The Early Years: 1927-1938

The Boeing Airplane Co. ... Building Bigger

We (the pressurization team), the flight crew, and the rest of the development team on the ground shook hands all around and congratulated each other. It was a solemn occasion. We knew we had made history.
-- James Cooper, Chief Boeing mechanical engineering after the pressurized Model 307 Stratoliner made its successful first flight, June 1939

The new Boeing President Claire Egtvedt believed in the future of large airplanes. As a result, in 1934, after the Army Air Corps asked for designs of a very heavy, long-range experimental bomber, Boeing engineers developed the XB-15, a four-engine aircraft with a wingspan of 149 feet. At the same time, they began the four-engine Model 299, prototype for the B-17 Flying Fortress bomber that would fill the skies during World War II.

Model 314 Clipper dining salon The big bombers' features were incorporated in the four-engine Model 314 Clipper, a luxurious flying boat that would make the first scheduled transatlantic airplane flight, and in the commercial Model 307 Stratoliner, the first pressurized airliner. The Clippers and the Stratoliners attracted air travelers around the world. Air travel became popular. During 1940, more than 2.2 million people flew 150 million air miles, but the world was at war.

That year the British government helped finance expansion at Boeing's Seattle, Wash., Plant 2 to build Douglas DB-7 attack bombers, and the U.S. government helped expand Boeing's Wichita, Kan., Plant II to further production of the Stearman Kaydet PT-13/-17 trainers.

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