Boeing 247D: Pioneer of Passenger Air Travel


Within the twenty-first century, giant jet airliners such because the Boeing 747, 777, and 787 dominate passenger air journey, flying from Seattle to New York nonstop in 5 hours or much less. In 1933 a revolutionary new airplane was launched that airline promoting bragged about. It cruised at speeds of three miles per minute and carried 10 passengers throughout the nation in 24 with fueling stops, chopping eight hours from earlier journey instances. The airplane was the Boeing 247D, which was thought of large and quick in its day. Not solely was it a technological development, however it additionally boosted public confidence in business air journey. Though the 247D dominated passenger journey for just a few years, it’s thought of the primary fashionable passenger transport and the forerunner of right now’s passenger airplanes.

Early Passenger Airplanes

By the start of the Thirties, passenger airplanes included American-built Ford Tri-Motors and Fokkers, and European-built airplanes. All have been sluggish, noisy, and uncomfortable for passengers. Most have been considerably boxy biplanes or high-wing monoplanes and had wing struts, help wires, engine mounts, and completely prolonged touchdown gear. Building used wooden and cloth slightly than metallic to avoid wasting weight. Within the days earlier than high-strength aluminum was obtainable, the intensive use of metallic would lead to an airplane that was too heavy to get off the bottom with the engines obtainable at the moment. When metallic was used, it was typically corrugated sheet metallic. All these elements affected weight and drag, which restricted velocity and effectivity.

On March 31, 1931, an American-made trimotor Fokker F-10A crashed in Kansas, killing all on board when a wing got here off the airplane in flight. One of many passengers was a nationwide hero, Knute Rockne (1888-1931), coach of the Notre Dame soccer crew, bringing excessive public consideration to the accident. The Division of Commerce decided that the trigger was rotted wooden the place the wing hooked up to the fuselage in an space inaccessible for routine inspection. The general public misplaced confidence in business air journey and passenger income for airways dropped. Safer, stronger airplanes have been wanted to revive public confidence in flying.

New Designs for a New Picture

In 1931, Boeing was on the lookout for a brand new undertaking. The earlier yr had seen completion of design and construct of the Boeing Monomail, a streamlined, low-wing, all-metal single-engine airplane designed for quick mail service. In 1931 Boeing was finishing the design of the Boeing-funded XB-9 bomber. Just like the Monomail, it was streamlined, low wing, and all metallic development, however bigger. The XB-9 was powered by two engines mounted within the wings as a substitute of hanging under them. The low-wing cantilevered design in each airplanes lowered drag and elevated velocity and effectivity by eliminating wires and struts wanted in older airplanes to help the wings.

In interviews, pilots of the older Boeing 80-A trimotor airplane had expressed the hope for sooner, comfy, streamlined, all-metal airliners. Boeing already had components of designs that will meet these necessities within the Monomail and the XB-9 that could possibly be tailored to a brand new passenger airliner.

On September 2, 1931, Boeing gave the go-ahead to check numerous design proposals for the brand new airplane. Many variations have been thought of together with biplanes and monoplanes, twin-engine and trimotor variations, and airplanes of assorted gross weights and passenger capacities. By the top of 1931, that they had settled on proposal #247 which was the variation of the XB-9 twin-engine bomber to a passenger configuration. (Be aware that about 35 years later, Boeing would adapt its unsuccessful proposed design for a navy cargo airplane into one other revolutionary passenger transport, the Boeing 747.)

In January 1932, Boeing took the proposal for the 247 to United Airlines and obtained an order for 60 airplanes. Element design of the airplane had began by February 1, 1932, and manufacturing started on July 26, 1932. It will be powered by two Pratt and Whitney 550 horsepower Wasp air-cooled radial piston engines. The order for 60 airplanes locked up Boeing manufacturing for 2 years and insured that United Airways would have unique use of the superior airliner throughout that point.

These first 60 airplanes have been constructed as 247 fashions, however as enhancements have been recognized, design modifications have been made and constructed into the 15 airplanes that adopted. The unique 60 airplanes might be recognized by the distinctive configuration of their windshield, which slanted inward from high to backside as a substitute of the same old outward slant. This design was meant to scale back glare from instrument panel mild reflections. In follow it made glare from outdoors lighting worse, so the design was modified. The later airplanes constructed as 247D fashions have commonplace outward slanted windshields. Most of the enhancements have been retrofitted to the unique 247 airplanes, which have been then upgraded to the 247D configuration aside from the windshield change.

Safer and Extra Comfy

Moreover the fashionable all-metal streamlined design, the 247 and the improved 247D had many new options that will proceed for use on airplanes. Cabin insulation lowered noise and enhancements in temperature management and cabin air flow elevated passenger consolation. Wing deicing improved security by stopping harmful ice buildup on the wings. Trim tabs on flight surfaces adjusted the flight perspective of the airplane, lowering pilot workload. Managed pitch propellers have been adjustable for max effectivity throughout takeoff and cruise.

The improvements within the design of the 247D helped pave the best way for the a lot bigger, a lot sooner plane which have since made Boeing’s repute in passenger airliners. The 247D has a wingspan of 74 ft, a size of 52 ft and top of 12.5 ft. It has a high velocity of 200 mph and a variety of 750 miles. It will probably carry 20 passengers, two pilots and a flight attendant.

Boeing’s latest passenger airliner, the 787-9 launched in 2011, has a wingspan of 197 ft, a size of 206 ft, and top of 56 ft. It has a high velocity of 586 mph and a variety of 8,700 miles. It will probably carry 296 passengers and crew.

Boeing’s largest passenger airliner, the 747-8 Intercontinental, has a wingspan of 224 ft, a size of 250 ft, and top of 64 ft. It has a high velocity of 612 mph and a variety of 9,200 miles. It will probably carry as much as 600 passengers and crew.

First Flight from Boeing Area

Two skilled pilots have been chosen for the primary flight of the 247 on February 8, 1933: Boeing Chief Check Pilot Leslie Ralph Tower (1903-1935) and United Airways pilot Main Louis G. Goldsmith (1898-1943)

Tower studied engineering on the College of Washington after which joined the USA Military as an aviation cadet the place he obtained his flight coaching. In 1925 he started his employment at Boeing as a draftsman however quickly turned a take a look at pilot. As Boeing Chief Check Pilot, he flew first flights of the Boeing 247 and Boeing Mannequin 299, which in manufacturing turned the B-17 bomber. Tower died of accidents sustained in October 1935 when the Mannequin 299 that he was aboard crashed at Wright Area close to Dayton, Ohio, throughout an Military Air Corps analysis flight.

Goldsmith served within the U.S. Military on the Mexican Border in 1916, and in France in 1917. He began flight coaching as an Military aviation cadet in 1921 and obtained his fee in 1922. Goldsmith flew as a barnstormer at county gala’s from 1923 to 1925 and later flew a Forest Service patrol airplane. In 1928 he turned a business air transport pilot based mostly in Portland, Oregon, with numerous small airways after which with United Airways. He flew United’s Boeing 247s from 1933, setting velocity information. In 1937, Goldsmith turned an aviation adviser to the Cantonese authorities throughout the early days of the Sino-Japanese battle. He went into energetic responsibility with the rank of main within the Air Transport Command of the U.S. Military Air Corps when Pearl Harbor was attacked. By that point, he had logged over 8,000 flight hours. Goldsmith died when the navy air transport airplane wherein he was a passenger crashed on the Isle of Arran in Scotland. Moreover his profession in aviation, he was a gifted author of flying action-adventure tales for periodicals resembling Argosy Journal and was the president of the Portland Writers Membership.

These pilots made the primary flight of the Boeing 247 at midday on February 8, 1933, witnessed by a number of hundred Boeing staff and executives. There was no public announcement previous to the historic flight. The takeoff from Boeing Area was easy, utilizing solely 800 ft of runway earlier than lifting into the air. The flight lasted about 40 minutes over Seattle and Puget Sound, and airplane efficiency was declared to be good. Subsequent take a look at flights decided that the brand new airplane met or exceeded all design specs. A number of days after the primary flight, throughout a flight over Seattle, Goldsmith minimize the left engine. With simply the ability of the correct engine, the airplane maintained altitude and will nonetheless climb. The flexibility to fly with one engine was an vital consideration for the protection of a twin-engine airplane.

First Industrial Flight

On Sunday April 2, 1933, from midday to six p.m., The Seattle Instances and United Airways offered the general public with their first alternative for a close-up view of the brand new 247. The occasion was held on the United Airways hangar at Boeing Area. A catwalk was arrange subsequent to the airplane to permit guests to see contained in the cabin space and flight deck. Guests have been additionally handled to an air circus carried out by Boeing Area pilots. A crowd of about 15,000 attended, together with 5,500 who waited in line to view the airplane up shut.

On April 5, 1933, lower than two months after the primary flight, the Boeing 247 entered service and made its inaugural business flight, a spherical journey between Seattle and Portland with a full complement of 10 passengers every approach. On board have been Seattle Mayor John Dore (1881-1938) together with his 12-year-old daughter Virginia, Tacoma Mayor Melvin Tennent (1888-1969) and Portland Mayor-elect Joseph Carson (1891–1956). Different passengers included a Seattle Publish-Intelligencer newspaper reporter, Boeing Chief Check Pilot Les Tower, and different representatives of Boeing and United Airways. A narrative within the Publish-Intelligencer on April 6, 1933, described the day and flight:

“A extra perfect day for the flight couldn’t have been discovered if it had been made to order. There was scarcely a cloud within the sky, so there was an uninterrupted view of the beautiful panorama of Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, Mount St. Helens, and Mount Hood. And such few ‘bumps’ as have been within the ambiance have been ridden by the nice airplane with as little concern as a crack ocean liner rides the occasional wave in a easy sea” (“New Boeing Big …”).

The Boeing 247 was described within the story as the latest “Queen of the Air.” Years later, the same description, “Queen of the Sky,” could be utilized to the jumbo jet Boeing 747.

Exhibiting Off in Chicago

To revive the general public acceptance of air journey, United Airways aggressively marketed the advantages of the brand new airplane. Commercials in newspapers, magazines, and brochures praised its velocity, consolation, and security options. United even sponsored a nationwide model-building contest for youth by way of Fashionable Aviation journal in 1933, sending out hundreds of free kits. The highest prize went to the mannequin builder who greatest duplicated in miniature as many options of the 247 as doable.

On the worst of the Nice Melancholy, the Century of Progress Worldwide Exposition was held in Chicago. It aimed to boost spirits by depicting a brighter future led by advances in science and expertise and to commemorate the centennial of town. It ran from Might 27 to November 1, 1933, and from Might 26 to October 31, 1934, and attracted almost 61 million guests. One of many common options of the exposition was the Journey and Transport Constructing. Numerous modes of transportation, previous and new, have been on show, however the Boeing 247 represented the epitome of recent transportation. Robert van der Linden described the show in his ebook The Boeing 247:

“The 247 sat dramatically perched on metal pedestals above the ground. A catwalk was erected above one wing thus permitting hundreds of tourists a close-up take a look at the inside. Loudspeakers broadcast a typical two-way radio dialog between the pilot and the bottom. Beneath the airplane stood a Wasp engine behind which was a small theater displaying a steady movie. This and several other static shows pressured the velocity, security, and luxury of the brand new airliner” (van der Linden, 80).

United Airways additionally offered guests with tri-fold brochures describing options of the airplane and a sequence of postcards. If the customer addressed, wrote, and stamped the postcard there, it could possibly be mailed proper from the Journey and Transport constructing. Related postcards have been additionally offered to passengers whereas flying on the airliner and if given to the stewardess, they might be stamped and mailed on the airline’s expense. The intensive promoting and public relations paid off. Vacationers heard the message. The brand new, quick Boeing 247 introduced United Airways report ticket gross sales because it entered service in summer season of 1933.

World’s Biggest Air Race: London to Australia

Within the Thirties advances in air transportation may bridge the time and distance between nations and continents. Nice Britain and Australia have been separated by 11,000 miles, and Sir MacPherson Robertson (1859–1945), an Australian millionaire philanthropist and sweet maker, wished to encourage journey between these nations. In 1932 he proposed an air race from London to Melbourne, which was getting ready for its centennial.

The competition created curiosity all around the world. From the U.S., well-known air racer and flamboyant persona Roscoe Turner (1895-1970) entered the race. He had set many velocity information and received many race trophies. His selection of pets set him aside. He incessantly flew together with his pet lion cub, Gilmore, named after his sponsor Gilmore Oil Firm, which featured a pink lion as a mascot. Turner selected the Boeing 247D as his airplane. He believed that not solely did it supply velocity however had confirmed the dependability wanted to complete such an extended race. He leased a brand new 247D from United Airways. Some modifications have been made, together with extra gas tanks to scale back the variety of fueling stops enroute. The airplane was like a flying billboard carrying logos of his sponsors together with Heinz 57 and Warner Brothers Footage.

Regardless of all his expertise, Turner had by no means flown lengthy distances over water, so he selected a copilot who had. Clyde Pangborn (1895-1958) from Wenatchee was additionally a well-known pilot. On October 4, 1931, Pangborn and Hugh Herndon Jr. (1899-1952) had made the primary nonstop flight throughout the Pacific Ocean from Japan to Wenatchee. It was a flight of 4,500 miles and 41 hours, 13 minutes. To save lots of gas they jettisoned the airplane’s touchdown gear and struts after takeoff, so that they stomach landed in a Wenatchee subject, close to the positioning of what’s now Pangborn Memorial Airport.

There have been 20 airplanes within the London to Melbourne race. Of explicit curiosity have been the entries from Nice Britain, three smooth two-seat De Havilland Comets that have been particularly constructed for the race, and the Dutch entry from KLM airways, a Douglas DC-2 airliner.

The ten,323-mile race was carried out from October 20-24, 1934. Prescribed stops included Athens, Baghdad, Karachi, Allahabad, Singapore, Darwin, and Melbourne, with different authorised places as wanted for gas. Turner and Pangborn of their Boeing 247D accomplished the race in simply over 92 hours and completed in third place behind one of many “constructed for velocity” Comets and the KLM Douglas DC-2 airliner. Ending behind the Douglas DC-2 could be a harbinger. 

After the race, Turner, Pangborn, and the 247D returned to San Francisco from Melbourne by steamship after which flew to Seattle, the place they have been congratulated by proud Boeing individuals. The airplane was restored to passenger configuration and entered service with United Airways with particular markings commemorating its success within the nice air race. In 1939 it was bought by the U.S. Division of Commerce to be used in testing new aviation gear. On July 17, 1953, Roscoe Turner made the final flight of the airplane to Washington Nationwide Airport in Washington, D.C., the place it was donated to the Smithsonian Establishment. It’s on everlasting show on the Nationwide Air and House Museum with one facet displaying United Airline markings and the opposite facet displaying the London to Melbourne race markings.

Overtaken by Douglas, Once more

With two years manufacturing and the primary 60 airplanes dedicated solely to United Airways, Boeing despatched different airways resembling TWA and American on the lookout for one other supply for aggressive airplanes. Donald Douglas welcomed them and developed his DC-1, DC-2, and DC-3 airplanes. First delivered to TWA in Might 1934, the Douglas DC-2 was 25 mph sooner than the 247D and will carry 4 extra passengers in a roomier cabin. Consequently, it was extra worthwhile to function. By early 1936 United Airways started promoting off their 247Ds to smaller operators and changing them with the Douglas airplanes. Over the manufacturing lifetime of the airplane, Douglas would construct hundreds of DC-3 business airliners and navy variants, whereas solely 75 of the Boeing 247 have been constructed. Ultimately the fleet of 247D airplanes could be utilized by companies, governments, militaries, and different homeowners for makes use of resembling non-public and company transportation, and even cloud seeding and crop dusting.

Boeing would go on to design and construct the modern 314 Clipper and the 377 airliners, however neither achieved reputation with the airways to compete with the Douglas airplanes. Throughout World Struggle II, Boeing manufacturing was totally engaged in constructing B-17 bombers. It wasn’t till the Nineteen Fifties and the Jet Age that Boeing achieved dominance within the business airliner market, starting with the Boeing 707.

The Closing Flight

The final flight of any Boeing 247 was made on April 26, 2016, after years of restoration on the Museum of Flight Restoration Heart at Paine Field in Everett. Of the 4 247Ds that also existed, NC13347 was the one one which was nonetheless flyable. Three different airplanes have been on show at museums in Washington D.C., Canada, and Nice Britain. Capt. Mike Carriker and Capt. Chad Lundy piloted the airplane on the 20-minute flight from Paine Area to Boeing Area in Seattle, the place the airplane was placed on everlasting show within the Aviation Gallery on the Museum of Flight.



Sources:

Robert van der Linden, The Boeing 247: The First Fashionable Airliner (College of Washington Press: Seattle, 1991), 63-65, 98, 75-80, 88-96, 99-117, 123, 159, 164-166, 167,183; Henry M. Holden, The Boeing 247 – The First Fashionable Industrial Airplane (Blue Ridge Summitt, Pennsylvania: TAB Books, 1991), 71-73, 78-83, 87-95, 97-109, 125-130, 133-147; HistoryLink.org On-line Encyclopedia of Washington State Historical past, “Boeing 247 takes flight from Boeing Area, opening new vistas in business air journey, on February 8, 1933” (by Alan Stein), “Pangborn, Clyde Edward (1894-1958)” (by Priscilla Lengthy,), “Clyde Pangborn belly-lands a monoplane in Wenatchee to finish the primary nonstop airplane flight between Japan and the USA on October 5, 1931” (by Priscilla Lengthy), “Boeing and United Air Strains from Beginning to Break Up, 1919-1934” (by Walt Crowley), “United Air Strains airliner with 9 individuals aboard crashes within the Cascade foothills close to Selleck on June 7, 1934” (by Daryl C. McClary), “After Restoration at Paine Area, the Boeing 247D Airliner takes Closing Flight April 26, 2016” (by Bob Mayer) https://historylink.org (accessed November 21, 2023); Stub Nelson “Flier Creator Off To Struggle,” The Oregonian, March 10, 1942, p. 11; “Dying Takes Famous Portland Airman,” The Oregonian, October 13, 1943, p. 8; Bryan Swopes, “Tag Archives: Leslie Ralph Tower,” thisdayinaviation.com web site (accessed November 22, 2023) https://www.thisdayinaviation.com/tag/leslie-ralph-tower/; “Boeing Surprise Airplane To Be On Exhibit Immediately” Seattle Each day Instances, April 2, 1933, p. 1; “5,500 Examine Latest Boeing Aerial Liner” Seattle Each day Instances, April 3, 1933, p 1, 4; “Latest Boeing Transport Will Be the Quickest Massive Airplane In World” Seattle Publish-Intelligencer, March 26, 1933, Half Two p 15; R. B. Bermann, “New Boeing Big Goes Into Service; Three Mayors Visitors On First Journey,” Seattle Publish-Intelligencer, April 6, 1933, Half Two p. 11; Jeremy Kinney, “Roscoe-Turner-and-Gilmore-the Flying-Lion,” airandspace.si.edu web site (accessed November 22, 2023) https://airandspace.si.edu/tales/editorial/roscoe-turner-and-gilmore-flying-lion; “Roscoe Turner, Don Younger, and Clyde Pangborn,” airandspace.si.edu web site accessed November 22, 2023 (https://airandspace.si.edu/multimedia-gallery/si-87-11913-sjpg).









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