On July 15, 1954, the "Jet Age" begins in Seattle with the maiden flight of the Dash-80 from Boeing Field. The Dash-80 is the prototype for the commercial airliner Boeing 707.
The sleek, four-engine jet transport was an outgrowth of the development of the KC-135 jet tanker for the U.S. Air Force begun by Boeing in 1951. The plane was officially listed as the 367-80 but became widely known as simply the "Dash-80." The commercial airliner variant, marketed under the company model number "707," flew in 1958.
Although preceded into service by Britain's troubled DeHaviland Comet airliner, the 707 was the first jet transport to win broad public and commercial acceptance and thereby ushered in the modern "Jet Age" of airline travel.
Boeing derived the design from military plans, but financed development with its own funds in a gamble that literally "bet the company" on future sales. The risk began to pay off with the first aircraft sales a year later, and it established Boeing as the world's leader in jet transport manufacture.
Peter M.Bowers, Boeing Aircraft Since 1916 (London, UK: Putnam, 1998), 410-447. Also see Harold Mansfield, Vision: The Story of Boeing (New York: Popular Library, 1966) and Robert J. Serling, Legend & Legacy: The Story of Boeing and Its People (New York: St. Martins, 1992.
Note: This file was corrected on August 5, 2002.
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