For the first 22 years of my life, a Boeing airplane was just a way to get from here to there, either on a 707, a 727 or that cool little 737. Upon graduation from ROTC and college, the USAF sent me to Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., to be a depot level systems and structural engineer in the missing number -- the 717 -- or as the rest of the world knows it, the KC-135.
For the following 11 years, first as an Air Force lieutenant, then as a GS-12 civilian, I crawled in, around, under and through every nook, cranny and fuel cell on a lot of C and KC 135s.
I've investigated mishaps from Cairo, Egypt, to Honolulu, Hawaii. With every dig into the airplane, I'd come back with more respect and admiration for the men and women that designed and built those amazing airplanes -- the reason why most of them are still flying 60 years later.
My most memorable moment was watching a floor panel be pulled up to facilitate a modification. On the pressure web below, there was a Boeing inspection stamp dated April 12, 1957, my SECOND birthday.
I went on to buy a little more Boeing, as the Air Force Logistics Command Systems safety officer for the acquisition of the VC-25 aircraft, which is used as "Air Force One" when the president is onboard.
Happy Birthday, Boeing Company, and the people who give it life.