With over 4,000 jet airliners being sold each year and the intense competition between Boeing and AirBus one wonders how the first jet airliners were sold. Sometimes there is great hesitancy to embrace new technology, but one way to do it is to create a "WOW" factor. And when Boeing introduced the first jet powered airliner, that's exactly what they did! Oh, this was not by accident! Boeing had officially designated it's newest model as a Model 367-80, fooling the competition into thinking Boeing was making another variation of the popular propeller-driven C-97 Stratofreighter.
The Day Comes
Sixty years ago Boeing test pilot 'Tex' Johnston was tasked to fly the new aircraft over Lake Washington in Seattle, WA. There were thousands of spectators out that day to watch Seattle's Seafair hydroplane races, including executives from the Aircraft Industries Association and the International Air Transport Association who planned to have their annual meeting in Seattle at that time. And this was the best time to make a stunning sales pitch for the new airplane.
The Barrel Roll
Tex Johnston rolled the aircraft twice over Seattle, and the next day met with the President of Boeing, Bill Allen. Mr. Allen asked Johnston to explain himself. Johnston told him that a barrel roll was simply a 1G maneuver and presented no danger to the aircraft nor anyone on the ground. When asked why he did it, he said "I was selling airplanes". To which Allen replied, "Don't do it again." However, since that time many jet airliners have performed barrel rolls, and so far as I know none have resulted in an accident.
How About You?
Would you do a barrel roll in an airliner? Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch!