Jan. 3, 1967: Boeing begins work on 747 in Everett

Machinists will today vote on whether to accept a Boeing contract extension and keep 777 work in Everett.

It’s a decision that could decide the future of the state’s aerospace industry — and it lands on the anniversary of the day operations here started.

Forty-six years ago today, the first 113 Boeing employees — a workforce that would grow to exceed 30,000 — went to work at the not-quite-finished Everett plant — a building that would become the world’s largest, by volume.

A Boeing official called the plant’s pioneering crew “the incredibles,” fresh at work to build the first 747 jet.

From The Herald’s Jan. 3, 1967, issue:

“The first 113 of a potential 15,000 Boeing employees went to work today at Everett’s still a’building 747 jet assembly plant.

Speeches and coffee opened their working day.

The forerunner of the thousands yet to come were called “the incredibles” by a Boeing official who welcomed them to the huge plant.

“The inconveniences are going to be many,” Bayne Lamb, director of Boeing’s Everett facilities, cautioned the first 113. “You’ll be wearing hard hats and overcoats for some time.”

Preparations for transfer of the 747 jet mockup from Renton to Everett will be made by this first work force. That transfer is expected to start – with the mockup moved in sections – by the middle of this month.

Stamper told the first workers at the new plant that “if we could look 20 to 50 years ahead it would be interesting to see what kind of products we’ll roll across these floors.”

Forty-six years later, we’ve seen what’s been built on those ever-expanding floors.

Since the 747’s first flight on Feb. 9, 1969, more than 1,400 others like it have been built at the Everett plant.

In 1978 came the site’s second jetliner program, the 767. The first rolled off the line in August 1981 and, by May 20, 1993, crews in Everett had built 499 more.

Boeing launched its 777 jetliner program in October 1990, prompting the expansion of the Everett site. The plant had doubled in size by the time construction was completed in 1993.

Boeing’s 787 first took flight Dec. 16, 2009.

Read more from The Herald’s Jan. 3, 1967, issue and others in our collection of historic front pages.

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