The first time I remember The Boeing Company was when I was 8 years old, flying on a United Airlines 727 aircraft from Spokane, Wash., to Chicago and then from Chicago to Newark, N.J., in 1983. My mother told me the 727 was built by Boeing. Until then, I thought the 747 was the only aircraft from the company.
Later, I visited Boeing Field for the first time when I was 10 years of age in 1985 (the 727 had already ceased production by then), and I remember seeing a 747 parked nearby that did not have any airline markings but was painted in military-style colors of the American flag. I learned later that 747 was destined to be the presidential aircraft called Air Force One.
My aunt, who lived in Seattle at that time and still does today, told me that Boeing's home was right there in Seattle (until Boeing moved its corporate headquarters to Chicago in 2001). I was amazed that the home of the maker of the 747 was right there in the Pacific Northwest. I lived only a short distance away in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. At first, I thought the planes were assembled right there at Boeing Field, and then I learned later the jets were actually assembled in Everett and Renton.
My uncle signed me up for a membership to the Museum of Flight back in 1989, when I was 14 years old (and I still am a member today), which made me feel closer to Boeing. Once I flew on a United Airlines Boeing 747SP from Seattle nonstop to London in 1994 when United had a large presence at Sea-Tac Airport. I also flew on United 727s and 737s regularly between Spokane and Seattle to visit family in the Seattle area until the airline discontinued the route altogether due to strong competition from Alaska Airlines, and then I would fly on 737s of Southwest Airlines and sometimes Alaska Airlines itself between the two airports in Washington state.
My most recent travels on Boeing aircraft were on a United 737-700 from Burlington, Vt., to Chicago; a United 737-900 featuring split winglets from Chicago to Seattle; an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-400 from Seattle to Ketchikan, Alaska; and an Alaska Airlines 737-400 from Ketchikan to Seattle, all in December; as well as a United 737-700 from Portland, Ore., to Chicago in January.
When I fly Boeing planes for air travel, I'm supporting the thousands of men and women who build these magnificent flying machines so I can travel anywhere my heart desires around the country and around the world. I have yet to fly on a 787 Dreamliner, but it is only a matter of time. It took me about 12 years to fly on a 777 after it first entered service back in 1995, which I did going from Denver to Chicago in 2007. I'm also keeping my fingers crossed that Boeing will develop a new clean-sheet successor aircraft to the 757.