Boeing Frontiers
November 2003
Volume 02, Issue 07
Top Stories Inside Quick Takes Site Tools
Letters to the Editor
“We must all remember that the actions of only
a few, or even one, can affect the livelihoods
of thousands of other employees.”

—Gordon W. Shaffer, Renton, Wash.

Parents as teachers

August FrontiersIn the September 2003 issue, [Boeing Chairman and CEO] Phil Condit in his My View column (Page 5) makes a cogent argument regarding schools for the information age. What he overlooked is the most formative years are from birth to kindergarten, in which much of the desire for learning can be stimulated by the mother and father interacting with a child. The parental role is critical to creating a thirst for knowledge, and often parents are too busy doing their own thing to care.

Yes, a good teacher can spark the interest in a child, but I found while serving as a custodian in our local school district, during a seven-year layoff from Boeing, that teachers are not as qualified as they used to be. I more than once corrected the spelling and grammar of lessons that a recently college-graduated teacher had written on the chalkboard. The seasoned teachers were better educated and disciplined in their profession.

— Robert Turner, Clinton, Wash.

A lesson remembered

I am disheartened by the myopic and elitist attitude toward non-degreed managers expressed by letter writer Carl Dunn (August 2003, Page 7). He must be unaware that the founders of the very industry that provides his employment, Wilbur and Orville Wright, did not even have high school diplomas when they created the aviation industry.

They were unfettered by such thinking and allowed their true genius and entrepreneurship to hold sway in all their efforts. They had extremely disciplined minds and also knew when to turn away from accepted thinking and try a new direction.

As far as our industry today, a competent manager knows when to hire a person with a degree if he or she feels it is crucial to success of a project, and no amount of formal education can bestow morals, judgment or competence on anyone.

In the mid-1950s, I was designing a special purpose wind tunnel. At the time, I only had rudimentary calculus skills (which I was studying at night school) and was struggling with some complex airflow calculations. My department head came by and must have seen something in my look and asked what my problem was. After I explained myself he took me by the elbow and we went down the hall to a room full of men operating the old mechanical calculators. He pointed in the room and said, “Every one of these guys knows calculus, but not one of them can design a wind tunnel. If you need help, bring the problems here and get back to designing.”

I have never forgotten that lesson.

— Bill Hebestreit, Wofford Heights, Calif.

Ethics matter

Marketing hype appears to have reached new heights in Boeing Commercial Airplanes. In particular, the Sept. 8 issue of Boeing News Now contained an announcement of the third and last in a series of Web-based ethics trainings. How ironic that this notice appears in the midst of yet another ethics-related concern for Boeing: the possible conflict of interest with the U.S. Air Force KC-767 tanker procurement process. To the world looking at Boeing, it may appear a cultural change is required. We must all remember that the actions of only a few, or even one, can affect the livelihoods of thousands of other employees. We must also bear in mind that only the impression, or the potential, for a conflict of interest or a procedural violation may have severe consequences.

The previous ethics training format was changed to the new “Star Trek” look. Boeing was looking for a better way to engage its employees, but I doubt a cartoon is really the appropriate training medium for an issue so critically important to all of us at Boeing. If Boeing wants its employees and the outside world to believe ethics is really a serious issue, then the company—at all levels of management—must engage its employees in meaningful and relevant face-to-face discussions about ethics. The future of the company and our jobs depend on it.

— Gordon W. Shaffer, Renton, Wash.

SPACEHAB’s right touch

I would like to take an opportunity to respond in part to the remarks made by Vernie Erwin in the October 2003 issue (Page 6) regarding the SPACEHAB Program. This is a commercial program, not a government contract. It has always been our documented policy since our initial flight in June 1993 not to wear gloves, unless specific experiment directed, while handling flight hardware.

— Keith Pierce, Cape Canaveral, Fla.

How about parochial schools?

This long-time Boeing employee was proud to read about our company’s education initiatives. However, as a resident of St. Louis, I was equally disappointed to learn just how public-education-centric these initiatives are. How can a strategy that professes to “enable all children to succeed in a technological global society” explicitly ignore students in our private and parochial schools?

In this town, the number of students attending private and parochial schools is significant. The St. Louis Archdiocese is the largest single school district. Our parochial schools have the same needs as public schools and serve the same community of students, economic and otherwise. They, too, have challenges in teacher and school-leader capability, especially in science and math.

Unlike public schools, parochial schools don’t have the benefit of compulsory tuition support in the form of ever increasing property taxes and state and federal grants of every kind. At the same time, the “cost-effectiveness” of parochial education in St. Louis is self-evident. If [Boeing Chairman and CEO] Phil Condit and [Vice President, Community and Education Relations] Toni Bailey really are interested in “knowing the community and educational system” and making the “most impact” with “limited resources,” then St. Louis (at least) requires an education strategy that includes our private and parochial schools.

— Bob Dowgwillo, St. Louis, Mo.

Stratoliner’s special meaning

StratolinerWhat a thrill it was for me to read Ellen Whitford’s “Once More With Feeling” about the Boeing 307 Stratoliner (September 2003, page 22). I always enjoy Frontiers, but this article has special meaning for me.

In 1943, I was a Pan American Airways Flight Radio Officer based in Miami. I had the privilege of flying several trips on the Flying Cloud, as well as the Rainbow and Comet. I had been flying on Army, Navy, and Royal Air Force navigation training flights, as well as Pan Am commercial routes throughout the 1940s. In 1943, the Stratoliners were used on flights from Miami to Balboa, Canal Zone, via Kingston, Jamaica.

The Boeing 307 was my favorite of the airliners we flew because in addition to the sumptuous passenger accommodations, it had a magnificent flight deck. No other contemporary aircraft could begin to match its spacious crew area and state-of-the-art equipment and instrumentation.

— Paul I. Waite, Viera, Fla.

Wear the right Cape

Here’s a comment to an error in the caption of the Saturn V Apollo photograph on Page 8 of the September 2003 edition.

In November 1963, President Lyndon Johnson announced that Cape Canaveral would be renamed Cape Kennedy in memory of President John F. Kennedy and that the NASA Launch Operations Center on Merritt Island would be renamed the John F. Kennedy Space Center. The Air Force subsequently changed the name of the Cape Canaveral Missile Test Annex to Cape Kennedy Air Force Station in January 1964.

Ten years later, Florida Governor Reubin Askew signed a statute requiring that Cape Kennedy be renamed Cape Canaveral. The U.S. Board of Geographic Names agreed to restore the name of Cape Canaveral and retain the NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center designation. The Air Force then changed the name of their launch site to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The caption below the photo on Page 8 states that the rocket lifts off from Cape Kennedy, Fla. The only Apollo mission ever flown from Cape Kennedy was Apollo 7 on a Saturn I vehicle. It was launched on Oct. 11, 1968, and was the last manned mission from the Cape. There has never been a launch of a Saturn V Apollo from Cape Kennedy.

— Herman J. May, Titusville, Fla.

Letters guidelines

Boeing Frontiers provides the letters page for readers to state their opinions. The page is intended to encourage an exchange of ideas and information that stimulates dialogue on issues or events in the company or the aerospace industry. The opinions may not necessarily reflect those of The Boeing Company. Letters must include name, organization and a telephone number for verification purposes. Frontiers may edit letters for grammar, syntax and size.

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