Sixty years ago today, during Seattle's Seafair festival on Lake Washington where a large group of airline executives were gathered for an IATA conference, Boeing test pilot Alvin "Tex" Johnston flew a demonstration flight of Boeing's new Model 367-80 (the prototype of the Boeing 707) over the crowd of 250,000 people. Flying east after test flights over the Pacific Ocean and Olympic Peninsula, Johnston flew in at 450 mph and at just 300 feet, then began a 35° climb and performed a barrel roll, a maneuver which while impressive maintained a 1-G force aboard the aircraft. In case anyone had missed the spectacle, Johnston turned the aircraft west and performed another barrel roll for the crowd. Boeing president Bill Allen was reportedly furious, but the demonstration made a positive impression with airline executives.
No map today, just a photo taken by a Boeing Company engineer during one of the rolls, though if you must have a map see this map of Lake Washington and Renton. (Renton is where the $16-million 367-80 was assembled, and made its first flight on 15 July 1954.)
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Karl L. Swartz.
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