing planes dry up virtually overnight and the company falls on hard times. The 28 workers at the company – pilots, carpenters, engineers and seamstresses – are tasked with building dressers, counters and furniture for a corset shop as well as flat-bottomed boats called sea sleds. At one point Boeing himself covers the $700 a month payroll by guaranteeing a loan with his own money.

1919-03-03 21:46:11

International Air Mail

Eddie Hubbard and William Boeing make history, completing the first international airmail flight between Seattle and Vancouver B.C. in the Model C.

1920-01-01 08:04:48

Lucrative Airmail Routes Shape Aviation in State

To keep the company afloat after the end of WW I, pioneer pilot Eddie Hubbard convinces Boeing to go after the lucrative airmail routes. The B-1 flying boat goes on to log more than 350,000 air miles during its career, shuttling mail, cargo and passengers between Seattle, Washington and Victoria, Canada for eight years.

1924-04-06 18:47:08

First Circumnavigation of the World

Four specially outfitted World Cruisers leave Seattle on a 175-day flight around the world, the first circumnavigation of the globe by air. Covering 21 countries and 25 U.S. states, the flight paves the way for international air travel.

Washington State: A Century of Know-How

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