Boeing employee takes the helm of a hydro during Seafair

Blue Angels soar through the sky as hydroplanes race down the straightaway celebrating the 70th anniversary of Boeing and Seafair's partnership

August 07, 2019 in Our Community

As the iconic roar of hydroplane engines revved up during Seafair weekend, Boeing employees had one more reason to cheer during the iconic Seattle festival. One of the super-sleek racing boats had a familiar face at the helm: Renton 737 Wings employee, Jeff Bernard.

Bernard has been a hydroplane racer for 26 years, most recently as an H1 Unlimited driver of the Oberto Super Salami. He says Seafair is one of the biggest racing weekends on the hydro circuit.

“Seafair has become a lot more special for me now that I live out here.” Bernard said, “I have co-workers, family and friends that come down here.”

This summer Seafair is celebrating its 70th anniversary, and Boeing has been a proud sponsor since the beginning. Boeing’s role is multi-faceted, with the excitement starting during the iconic Torchlight Parade at the end of July. Before the parade, Boeing sponsors the Military Hospitality Room, where different branches of the US Military can change into their uniforms, put down their flags and instruments, and get a bite to eat in preparation of the celebrations.

Then, during the parade, members of the Boeing Veteran Engagement Team (BVET) proudly guided the Blue Angels balloon through downtown Seattle streets and handed out toy hydroplanes.

"It makes me feel so honored and patriotic. It's an honor to represent both my company and my country at the same time." said Rebekah Johanson, a P-8 Sr. program planner and a BVET member. “I'm proud Boeing does this.”

The fun only escalates during Seafair Weekend.

Looking high into the sky, the Boeing Seafair Air Show proudly featured the ecoDemonstrator 777, which flew on a blend of sustainable and conventional aviation fuel.

The ecoDemonstrator program accelerates innovation by testing promising technologies that enhance safety and sustainability to benefit operators, passengers and the environment.

“It is very special to be able to see what we work on every day in the office and be able to share it with the community and show what we’re doing for sustainable aviation” said Christin Datz, an employee on the Environmental Performance Team.

Inside bustling Genesee Park, the heart of the Seafair festival, Boeing highlights its local STEM investments and partnerships at the FIRST Robotics tent, where kids eagerly gathered with broad smiles on their faces to interact with robots FIRST teams have built with their Boeing mentors.

“When I see these kids sitting here, I think that’s the future” said Darin Gee, an Integrated Planning and Scheduling P-8 Integrator and Boeing FIRST Robotics mentor.

A few paces away, veterans and military families were treated to waterfront viewing and refreshments in the Military Hospitality Tent presented by Boeing in partnership with USO Northwest.

All Boeing employees are able to enter the festival for free.

Back in the pit, Bernard suits up and his crew gets the hydroplane ready for the races.

“Seafair is more than just this weekend” Bernard says, “Without Boeing, I don’t know what Seafair would be.”

Head over to @BoeingWA on Twitter to check out more behind the scenes of Seafair Weekend fun.

By Tanya Nguyen