William Boeing was 22 years old when Orville and Wilbur Wright flipped a coin to decide who would make that first powered flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C. That same year, Boeing left engineering college at Yale and headed West, where he eventually settled in Seattle. It was there that Boeing and a friend, Conrad Westervelt, a Navy engineer, took a few flights one day in a barnstormer’s biplane over Lake Washington. Afterward, Boeing told his friend he thought they could make a biplane better than any on the market. And so they did, in a boathouse on the shores of Seattle’s Lake Union. The twin-float seaplane was named after their initials — the B & ;W. On July 15, 1916, Boeing incorporated his airplane manufacturing business.
Boeing’s company later grew to include Douglas Aircraft, North American Aviation, McDonnell, Hughes Space and Communications, and others. These “heritage” companies, too, had been founded by aviation and aerospace visionaries. What they all had in common were men and women who helped give wing to aviation and aerospace discoveries that changed the world — even put humans on the moon.
Today, nearly 160,000 people work at The Boeing Company, in offices and factories in more than 60 countries around the world. Regardless of where they work or what they do, whether they are part of design and test or build and support efforts, they are the foundation of the company, its bedrock. This photo essay highlights the work they do across the company and around the globe. Collectively, they enable the company to continue to do amazing things, and carry on that legacy of innovation and excellence into Boeing’s second century.