Local Authors Present Seattle's Commercial Aviation 1908-1941





Local Authors Present Seattle's Commercial Aviation 1908-1941

By Mike Mitchell
Local Authors Present Seattle's Commercial Aviation 1908-1941  

December 19, 2009 - Seattle was a hub of aviation long before it became "JetCity." On Dec. 26 at 2 p.m., Seattle authors Ed Davies and Steve Ellis present a program based upon their new book, "Seattle Commercial Aviation 1908 - 1941."

The program draws from hundreds of photographs gathered for the book, which illustrates Seattle aviation from the earliest dirigible flights to the arrival of commercial airmail and the airlines.  

The authors show how a few Seattle aviation pioneers contributed to many spin-offs in the industry. A question and answer session and book signing follows the program. The presentation is in the William M. Allen Theater and free with admission to the Museum.  

Anscel Eckmann (pictured) became the first person to fly nonstop between Seattle and the Alaska panhandle when he flew this Lockheed Vega to Juneau in April 1929.  Photo credit: Museum of History and Industry: Post-Intelligencer Collection. 

Ed Davies has written hundreds of magazine articles and several books about aviation. Since moving to Seattle in the late 1990s he has specialized in the history of Boeing and airmail service. Steve Ellis is a Seattle native and former journalist. He has served as a volunteer at The Museum of Flight Library and Archive for the past seven years.

Ellis grew up hearing his father's stories about the early days of commercial aviation in the Northwest. His father, Robert Ellis, began his long career in aviation as a mechanic and copilot in the late 1929s with early air carriers West Coast Air Transport, Pacific Air Transport and United Air Lines. He retired from UAL in 1973. A display about Robert Ellis is on view in the Museum's Early Northwest Aviation exhibit. 

As part of the lecture, Davis and Ellis will show photographs depicting dirigible flights at Seattle's 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, the origins of Boeing Aircraft, and the pioneering efforts of Pacific Air Transport, United Airlines and Northwest Airlines. Their presentation will also look at Seattle's emergence as the aviation gateway to Alaska.   

The Museum of Flight is located at 9404 E. Marginal Way, Seattle, Washington Exit 158 off Interstate 5 (on Boeing Field between downtown Seattle and SeaTac Airport.) The Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $14 for adults, $13 for seniors 65 and older, $10 for active military, $7.50 for youth 5 to 17, and free for children under 5. Group rates are available. Admission on the first Thursday of the month is free from 5 to 9 p.m. courtesy of Wells Fargo. For general Museum information, please call 206-764-5720 or visit www.museumofflight.org. 


The Museum of Flight is a private non-profit air and space museum at King County International Airport/Boeing Field in Tukwila, Washington, south of downtown Seattle. It was established in 1965 and is fully accredited by the American Association of Museums. As the largest private air and space museum in the world, it also hosts the largest K-12 educational programs in the world. In 2006 it served nearly 120,000 students through both its onsite programs (A Challenger Learning Center, an Aviation Learning Center and a summer camp (ACE) and outreach programs that travel throughout Washington and Oregon. It has more than 80 aircraft, including: 

City of Everett, the first flight-worthy Boeing 747 airliner. Its registration number is N7470, and it was named after the city of Everett, Washington. Its first flight was on February 9, 1969. 

?  The first presidential jet, VC-137B SAM 970, which served in the presidential fleet from 1959 to 1996 (open for walkthrough)

?  British Airways Concorde number 214, registration G-BOAG, the only Concorde west of the Appalachians (open for walkthrough)

?  A Caproni Ca.20, the world's first fighter plane from World War I

?  Lockheed D-21 unmanned reconnaissance drone, atop the only surviving M-21 a variant of the Lockheed A-12.

?  The prototype Boeing 737.

?  The second Lockheed Martin/Boeing DarkStar Tier III- unmanned vehicle prototype

?  The Gossamer Albatross II human-powered aircraft.

?  One of five Aerocars, automobiles with detachable wings and propeller

?  LearAvia Lear Fan prototype N626BL

?  One of only two remaining flyable Douglas DC-2s.

?  The only surviving Boeing 80A, flown by Bob Reeve in Alaska.

?  An American Airlines Boeing 727. 

On its grounds is the Personal Courage Wing (PCW) with 28 World War I and World War II aircraft from several countries including Germany, Russia, and Japan, and The "Red Barn", a registered historic site. In the early 1900s it was Boeing's original manufacturing plant. Through photographs, film, oral histories, and restoration of work stations the exhibits in the Red Barn illustrate how wooden aircraft structure with fabric overlays were manufactured in the early years of aviation and provides a history of aviation development through 1958.  

The Museum recently opened a new space exhibit: "Space: Exploring the New Frontier", which traces the evolution of space flight from the times of Dr. Robert Goddard to the present and into future commercial spaceflight. The museum maintains a restoration facility at Paine Field in Everett with about 39 ongoing projects including a de Havilland Comet 4 jet airliner, a Jetstar, a FM-2 Wildcat, among many. A previous project, the only flyable Boeing 247 in existence, is based from the airfield at the restoration center. A restored B-17, currently the only flyable B-17F variant of the B-17 and a B-29 in progress are currently hangared at Boeing Field. 

The Museum currently has an attendance of about 500,000 visitors every year from throughout the world. The Museum also has a library dedicated to aviation that is open to the public. The library contains the Dalhberg military aviation collection and the Jeppesen collection. The library also accepts research requests from the general public.

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