The inaugural of Boeing’s commercial jetliner came into existence when William Boeing visited his former company in 1954. He went there with his wife to unveil the model Boeing 367 – 80 at the Renton Wash Plant. While revealing this prototype for the upcoming 707 passenger jet and the KC-135 jet tanker, the Renton High School band played the Air Force theme. The same aircraft established the foundation for the 700 series of commercial and military aircraft.

Inflight picture of Boeing 367. Dawn of Commercial Jets
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The struggle of Boeing for Introducing Commercial Jets

To build the prototype of long-ranged jet aircraft, company Boeing invested almost two-thirds of the company’s net profit. Boeing had earned that amount of almost 16 million dollars from post-WW2 years. The company considered building the model 367-80 as a secret mission, hence built it secretly.

However, for the world, Boeing declared it a modified variant of C-97 Stratofreighter- the long-ranged military cargo carrier. For this jet-engine and swept-back winged aircraft, the company gave it a nickname as Dash-80. These swept-back wings are different from straight wings as they are optimized for high-speed flights.

Upon finishing the design of Dash-80, Boeing again took the risky action of producing this model without having even a single order from any airline or air force. Just after one week of its first flight, the Air Force placed the order of 29 tanker carriers, the KC-135.

However, Douglas DC-8, on behalf of almost the same features, created quite a competitive environment for the commercial version B-707. Therefore, the salesperson of Boeing put intensive efforts in attracting Pan Am, Trans World, and European airlines to experience flying 707. Resultantly, Pan Am placed an order for 20 of them while buying 25 DC-8s as well.

Features of Boeing 367 Dash-80

Since Boeing had started producing prototypes for military tanks’ transportation, the aircraft was deprived of seats. It was 128 feet long with a wingspan of 130 feet. It had a gross weight of 160,000 pounds with a cruising speed of 550 mph. The maximum ceiling of this 367-80 was more than 42,000 feet, while it had a range of 2,000 miles.

Equipped with four 10,000 pound thrust P&W turbojet engines, it could reach the top speed of more than 600mph. With the accommodation capacity of 3 crew members, this model conducted its first flight on 15th July 1954. It had only a few windows and two large cargo doors for loading and off-loading of military tankers.

In 1972, the caretakers put the Dash-80 to make it a part of Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum collection. While in August 2003, it moved to its permanent residence at the new companion of the museum’s facility, i.e., Dulles International Airport, near Washington.

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