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When Dale Danitschek bucked rivets to join the forward fuselage of the 1000th Boeing 767, he not only helped usher the twin-aisle airplane into aviation history.
The young Boeing mechanic also extended a family legacy.
"The fact that I can build the word's best airplanes on the same line my family has is amazing," he said.
Dale is the third generation of Danitscheks to work on the Boeing 767, each imparting their special skills, from engineering to design to manufacturing. Their story parallels the rangy and reliable airplane's past, present and future.
"It's cost-effective, it's consistently built. Customers love the airplane and want more of it," Dale Danitschek said.
"It is a good, solid, steady airplane. It does the job for the customer," Andy Danitschek, Boeing designer
Dale's grandfather, Jurgen Danitschek, a retired Boeing engineer, helped design the 767's vertical and horizontal stabilizers before the airplane even had a name.
"When we started, we had "V" tails, we had "T" tails...until it finally gelled into an airplane and then we gave it [the] 767 name," Jurgen Danitschek recalled. "We cried when that airplane flew. That was very special for us because it took a long time in the making."
Dale's father, Andy Danitschek, works in the drafting department designing the airplane's cargo system.
"I've worked on them all: there's the original 200, the 300ER (extended range), the 400ER, the two versions of the freighter. So I've touched all of them in one way or another," said Andy Danitschek.
All those versions have proven their worth over the years, earning the 767 a reputation for performance and reliability on medium to long-range flights. That track record has earned the 767 program 1,044 orders to date from airlines around the world.
And as Dale Danitschek starts to build airplanes 1001 and 1002, the potential exists for even more orders.
Boeing is updating the twin-engine 767 with the latest technology - including the most advanced digital flight deck and a new fly-by-wire boom - to offer the U.S. government the NewGen Tanker, a multi-mission aerial refueling aircraft capable of meeting the Air Force's needs to transport fuel, cargo, passengers and patients.
Dale Danitschek sees a future for himself and the 767.
"I'm learning," he said. "Every day here, I'm learning something new."
While Jurgen Danitschek is proud of what his son and grandson have accomplished, he takes greater pride in the achievements of his extended Boeing family.
"Airplanes make the world much smaller. So bringing people together, for me, that's the essence of Boeing!"