We are family

Talk about a family affair! Boeing hosted a Hollywood-like affair earlier this week for descendants and close relatives of America’s visionary aviation leaders. Held in Washington, D.C., the gala evening was the first time “the first families of aviation” were ever gathered together in one place with names such as Boeing, Douglas, McDonnell, Kindelberger and Wright.


Guests gather at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. to view the documentary. A large screen overhead highlights key achievements in aviation history and banners commemorating each “founding family of aviation” donned the facility.

It was all to celebrate the premiere of an acclaimed PBS documentary series written and directed by William Winship and called “Pioneers in Aviation: The Race to the Moon.” A previous version of the Emmy-nominated series was recognized as being the definitive treatment of the rise of aviation in America. The all-new version, soon to air on more than 275 public television stations in the United States, is being released in high definition and includes unseen footage found in archives.


William Winship, writer and director of Pioneers in Aviation, speaks to the crowd.

The film spans the first flight of the Wright Brothers and the development of biplanes to the emergence of jets and the conquest of space. And the film served as the platform for gathering together the legendary aviation families who accomplished such feats. An evening to be remembered, for sure. In addition to the photos, we’ve also posted a video from this special night.


Descendants of Orville and Wilber Wright, William Boeing, James Kindelberger, James McDonnell, and Donald Douglas gathered for the first time. Among them were (all on front row) James and Malcolm Douglas (first and second from the left), Gretchen Boeing-Davidson (fifth from the left), Amanda Wright-Lane (seventh from the left), James Kindelberger Graham (eight from the left), and John McDonnell (11th from the left).

Comments (7)

maria de fátima fornazari (catanduva, estado de são paulo, Brasil):

My respects and greetings to aviation entrepreneurs and their families who believed in their dreams and inventors initial emphasis on the Brazilian Santos Dumond - Father of Aviation. "All the feelings of friendship in relation to others are an extension of the feelings of friendship that a person has in relation to herself" - Aristóteles.Como inventor say that "when the winds of change blow, some people raise barriers and others build windmills wind "I already have the design of the invention to support aircraft in the atmosphere, in the case of breakdowns and accidents, a system that prevents the crash and also the creation of aircraft - towing to accomplish rescue of persons in the air and also the plane. Seeking to develop technical partnership patent. The dream never stops, continues traveling from generation to generation! Cheers

Dave Monahan (Canandaigua, NY):

Mr. Winship has by far set the bar with this wonderful piece of aviation history. One can only thank him for his bringing to the public, this masterful documentation.

Bob Harvey (Seattle, WA, USA):

Great idea for even bigger endeavors. But, I missed someone. Where we're Nicole and family?

Norman (Long Beach, CA):

Donald Douglas at only 25 years of age managing and organizing US aviation manufacturing, almost a kid in todays terms the weight of the democratic world practically rested on his shoulders and 50,000 planes a year, building at the same frequency that a subway train stops per one station, these are powerful feats. The great thing about aviation is, it is continually evolving, massive fighter jet production just after the second world war, the overtaking of trans-Atlantic passenger liners in 1958 and middle class common air travel in the seventies thanks to the 747, DC-10, L-1011 and even the A300. Looking into the eighties, we see the development for efficient airliners and the study and progression for stealth aircraft for the military. In the second world war, most people could not have imagined the progress of aircraft development just in the the first few years after the war and who knows what aviation will looks like 65 years from now, one could only imagine.

Cristiano Arruda (Campo Grande, MS, Brazil.):

I am sou proud to see those comments here. And for sure I am really proud to see the members of the Aviation-Family of America standing together for that heritage photo. A monumental moment for the humankind.

Whenever I hear the surnames McDonnell and Douglas, it is like being in a space ship 200 years ahead of our time. And when I hear the name Boeing I have two images in mind at first: 737 and 747. Of course the 727 is the most surreal aircraft in terms of concept and beauty. There is a style line standard ranging from the 707 through the 777 that impacts me so greatly.

James McDonnell (phoenix az united states):

My grandfather always told me that i was related to McDonnell Douglas .I wish i could know if it is true that i related and part of a beautiful family ..

J. L. Woody Wooden (Cody, Wyoming):

I just wanted to say "Hi" to Gretchen.. Lost track of her after we finished Brooks Institute Of Photography. I hope all is well with her and her family. Woody

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