Posts Tagged ‘aircraft industry’

On October 26, 1958, Pan American World Airways inaugurated the first commercial flight of the Boeing 707.

Unveiling of Boeing's new 707 jet, Renton, 1954. Image courtesy of the Museum of History & Industry, Seattle (MOHAI).

The prototype had been unveiled four years earlier in the spring of 1954, and Pan Am placed an order for twenty planes in the fall of 1955.  After its first commercial flight, the 707 quickly gained popularity.  Its success prompted technological developments in airports, air traffic control, and other aspects of air transport infrastructure throughout the 1960s, and the jet remained in production until 1979.

View from Boeing 707 jet on Pam Am Polar Flight direct from San Francisco to London, 1961. Image courtesy of Indiana University Archives.

The history of transportation is one of the major collection strengths of Opening HistoryKing County Snapshots has many more images from the Boeing Company.  Complementary collections relating to the history of aviation include: the Wright Brothers Negatives, Arizona Aviation History: The Ruth Reinhold Collection, and the Springfield Aviation Company Collection.


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On July 15, 1916, William Boeing and George Conrad Westervelt incorporated Pacific Aero Products (later, Boeing). The airplane company was started in the hangar on the shore of Lake Union in Seattle, Washington, in December of 1915. The first airplane produced at this small factory was B & W seaplane, named after its designers, Boeing and Westervelt. The seaplane, constructed of spruce lumber, steel wire, and linen fabric, made its first successful flight over Lake Union on June 15, 1916. Only two B & W seaplanes were built; both were sold to the New Zealand government to be used for pilot training there.

On the photo below, courtesy of Seattle Historical Society Collection, part of a larger King County Snapshots: A photographic heritage of Seattle and surrounding communities digital collection, men are pulling B & W into Boeing Seaplane Hangar on Lake Union, Seattle, in 1916.

	Men pulling B & W into Boeing Seaplane Hangar on Lake Union, Seattle, 1916

Men pulling B & W into Boeing Seaplane Hangar on Lake Union, Seattle, 1916

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Famous aircraft engineer Igor Sikorsky was born on May 25th 120 years ago, in 1889. Sikorsky developed the first stable, single-rotor, fully-controllable helicopter. In 1942, his Sikorsky R-4 model became the first mass-produced helicopter in the world and the United States Air Force’s first service helicopter. The majority of subsequent helicopters were based upon this model.

The photograph below, titled “Igor Sikorsky and the first successful helicopter built in America, Stratford”, courtesy of Connecticut History Online digital collection, pictures Igor Sikorsky piloting R-4’s predecessor — experimental VS-300 helicopter — in 1940.


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