As we all know, Japan attacked the United States of America on December 7, 1941: 70 years ago today. That means our soldiers that were 20 years old at the time are now 90 years old. Personally, I want to thank each and every American that served during WWII. The troops that fought on the ground and in the air, and everyone that helped equip America and the allied forces for success in this conflict.
Here in Seattle, the employees of Boeing Aircraft played a VITAL role in winning the war. The b17 Flying Fortress was one of the true workhorses of the war. I remember as a kid reading about tattered planes that had been shot apart being flown back to safety. I admired the pilots that were brave enough to take these planes into the air, and to fly them back in (mostly) one piece. In the summer of 1998, I saw one land at the Arlington airport in Arlington, WA where I worked next door. I got goosebumps as I heard the four engines hum, and when I saw it approach, I was taken back to the WWII time frame for a moment. Truly inspiring to see a piece of history right there in front of me! It’s not enough to see black and white photos- when you hear the sounds, see the sights, and smell the smells, it paints a very different picture.
After seeing the b17 land, I was able to go aboard and get a tour of the inside of the plane. Engines still hot from flying – hard to believe I was really inside this legendary machine. To be honest, I felt as if I were floating for a moment.
In addition to designing and building the b17 Flying Fortress, Boeing also introduced the first large pressurized airplane – the b29 Superfortress. You have to like that name – “Superfortress”. Awesome. This plane could fly higher and further than previous bombers. Furthermore, the crew didn’t have to wear masks and flying was more comfortable. True innovation – the adage “war breeds innovation” is absolutely true.
The b29 was instrumental in ending the second world war. That’s pretty amazing. What’s also amazing is how Boeing didn’t stop innovating. After the war, the b47 bomber was at the cutting edge of jet powered bomber technology with its innovative swept wing design and new class of flight control system.
I hope you will take time to remember and appreciate all of the Americans and all of the allied forces that helped to defend our country, and to end the conflict. The world would be a very different place if things turned out differently…