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When crews broke ground on Boeing South Carolina's final assembly building in November of 2009, they made a discovery that dates back thousands of years.
"We found sharks' teeth," said Mel Peterson, site services director. "It puts this whole process in perspective."
He said a soils inspector estimated the teeth to be 200-thousand years old. Peterson keeps the five teeth in a plastic bag in his office as a reminder of this plot's past -- it was once the ocean floor. He said it was later a phosphate mine in the 1800s.
Land with a rich history is now the foundation for airplane-making history. The factory was built in 18 months and spans more than 10 football fields. It's the place where all parts of the 787 come together in North Charleston.
"You can see how light, bright, airy, and clean it is," said Todd Eilers, production engineering leader. "This factory has the largest open span of any Boeing building here."
There are eight production positions with support personnel stationed on the sidelines of the airplane, giving immediate help if mechanics have questions.
"It brings people to the product where the support is needed, as opposed to having them in an office somewhere," said Eilers. "That saves a lot of time."
Renewable energy is also a priority in final assembly -- 18,095 solar panels cover the roof. They generate enough energy to power 250 homes a year.
"We're using 100 percent renewable energy on this site," said John Rhodes, systems engineering manager. "We are constantly looking at ways to lessen our impact on the environment.
The panels are made of a thin-film laminate that stick to the roof. The installation is the largest in the Southeast and caps a state-of-the-art facility.
A place where sharks once swam is now home to a sea of solar panels, and the spot from which 787's will soon soar.
"It's amazing to stand back and think what was here just two years ago, and what was here thousands of years ago," said Peterson. "We've come a long way."