This Bird's For You

By Barton Bauers

November 2016

Although I am now retired, in the 1970s I worked for a supplier to the Boeing Minuteman program in Seattle. On occasion, we would travel to Seattle to negotiate pricing, deliveries and the like, and would get to see the Boeing operations. One of the Minuteman people at Boeing asked if we would like to see the facility.

I noted that what I would REALLY like to see is a Boeing 747. He arranged a visit for us to see a brand-new 747 being built for World Airways. We got the full treatment -- a tour inside the plane and the opportunity to sit in the pilot's seat.

Someone from Boeing showed us how the Inertial Navigation System worked and how the internal compass was calibrated with a compass rose painted on the pavement. We got to play pilot for a time and got an inside-out tour of the entire plane -- including the electronics bay under the floor.

What a treat! On that trip, Boeing created some ambassadors for their company -- and to think that a supplier was treated so well! It made us proud to be part of the Boeing "family" and inspired us to recognize Boeing as our most important customer.

In a later endeavor, I worked for a company whose primary customer was Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis. They behaved similarly to Boeing with their suppliers. I like to think that Anheuser is the "Boeing" of brewers, and Boeing is the "Anheuser" of aerospace companies.