In 1903, two events launched the history of modern aviation. The
Wright brothers made their first flight at Kitty Hawk, North
Carolina, and William Boeing, born Oct. 1, 1881, in Detroit,
Michigan, left Yale engineering college for the West Coast.
After making his fortune trading forest lands around Grays Harbor,
Washington, Boeing moved to Seattle in 1908 and, two years later,
went to Los Angeles for the first American air meet. Boeing tried to
get a ride in one of the airplanes, but not one of the dozen
aviators participating in the event would oblige. Boeing came back
to Seattle disappointed, but determined to learn more about this new
science of aviation.
For the next five years, Boeing's air travel was mostly theoretical,
explored during conversations at Seattle's University Club with
George Conrad Westervelt, a Navy engineer who had taken several
aeronautics courses from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The two checked out biplane construction and were passengers on an
early Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company-designed biplane that
required the pilot and passenger to sit on the wing. Westervelt
later wrote that he "could never find any definite answer as to why
it held together." Both were convinced they could build a biplane
better than any on the market.
In the autumn of 1915, Boeing returned to California to take flying
lessons from another aviation pioneer, Glenn Martin. Before leaving,
he asked Westervelt to start designing a new, more practical
airplane. Construction of the twin-float seaplane began in Boeing's
boathouse, and they named it the B & W, after their initials.
William E. Boeing
Company Founder and Owner, President, Chairman of the Board -
William E. Boeing left Yale University in 1903 to take advantage of
opportunities in the risky and cyclical, but financially rewarding,
Northwest timber industry. That experience would serve him well in
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