The Boeing 707 Jet Stratoliner 

Dash-80 & Mt. Rainier 

The Boeing Airplane Company of Seattle had less than 1 percent of the commercial airliner market in the early 1950s when its President, Bill Allen, persuaded the firm's board to make an audacious gamble and develop the first American jetliner. 

As the industry giants, Douglas and Lockheed, held off on jets and instead competed with each other to build the most luxurious propeller-driven airliners, Bill Allen and Boeing jumped headlong into the future. But for five lonely years, Boeing could not persuade a single customer to buy its new jet, in either its military or civilian configuration. 

One day in August 1955, in front of 350,000 people gathered on and around Seattle's Lake Washington for the famed Gold Cup hydroplane races, Boeing's swashbuckling chief test pilot, A.M. "Tex" Johnston, took matters literally into his own hands. His demonstration of the 707 prototype, including a completely unauthorized full-circle "barrel roll" of the $18 million jet, stunned the crowd and infuriated Bill Allen, who ordered Johnston into his office for an immediate dressing-down. Would he fire Tex Johnston, or would Johnston make his case that he had just pulled off one of the most masterful acts of salesmanship in aviation history? 
                                    Credit: The Boeing Company Collection at the Museum of Flight

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