There was history in the air last night, as the first families of aviation gathered to salute Bill Boeing, Jr. on his 90th birthday. The Boeing, Wright, Douglas, and Kindelberger families gathered at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, along with hundreds of invited guests. Members of the McDonnell family, while not physically present, sent well wishes.
More than 250 people gathered at Seattle’s Museum of Flight to celebrate Bill Boeing, Jr.’s 90th birthday. Ed Turner photo.
Bill Boeing, Jr. (left) speaks with Boeing’s Chief Technology Officer John Tracy. Ed Turner photo.
The event also marked the Northwest premiere of the new Hi-Definition production of the Emmy-nominated PBS documentary “Pioneers in Aviation.” A special version of the film was screened, highlighting the Boeing legacy.
During the documentary, the loudest cheers came during a segment that relived the day in 1955 made famous by Boeing test pilot Tex Johnston. He became an aviation legend by putting the 707 jetliner prototype into a 360-degree barrel roll over Lake Washington not once, but twice during the airplane’s first public display.
Image of the famous barrel roll from the Boeing archives.
Like his father who founded Boeing, Bill Boeing, Jr. is a champion for education and advocate for the children who will extend his father’s vision well into the future.
Bill Jr. (middle) with Bill Boeing, Sr. (right) from the Boeing archives.
Bill Jr. speaks with students from Aviation High School. Ed Turner photo.
“Education is the key thing,” Bill Jr. told the crowd last night. “It’s fun to see young people come to places like the Museum of Flight and see their faces light up and know that one day designing, building or flying airplanes might be their job.”
A giant birthday cake with a 787 on top. Ed Turner photo.
Family members celebrate Bill Jr.’s 90th. Ed Turner photo.
The night ended with Bill and his family enjoying a huge birthday cake topped with a 787.
I should also mention that just down the road at Boeing Field last night, we also celebrated the first 787 for Qatar Airways. Oh, what a night indeed.