The Beginnings: 1903-1926

The Boeing Airplane Co. ... Growing Pains

By 1919, the Boeing Airplane Co. was struggling to stay aloft. It did have a contract to build 25 HS-2Ls, a Curtiss-designed military seaplane or "flying boat." In addition, Boeing also designed, and built, the prototypes for several different types of commercial biplanes, none of which went into production.

William Boeing and pilot Eddie Hubbard deliver the first international airmail in C-700These civilian biplanes did make history, however. Early in 1919, William Boeing and pilot Eddie Hubbard used Boeing's C-700 to carry 60 letters from Vancouver, B.C., to Seattle, delivering the first international airmail. Hubbard then used the B-1 mail plane on the same mail route.

On May 24, 1920, the Boeing BB-L6, the first airplane to fly over Mount Rainier, made its first flight. The company's second international sale was the BB-1 seaplane, sold to a Canadian in 1920.

The company was kept in business by orders from the Army Air Service to build 200 Thomas-Morse MB-3A pursuit fighter biplanes and to modernize 298 British-built de Havilland DH-4 fighter biplanes. It was clear, however, that in order to prosper, the company needed to design, mass produce and sell its own aircraft.

From 1922 through 1925, Edgar Gott, William Boeing's first cousin, was president of the company. While Gott was president, the Navy awarded Boeing a contract to build a primary trainer. The Navy bought 71 NB trainers, and Boeing subsequently sold five more to Peru.

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