Boeing, William Edward

Boeing, William Edward, 1881–1956, American aviation pioneer and executive, b. Detroit. After attending Yale's Sheffield Scientific School (1899–1902), he moved (1903) to Gray's Harbor, Wash., where he had inherited land, and went into the timber business; he later bought (1910) Heath Shipyard. Becoming a pilot, he founded (1916) Pacific Aero Products with Navy Lt. C. Conrad Westervelt and built the B&W Model 1 seaplane. The company became (1917) the Boeing Airplane Company after Westervelt left, and supplied seaplanes to the Navy during World War I, building them at the shipyard. After the war the airplane business slumped and the company made boats and other products. Boeing began airmail delivery in 1919; Boeing Air Transport bought its planes from the airplane company. Boeing soon focused on airplane manufacture and repair, but returned to airmail delivery in 1927; Boeing's Model 40A began to carry passengers as well as mail. The Air Mail Act of 1934 forced the company, accused of monopolistic practices, to divorce airline operations from development and manufacturing. Boeing retired, and what had become United Aircraft and Transport Corp. was split into the manufacturers United Aircraft Corp. (now United Technologies) and Boeing Airplane Company (now Boeing Company) and United Airlines.

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