Aerospace Legacy Foundation

Your portal to America's aerospace history

Aerospace Legacy Foundation (ALF) is a community based non-profit organization (501c3) including aerospace retirees and the public at large. Preserving Southern California's Aerospace and Aviation History including Downey's aerospace legacy.

"There was a definite future in aviation… "
William Boeing 

Image- Boeing Archives

Image- Boeing Archives

Boeing 100 years


William Boeing (Boeing Archives)

William Boeing (Boeing Archives)

"My firm conviction from the start has been that science and hard work can lick what appear to be insurmountable difficulties. I’ve tried to make the men around me feel, as I do, that we are embarked as pioneers upon a new science and industry in which our problems are so new and unusual that it behooves no one to dismiss any novel idea with the statement that it can’t be done." – William Boeing

William Edward Boeing

"William Edward Boeing started his professional life as a lumberman and ended as a real-estate developer and horse breeder, but in between he founded the company that brought forth important breakthroughs in the field of aviation technology and the airline business. The Boeing Airplane Company became one of the signature corporations of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest and dominated the regional economy for most of the twentieth century."

The Red Barn. The original Boeing factory on the shore of Lake Union. Boeing Archives.

Early Years

William Edward Boeing was born on October 1, 1881, in Detroit, Michigan, the first child of William Boeing and Marie Ortmann. Boeing's father, Wilhelm Boing, a veteran of the Austro-Prussian War, emigrated to the United States in 1868 from North Rhine-Westphalia. He carried letters of introduction to German families in Detroit, but no money. After working on a farm, in a lumberyard, and in a hardware store, he was hired by Karl Ortmann, an important local lumberman from Vienna.

Boeing married Ortmann's daughter and, five years later, started his own business. He was soon selling land, timber, and iron ore at huge profits and providing extraordinarily well for his wife, Marie, and two children, William and Caroline. Wilhelm Anglicized his name to William Boeing, built a stately home in Detroit's best neighborhood, acquired the city's finest library of German literature, and, in 1883, helped fund Detroit's first art museum. While in New York on business, Wilhelm Boeing contracted influenza. He died during the long train ride back to Detroit.

His son, William, was 8 years old. Marie Boeing married a Virginia physician and left Detroit. Young William, who did not get along with his stepfather, was sent to several prestigious boarding schools, including the Sellig Brothers School in Vevey, Switzerland -- the same school New York financier J. P. Morgan had attended 30 years earlier. Boeing attended a prep school in Boston to ready him for Yale University. He entered Yale in the engineering department of the Sheffield Scientific School.

After a year shy of completing the three-year program, he dropped out to seek his fortune saying later, "I felt the time was ripe to acquire timber." He decided on Washington state, even though he knew little about business opportunities in the Northwest and even less about timbering in the vast "Evergreen State." America was undergoing growth spurt and the nation demanded lumber for new homes and businesses and ambitious industrialists were reaping millions out of the seemingly limitless stands of cedar, spruce, hemlock, and Doug-fir.

Continued here...


Red Barn factory- Boeing Archives
Boeing Model 247D, shown flying over New York City.

Boeing Model 247D, shown flying over New York City.

Photos- 100 years of Boeing History

As Boeing celebrates its 100-year anniversary, take a look back at some of its most notable aircraft.

July 14, 2016

Fortune Magazine

100 Years of Boeing of Boeing Photos

from the Time Inc. Archives


William Boeing and Eddie Hubbard with Model C.jpg

Aerospace Pioneers

View biographies of the presidents and chief executive officers of Boeing and its heritage companies, such as McDonnell Douglas, North American Aviation, Hughes, Jeppesen and Stearman.

Click here to explore

Boeing's Leaders Through the Years

the Defining Moments of Boeing's Past.

Throughout our centennial celebration, join us as we dive into our vast collection of Boeing artifacts to explore defining moments of our past. Our new series "The Boeing Archives Presents" brings to life our history through the photos, film, documents and relics that preserve our company's journey. Maintained to capture where we've been and influence where we're going, the Boeing Archives is one of the largest collections of its kind anywhere in the world.

Click here to explore "The Boeing Archives Presents Video Series"

100 years of Aviation Week Boeing

100 years of Aviation Week Magazine 1916-2016

Every Issue. Every Article. Every Ad.

William Boeing 1920.

Boeing produced the first 707 passenger jet in May 1954. Boeing Archives.

Boeing produced the first 707 passenger jet in May 1954. Boeing Archives.

Men washing off the “Yankee Clipper” at Langley Field circa 1939 Herbert Gehr—The LIFE Images Collection

Happy 100 Boeing!


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