Missiles, the 747, the SST, and NASA and Space 1958 to 1970

There is an online pamphlet that had a very detailed timeline for the Boeing Company at this link:


I wanted to know what aircraft and military projects Boeing was working on from 1952 to 1970 when my Dad was there working.  Here is just a few items of interest from the very detailed time line above.

In 1958 the Air Force selected Boeing to assemble and test the Minuteman Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM).  

Dec 15, 1961 Boeing starts work on the Saturn V first-state booster for the Apollo Program

Nov 3, 1963 A Boeing 727 completes a 76,000 mile world tour to 26 countries. 

April 1964 Boeing and Lockheed are selected to design the SST. 

April 13, 1966 Boeing announces it will build a 490 passenger 747 transport. Construction will begin in June at a new plant to build the huge jets in Everett, Wash.

Dec 31, 1966 Boeing wins the competition to design the supersonic transport (SST). 

Nov 9, 1967 First unmanned Saturn V is launched from Kennedy Space Center, Fla..combined resources of Boeing, McDonnell Douglas and North American. 

Feb 9, 1969 The Boeing 747-100 makes its first flight.

July 20, 1969 Apollo 11 makes the first successful moon landing on the lunar Sea of Tranquility…

Sept 23, 1969 President R. Nixon approves the construction of two SST prototypes by Boeing. 

Jan 21, 1970 The Boeing 747 makes it first commercial flight from New York to London for Pan American. 

There was a position description among his papers, with the number BO-705 dated June 19, 1962.  It had the title General Commodities Quality Control Specialist.  The organization location was listed as Seattle, WA – Fabrication, sub-assembly & receiving section, Material Quality Branch, Minuteman Division, AFPR – The Boeing Company.

It contained an introduction, duties and responsibilities, and controls over the work. Here is a little part of that position description for General Commodities Quality Control Specialist:

Position Description

Position Description

On July 22, 1962 he received a Notification of Personnel Action. It had “promotion” written on it. It read from Aircraft Quality Control Inspector, promoted to General Commodity Quality Control Representative. Duty station Seattle.

That following June 23, 1963 he was removed from the above position and reassigned to Mechanical Equipment Quality Control Representative.  A couple of months later on November 10, 1963 he is attached to the Dyna-Soar Project but remains with the same title.


Oh dear, the program was cancelled on December 10, 1963.

This sounds interesting, he receives a certificate from the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center for completing a course in “Precision Measurements & Analysis RQA/M10,” for a total of 80 hours.  The Certificate was issued on November 6, 1964.

Certificate of Training

Certificate of Training

His record of training describes the course as follows: MSFC Inspection philosophy, Documentation, Function and operation of precision measuring equipment, x-ray film reading, methods and procedures for inspection of common welds, Dye penetrant and Zyglo inspection.  Added comment: Demonstration of desirable skills in all areas.

He went to Huntsville, Alabama for this course. He sent home a postcard of the Chicago Airport:

Postcard from Alabama

Postcard from Alabama show Chicago’s O’Hare Airport – The Aviation Crossroads of the World!

He writes: 7:40 The assitant driver found this place OK. Saw my gang on the Sea/Tac roof. It’s as flat as the picture. Too warm for this polar creature. Arrived at Huntsville in the dark. Where’s North? Im glad Johnson is here... This was the second time Keith flew somewhere to take a course or some training.  The first time was about 1956-1958.  It was very odd for my father to go anywhere.  I am glad he got to fly in a big plane.

The Department of the Air Force gave Keith a Certificate for his 30 years of Federal Service on November 21, 1964.

Certificate for 30 years of Federal Service

Certificate for 30 years of Federal Service

The AFPRO Boeing Company in Seattle received a Presidential Citation on 30 November, 1964. Apparently Keith was included in what looks like a group citation.

President Citation

President Citation

Reading this explanation was very interesting:

Citation Explanation

Citation Explanation

This citation mentions the C/KC-135 Program, the Dyna Soar Program, the Minuteman Weapon System. The C/Kc-135 was Boeing’s Stratotanker airplane. The National Park Service has a park called the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site in South Dakota:


Saturn V project:


On July 4, 1965 he is reassigned from Mechanical Equipment Quality Control Representative to  Space Systems Quality Control Assistant.  Location: AFSC, AFCMD, Dept. 09, AF Plant Representative, The Boeing Co., Space Systems Division, Materiel Quality Branch (Saturn Section), Seattle, Washington. There was a warning at the bottom: this position has been designated sensitive…..There is a huge stamp: NASA REIMBURSEMENT.  There is another Position Description in his files describing his duties in this new Space Systems position.

Boeing News is a newspaper by the company and Keith had saved several issues of this paper.  This issue was Vol. 25, N0. 39 dated September 29, 1966.  It was the premiere of the Advanced SST. This was one fancy plane.

The SST is a very controversial airplane and I am not sure its story is over yet.


SST Premieres

SST Premieres

The following August of 1969 they awarded Keith and probably others the Commemorative Apollo 8 Medallon.

Apollo Medallion

Apollo Medallion


I remember watching the landing on the moon for Apollo 11 in July of 1969 with my Dad. We sat together in our Rec room watching the TV and probably eating popcorn. The big arm-chair was reserved for him to sit in place right in front of the TV.

Awe yes, The Man Who Lived and Loved Airplanes was dreaming of SPACE.


In February of 1969 the Boeing 747 goes on its first flight as found in the Boeing News, this aircraft was built out of the Everett plant so he really didn’t get involved from a work stand point but you never know. There were many other airplanes that he may have worked on that Boeing was rolling out in the 1960’s per the above timeline I found.

747's first flight

747’s first flight

In May of 1969 Keith’s personnel form reads: From Space Systems Quality Control Assistant to Missile Quality Control Assistant. Location: Seattle. This position has been designated sensitive. Administrative Reassignment due to reorganization. Again he has a position description form and this time the subject is Missile Quality Control Assistant which is very detailed.

From January to May of 1969 my Dad wrote to me at college here are some of his comments about his work from these letters and it is best seen in his handwriting. He talks about Plant I and Plant II.  Apparently wind tunnels are not fun to be near and he mentions the 747.  You can click on each to get a better view.


April1969 work comments work comments work comments work comments

I had no idea that his work led him to missiles, and the Space program.  I guess he took the message seriously as being sensitive and didn’t talk about his work much.  Of course, there is no way to really know exactly what the focus was in his work during that time in 1960’s unless I could sit down with him and chat about his last years at Boeing.

Apparently Boeing used this wind tunnel my Dad refers to for a long time.  With the tearing down of Plant II it is gone but Boeing still uses them to test the planes.  Try putting wind tunnel and Boeing in the Google search engine and you will find some interesting articles and images but you will have to dig.

About BJ MacDonald

Interested in travel, really into genealogy and researching my family history, classic novels and movies, fantasy and science fiction, photography, history and more... Here is a tip. Make sure you are commenting on the blog you were visiting and the post you were interested in. My blogs are listed by hovering over my pictures and clicking. Clicking one of them will take you back to the correct blog. You can try me here: bjmcdonell@gmail.com
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