The airplane was still a novelty in 1916, when Bill Boeing flew his first, an open-cockpit seaplane he named Bluebill. Only two such airplanes were built (the other was named Mallard), but today his namesake, The Boeing Company, delivers an average of more than two aircraft per day. Boeing’s archives are proprietary, but the company granted photographer Chad Slattery rare access to celebrate its 100-year history. Some are classics; others are weird, wonderful airplanes that didn’t make it past the modeler’s shop. –The Editors
Sonic Bust, or Breaking the Cost Barrier
Sonic booms, fuel cost spikes, and ozone depletion were not political issues in 1963, when President John Kennedy promised to subsidize development of an American supersonic transport. Boeing began a program that ultimately employed thousands of people and cost hundreds of millions of dollars, but lasted only six years. Model 2707-200, an intermediate configuration mocked up in 1966, would have been longer than a football field, with wings that extended for takeoffs and retracted for efficient Mach 2.7 cruise. The Boeing SST had booked 112 orders from 26 airlines by 1971, when cost, technical, and environmental concerns led Congress to withdraw funding.