First Boeing Clipper, Model 314, lifts off from Elliott Bay on maiden flight on June 7, 1938.

  • By Walt Crowley
  • Posted 9/08/2001
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 3545
On June 7, 1938, famed test pilot Eddie Allen guides the first Boeing Model 314 Clipper on its maiden flight from Elliott Bay. The sleek, four-engine flying boat is one six ordered by Pan American Airways to establish regular trans-Atlantic airline service. Ultimately, Boeing would build a dozen of the giant aircraft, which would see service during World War II. Made obsolete by faster postwar airliners, the last surviving Clipper was scrapped in 1951.

The huge flying boat was assembled at Boeing's Plant 1 on the Duwamish River and then tugged to Elliott Bay for taxi and flight tests. Even turned diagonally, its vast wingspan could barely squeeze through the supports of bridges spanning the river.

The Boeing 314 NX18601 Clipper remained aloft over Puget Sound for 38 minutes on its first flight. Ironically, on the same day in southern California, the prototype Douglas DC-4E land-based airliner -- which would ultimately supersede the Clipper -- also took to the air for the first time.


Sources: Boeing Archives. Boeing 314 Maintenance Manual; Bob Lamson/Boeing 314 test pilot; The Seattle Daily Times, June 23, 1938; Edward Jablonski, Sea Wings: The Romance of the Flying Boats(1972); Kenneth Munson, Flying Boats and Seaplanes (1971); Maurice Allward, Seaplanes and Flying Boats (1981); The Wartime Journals Of Charles A. Lindbergh (1970); Instruction Book for Wright Cyclone 14 Aircraft Engines, (Wright Aero. Corp., 1943). Boeing/Douglas Division Archives. Seattle Museum of Flight Technical Library Archives; (www.Boeing.com); (www.air-transport.org).

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