SEATTLE — Boeing kicked a three-day celebration to mark its first 100 years on Friday at Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington. The festivities are being held on the grounds of the Museum of Flight and are for Boeing Employees, retirees, their families and special guests only. Airways was on hand for the special occasion.

Early Friday morning, Boeing employees rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange, while in Seattle, a Boeing 100 Years flag was hoisted on top of Seattle’s Space Needle. The celebration officially began at noon, with flyovers by the new KC-46 Tanker, and historic 40C biplane, accompanied by enthusiastic cheers from the audience.

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg opened the celebration with remarks, “The innovative spirit of our founder Bill Boeing — who 100 years ago today dedicated this company to building something better — is alive in the generations of our people who continue to deliver products and services that matter and positively change lives around the world. As we embark on our second century, our commitment to excellence is stronger than ever, our potential for achievement is as great as it was for our founders, and our goals must be even more bold, visionary and inspiring.”

Danie Muilenburg, Boeing CEO. (Credits: Brandon Farris)
Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing CEO. (Credits: Brandon Farris)

An underlying theme was present throughout the event, in addition to celebrating Boeing’s first century, and that was Boeing’s sense of purpose as a company. There can be no argument about the fact that Boeing has changed the world by making it possible for people to connect between any two points on the globe, in under a day’s time.

Boeing also serves the world by making it a safer place, with its many defense and security products. Muilenburg said, “Few companies have achieved what we have, from walking on the earth, to walking on the moon. Today we’ll celebrate that legacy together, while imagining what comes next.”

Employees from many families have worked for Boeing for three generations. Boeing CEO Defense, Space and Security Leanne Caret said it was her mom, also a Boeing employee, who “helped me understand we all have something unique and special to offer when we support one another.”

Leanne Caret, Boeing Defense, Space and Security CEO. (Credits: Brandon Farris)
Leanne Caret, Boeing Defense, Space and Security CEO. (Credits: Brandon Farris)

As a child, Leanne’s family moved around the country for various positions within Boeing, and said each site felt like home. It is part of the culture of the Boeing Company. “We carry on this legacy because what we do matters in people’s lives. It matters in our customers’ lives. We connect and protect and inspire and explore around the globe. We build bridges across nations, and across families and generations.”

Another example of this is a Boeing intern, Olivia Schiffer, whose grandfather had built B-17s, followed by her Father who works on the P-8 Poseidon. Olivia told the audience that she has wanted to work for Boeing since the time her dad took her to Family Day at Boeing Field when she was four years old.

Another employee, Mawut Mayen is a Manufacturing Manager with the 777 program who said he was one the Lost Boys of Sudan. He was orphaned at age four, then made it to the U.S. at age 15 by being chosen through a lottery system and placed with a local family.

In American schools, Mayen learned English and first heard about Boeing while living in Lynwood, Washington and had a lot of friends whose families worked for Boeing, seeing how Boeing helps people make better lives for themselves. He went on to get a Bachelor’s Degree at Embry-Riddle, and a Master’s Degree at Washington State before joining Boeing.

Mawut Mayen, Boeing 777 Program Manufacturing Manager. (Credits: Brandon Farris)
Mawut Mayen, Boeing 777 Program Manufacturing Manager. (Credits: Brandon Farris)

Mayen credits Boeing for making it possible to return to Sudan and reunite with his family, and says that now people in that remote part of the world now know about Boeings because of him.

In Muilenburg’s closing, he said, “It’s about our people, the amazing innovation they bring to work every day. The talent, and passion of what we do. That excitement for the future of aerospace is contagious, and it’s important. Because as we celebrate 100 years of business, we not only look back to our founders’ legacy, we simultaneously look ahead to a new century of opportunity of how we can continue building a bigger, better Boeing. Today, at the start of our second century, it is our turn to imagine what comes next and bring it to life… Our potential for achievement is as great as it was for our founders, but to realize all of the opportunities ahead of us, our goals must be even more bold, even more visionary, even more inspired.”

Muilenberg also spoke to reporters following the celebration, saying that Boeing could be considered stronger now than at any point in its history, with a backlog of 5,700 aircraft yet to be built. Over the long term, the company aims to “sharpen and accelerate” its innovation and manufacturing processes.

One example of that would be the new robotic fuselage joining process on the 777. He also expects more 3D printing and additive manufacturing to be incorporated. “We have to continue to invest in innovation,” he said.

He did hint at a timeline for the so-called Middle of the Market aircraft, which would fill the 737 to 787 product gap, saying, “If it’s an all new airplane, we think that would probably be in the 2024-2025 time frame in terms of when it would be introduced into service. With those dates only being eight to nine years away, one could easily make the assumption that something is already in the works. It took about six years to develop and produce the 737 MAX and that was based on a 40+ year-old design.

Just outside of the fence, on a taxiway in front of the Museum of Flight, Boeing had parked an example of each commercial jet model they’ve produced, including an Omega Air Tanker 707, a Delta Air Lines 717, a United Airlines 727 (the first one ever built), an Alaska Airlines 737-800 (with a special Boeing 100 Years livery), a Cathay Pacific Cargo 747-8F, a United Airlines 757, a FedEx 767 Freighter, an Emirates 777, and an ANA 787-9 Dreamliner, which had just flown back from the Farnborough Airshow.

Meeting Boeing’s “7 Series” Centennial Lineup Aircraft

A couple of examples from Boeing’s heritage companies were also present, including a North American P-51 Mustang, and a Pan Am Douglas DC-3.

This Douglas DC-3 wears the colors of defunct Pan American World Airways. (Credits: Author)
This Douglas DC-3 wears the colors of defunct Pan American World Airways. (Credits: Author)

In their first 100 years, Boeing went from producing wood-framed fabric-covered float planes in a Seattle boathouse, to becoming America’s largest manufacturing exporter supporting airlines and government agencies in over 150 countries.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Ray Conner pointed out that Boeing sold their 707 jets to Germany’s Lufthansa, seventeen years after WWII ended, and recently sold 100 737-MAX to former foe Vietnam.

Ray Conner, Boeing Commerical Airplanes CEO. (Credits: Brandon Farris)
Ray Conner, Boeing Commerical Airplanes CEO. (Credits: Brandon Farris)

Friday night, a light show was projected onto the side of an all-white 747-8, which was transmitted via webcast.

Boeing has been commemorating their 100th anniversary throughout the year. This week at the bi-annual Farnborough Air Show in UK, Boeing erected the Centennial Experience pavilion, showcasing the company’s rich history of success and innovation.

Boeing Pavilion at the 2016 Farnborough Airshow. (Credits: Chris Sloan)
Boeing Pavilion at the 2016 Farnborough Airshow. (Credits: Chris Sloan)

Boeing was also featured in a five-part Discovery Channel documentary series this year, called The Age of Aerospace. The company has also launched a “100 Days of Learning” page online, aimed at inspiring younger generations by providing free aviation-related educational materials to teachers and students.

Boeing today represents a number of major companies that have merged over the past century, including McDonnell Aircraft, Douglas Aircraft, North American Aviation/Rockwell, Piasecki/Vertol, Howard Hughes’ helicopter and space companies, Stearman and The Boeing Company.