Chairman and CEO
The Boeing Company
"Footprints in the Sky"
World Headquarters Opening Remarks
September 05, 2001
Governor Ryan, Mayor Daley, honored guests, Boeing teammates. I am absolutely excited and delighted to call Chicago, one of the truly great transportation hubs of the world, the home of Boeing World Headquarters.
This is a great company. And many of us here are part of a great history--one that has opened many frontiers, frontiers that have shaped the world we know today. We are part of a great company that had amazing founders who advanced flight in the 20th century. Pioneers who left their footprints in the sky!
Whether it was Bill Boeing on the shores of Lake Union or in the Red Barn in Seattle, or Don Douglas in the back room of a barber shop or an abandoned film studio in Southern California, or James McDonnell in a Milwaukee plane factory or at Lambert Field in St. Louis, or "Dutch" Kindelberger in Maryland or in a little plant near the L.A. Municipal Airport, or Howard Hughes in a hangar in L.A. or in the Spruce Goose in Long Beach harbor...
Whether it was Elrey Jeppesen, who charted the first aerial maps for pilots, or architect Lloyd Stearman with his biplane design in Wichita, Kansas, or Frank Piasecki building a helicopter in a rented garage in Philadelphia, or Geoffrey De Havilland on the meadows of Seven Barrows near London....
It's the combined efforts of these visionaries that built The Boeing Company, a $60 billion corporation, with two magnificent assets -- a great global brand and the enormous intellectual capital of our people. We are part of a great company that dared to dream and make the impossible happen.
We dreamed of expanding air mail routes into passenger travel, so in 1927 reporter Jane Eads of Chicago was the first commercial passenger to fly Boeing's airmail route from Chicago to San Francisco. We dreamed of going higher, faster, and farther, so we built the DC-3 and the 707, the DC-8 and the 747, the 777 and the Boeing Business Jet, and soon the Sonic Cruiser.
We dreamed of producing a great, fast fighter, so we built the P-51 Mustang, conceived and flown in just 76 days, the F-4 Phantom, F-86 Sabre, F-15 Eagle, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, and, soon, the JSF.
We dreamed of serving our country with the best military aircraft, so we built the B-17 and the C-17, the B-52 and the KC-135, the "Flying Banana" and the Apache and Comanche.
We dreamed of exploring space, so we built every manned spacecraft in U.S. history -- Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, and the Shuttle -- and helped put a new star in the sky with the Space Station.
We dreamed of revolutionizing precision navigation, so we built the first 40 Global Positioning System satellites and now are at work on the next generation.
We dreamed of blanketing the planet with continuous radio and television coverage, so we built geostationary satellites that have changed the face of our planet and global communications.
Because we dared to dream, dared to work hard, we have turned dreams into realities, to leave some huge footprints on every aerospace frontier. Now it is time to create some new footprints!
We belong to a company that has amazing talent. We have 198,000 people in 62 countries. People who work hard every day, who yearn to learn, who hold over 100,000 college degrees, with 64,000 of those in the sciences. Last year almost 30,000 of our Boeing people took advantage of the company's Learning Together program, a program that pays for classes at any accredited college or university. When an employee earns a degree they get an extra reward of Boeing stock, and 2,000 of our people earned that last year.
Today, Boeing people from many different places are already making new footprints, turning ideas into realities, whether it is a new patent or a breakthrough technology, a new business initiative or a better production process.
People are always a little worried when there is significant change, but our new World Headquarters gives us a launch pad to dream anew, to create our own set of footprints in the sky, and open up some more frontiers in a rapidly changing, mobile world.
So if you take all that we are -- our history, our successes, our people, our communities -- you will know that we are part of something special, an amazing industry in an amazing time. As a company, we defined most of what flew in the 20th century, and left footprints in the sky. Now it is time to dream some more, to define what will fly in the 21st century, and leave some more footprints.
I want to close with a personal story. Thirty-two years ago this summer, I sat in front of a television with my baby daughter. We were waiting and watching for Neil Armstrong to get out of the Eagle spacecraft, to be the first person to walk on the moon. I remember watching as he bounced off the ladder onto the Sea of Tranquility. I remember the wonderful photograph of a rugged boot-print in the lunar soil. That footprint on the lunar landscape is a powerful reminder of what can happen if we allow ourselves to dream, to work as a team to accomplish impossible goals.
So tonight, watch the moon rise over Lake Michigan, as I did last night, and dream of what can be. Put your own footprint in the sky, open a new frontier, do the impossible.