Boeing, William Edward

SUBJECT AREA: Aerospace
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b. 1 October 1881 Detroit, Michigan, USA
d. 28 September 1956 USA
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American aircraft designer, creator of one of the most successful aircraft manufacturing companies in the world.
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In 1915 William E.Boeing and his friend Commander Conrad Westervelt decided that they could improve on the aeroplanes then being produced in the United States. Boeing was a prominent Seattle businessman with interests in land and timber, while Westervelt was an officer in the US Navy. They bought a Martin Model T float-plane in order to gain some experience and then produced their own design, the B \& W, which first flew in June 1916. Westervelt was transferred to the East, leaving Boeing to continue the production of the B \& W floatplanes, for which purpose he set up the Pacific Aero Products Company. On 26 April 1917 this became the Boeing Airplane Company, which prospered following the US involvement in the First World War.
In March 1919 Boeing and Edward Hubbard inaugurated the world's first international airmail service between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The Boeing Company then had to face the slump in aircraft manufacturing after the war: they survived, and by 1922 they had started producing a successful series of fighters while continuing to develop their flying-boat and floatplane designs. Boeing set up the Boeing Air Transport Corporation to tender for lucrative airmail contracts and then produced aircraft which could out-perform those of his rivals. The company went from strength to strength and by the end of the 1920s a huge conglomerate had been built up: the United Aircraft and Transport Corporation. They produced an advanced high-speed monoplane mailplane, the model 200 Monomail in 1930, which saw the birth of a new era of Boeing designs.
The Wall Street crash of 1929 and legislation in 1934, which banned any company from both building aeroplanes and running an airline, were setbacks which the Boeing Airplane Company overcame, moving ahead to become world leaders. William E.Boeing decided that it was time he retired, but he returned to work during the Second World War.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
Guggenheim Medal 1934.
Further Reading
C.Chant, 1982, Boeing: The World's Greatest Planemakers, Hadley Wood, England (describes William E.Boeing's part in the founding and building up of the Boeing Company).
P.M.Bowers, 1990, Boeing Aircraft since 1916, 3rd edn, London (covers Boeing's aircraft).
Boeing Company, 1977, Pedigree of Champions: Boeing since 1916, Seattle.
JDS

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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